Whitecaps search for offensive spark against Philadelphia Union


Vancouver's Fredy Montero. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

VANCOUVER – If the Vancouver Whitecaps plan to start any kind of a winning streak, it may come by taking advantage of a friendly schedule over the next few weeks.

The Whitecaps (1-5-2) play three of their next four MLS matches at BC Place, starting with the Philadelphia Union (4-3-1) Saturday afternoon.
With just one win through eight matches this season, the Whitecaps enter the weekend three points clear of last place in the Western Conference. While there are signs of improvement, Vancouver continues to find ways of letting points slip away. The most recent example came last weekend when it gave up a goal with less than five minutes remaining in what proved to be a 1-0 road loss to Orlando City FC.
“This weekend is a big chance for us to continue with how we’re working,” Whitecaps captain Jon Erice said. “We need points and we need to win at home. Philadelphia is a good team that is coming here with confidence.”
The Union come to town after their most lopsided win of the year, thumping the Montreal Impact 3-0 at home last Saturday. Despite earning three points, Philadelphia saw one of their top performers go down with injury, as veteran goalkeeper Andre Blake suffered a right adductor strain, ruling him out of action this weekend.
No matter who starts in goal for the Union, Vancouver will need to be the more focused of the two teams on the pitch if they want to get a positive result. The last time the Whitecaps were at BC Place, they were solid in both halves of the pitch in a 2-0 victory over the then-undefeated Los Angeles FC.  
“We have to be compact defensively like we have since the beginning of the season,” Vancouver goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau offered. “Mentally we have to be sharp. Just be a little more smarter and calmer on the ball.”
Limiting the mental lapses will be key for the Whitecaps if they want to come out on top Saturday. Of the 11 goals they have conceded, seven have come in the final 30 minutes of matches. Considering Vancouver has only scored once in that same time period of games, you can understand why the team is eager to get back into the win column.
“The same way we defend [collectively] well, I think we can grow collectively offensively,” coach Marc Dos Santos stated. “We’re trying to find solutions. If this team had three or more goals, we would probably have four or five more points right now.”

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Saturday marks the tenth meeting between Vancouver and Philadelphia, with the series dead even at three wins and three losses apiece, and a trio of draws. In their last match-up, the Union posted a 4-0 win at home last June. The Whitecaps failed to generate a single shot on target while Philadelphia had 11.

Goals have not been tough to come by for the Union this season. They are the third-highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference (12 goals) and enter Saturday’s match having won four of their last five.
 While no Whitecap has scored more than one goal this season, Philadelphia has four: David Accam, Alejandro Bedoya and Cory Burke, as well as the injured Marco Fabian. 

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