Two of the top teams in the MLS will go head-to-head on Saturday night, when Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-2L-1D) host D.C. United (3W-1L-2D) back home at BC Place.
Match Day: Saturday, April 25
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. PT
Venue: BC Place
Radio: TSN 1410
The ‘Caps enter the weekend atop the MLS table thanks to a 5W-2L-1D record.
Vancouver’s 16 points are the most they’ve had at this point in the season. Last year, it took Whitecaps FC until May 10 to reach the 16-point mark (and they still finished the year with their highest-ever point total in MLS).
“It’s a work in progress, this team,” ‘Caps head coach Carl Robinson said on Thursday. “Even though we’ve done decent at the start of the season, every day I’m on at them because I know they can get better. That’s me included. If we continue to do that, we’re going to build something very special here.”
Most recently, Whitecaps FC earned a 1-0 road win over Real Salt Lake – their first-ever win at Rio Tinto Stadium. The ‘Caps have now bounced back with victories after their only two defeats this season.
Darren Mattocks, who played alongside Octavio Rivero in a two-striker formation, provided the scoring in Saturday’s victory. The Jamaican international now has two goals in his last three matches – or four in his last five if you count international duty.
Robinson’s side got the job done in Utah without captain Pedro Morales, who was sidelined with a one-match suspension. But the Chilean will be available once again on Saturday – as will newcomer Cristian Techera, an exciting 5-foot-2 winger who hails from Uruguay.
After finishing atop the Eastern Conference last season, D.C. United have picked up where they left off in 2015. The Washington-based outfit are currently in a three-way tie for first in the East after going undefeated in their last four matches.
And they’ve done so without forward Fabian Espindola, their 2014 MVP. The 29-year-old Argentine is coming off his most productive season in MLS, recording a career-high 11 goals and nine assists. After serving a six-match ban to start the season, Espindola will be available to make his 2015 debut on Saturday at BC Place.
“I do [expect to see him in the starting lineup],” Robinson said. “He’s a very good player for them and I think he brings something different to the table.”
Other players to watch include forwards Chris Rolfe and Luis Silva, as well as goalkeeper Bill Hamid should he play. The U.S. national team shot-stopper, who missed last weekend’s match with a thigh contusion, is the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
This will be the sixth all-time meeting between the two teams. Whitecaps FC have a slight edge with a 2W-1L-2D record. Last year, the two teams played to a scoreless draw at BC Place.
Whitecaps FC centre back Kendall Waston will be suspended due to caution accumulation if he picks up a yellow card on Saturday. If Waston goes without a yellow on Saturday and again next weekend against Portland Timbers, he will have one yellow card expunged.
Whitecaps FC midfielder Russell Teibert attended the same high school (Saint Paul Catholic High School in Niagara Falls, Ontario) as D.C. United defender Kofi Opare in 2007 and 2008.