After falling 3-1 to Toronto FC in their season opener, Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be looking to “set the record straight” on Saturday afternoon when they visit Chicago Fire in their first road match of 2015.
Match Day: Saturday, March 14
Kickoff: 3 p.m. PT
Venue: Toyota Park, Chicago
TV: TSN 1/3/4
Radio: TSN 1410
The ‘Caps kicked off their 2015 campaign in high gear last weekend against Toronto FC, controlling play from the opening whistle and eventually opening the scoring through offseason acquisition Octavio Rivero. But the Reds scored three unanswered goals, including a 90th minute penalty, to come back and spoil the party.
“Yeah, we lost the first game but there are 33 games to go,” said Pa-Modou Kah, who was back to training on Tuesday after his wife gave birth to a baby girl on Monday. “Like I always say, it’s not where you start it’s where you end. We have to set the record straight.”
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said “there might be the odd change or two” in his starting lineup this weekend, adding that he’d evaluate the team and make a decision after the travel day.
“You don’t turn into a good team overnight and you don’t turn into a bad team overnight,” Robinson told reporters this week. “We just need to find our rhythm and groove. And hopefully that will come on Saturday.”
Last season, the ‘Caps claimed 18 points on the road – a new club record in MLS. Their first road win came on May 10, 2014 against Columbus Crew.
Their additions include three Designated Players: attacking midfielder Shaun Maloney and forwards David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike. Clearly, head coach Frank Yallop felt there was a need for change after finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference last season with a 6W-10L-18D record. Unlike Vancouver, who kept their core intact with a few additions after a successful 2014 campaign, the Fire underwent a massive offseason overhaul, bringing in 13 new players and parting ways with 16.
“They had a difficult year last year so they tried to freshen it up,” Robinson said. “It’s a little bit of the unknown. We played them in the preseason, we know they have good technical players. Frank’s trying to change certain areas of how they play, but we’ll be ready for it.”
Chicago opened their 2015 season last Friday with a 2-0 loss to defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy. They were missing a number of expected starters, however, including striker Mike Magee (hip), Accam (groin strain), and centre back Adailton (concussion).
The latter two could feature this weekend in Chicago’s home opener. Accam is listed as questionable, while Adailton returned to training this week and scored in a friendly against Notre Dame on Tuesday.
Saturday’s match will be the sixth all-time meeting between the ‘Caps and Fire.
Whitecaps FC hold the edge with a 2W-1L-2D record, though they’ve yet to score a goal in three previous meetings at Toyota Park. That includes a scoreless draw last season.
Just two weeks ago, Vancouver and Chicago also played to a 1-1 draw in their preseason finale in Portland. Kah gave Whitecaps FC a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute, but the Fire equalized through a 90th-minute Shahdon Winchester tally.