After suffering their first loss in over a month, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-2L-1D) will look to return to their winning ways on Saturday night when they visit Real Salt Lake (2W-0L-3D) at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Match Day: Saturday, April 18
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. PT
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium, Utah
Radio: TSN 1410
The ‘Caps saw their five-match unbeaten run snapped last weekend, suffering a 1-0 road defeat to San Jose Earthquakes in their third match in the span of eight days. That was the first game Whitecaps FC have been shut out this season. It was also the first time they have conceded a goal away from home in 2015.
Despite the loss, Whitecaps FC remain atop the MLS table with 13 points and a 4W-2L-1D record.
Carl Robinson’s side will be looking to get back into the win column Saturday versus RSL, but they’ll have to do so without captain Pedro Morales. The Chilean was shown a red card for an altercation with San Jose’s Adam Jahn, who also received a red card, last weekend and will therefore miss the match due to suspension.
There’s also a slight chance newcomer Cristian Techera could be involved, as Robinson is hopeful to have him join the group in Salt Lake.
RSL enter the weekend fourth in the Western Conference with a 2W-0L-3D record.
Jeff Cassar’s new 4-3-3 formation, a shift from RSL’s traditional 4-4-2 diamond, has yielded mixed results thus far. On the one hand, the Claret-and-Cobalt are undefeated in five matches and have posted back-to-back clean sheets (for a total of three on the season).
At the same time, they’ve only scored two goals from open play – both of which were set up by attacking midfielder Javier Morales. In fact, the 35-year-old Argentine has either scored or assisted five of RSL’s six goals this season.
It should be noted, however, that RSL has been without their 2014 leading goalscorer Joao Plata (fractured fifth metatarsal). Designated Player Sebastian Jaime (tibia fracture) has also missed the last two matches.
Meanwhile, midfielder Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando both appeared for the U.S. men’s national team in a friendly against Mexico on Wednesday. Rimando is expected to be available on Saturday, while Beckerman’s status is up in the air after picking up a left thigh bruise.
Whitecaps FC and RSL have been quite evenly matched over the last four years.
RSL has a slight edge with a 4W-3L-4D all-time record, but Whitecaps FC took the season series last year, winning the final meeting at BC Place after a pair of draws at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The ‘Caps have never won a game at Rio Tinto. In fact, RSL lost just one match there all of last season.
Whitecaps FC midfielder Matias Laba had a season-high eight tackles last weekend against San Jose. He now leads the league with 33 on the season.