Since joining Major League Soccer in 2011, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3W-1L-0D) have never won four matches in a row. But as they say, there’s a first for everything.
And the ‘Caps are hoping it will come on tonight when they host the defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy (1W-1L-2D) at BC Place.
Match Day: Saturday, April 4
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Venue: BC Place
TV: TSN 1
Radio: TSN 1410
Here are three storylines to get you set for Saturday’s match.
1. Returning players
What a difference a week makes.
“We’re down to the bare bones,” Carl Robinson said last week as international call ups, injuries and suspensions pushed the ‘Caps squad to the limit. Though they were stretched thin, the boys came up big with the likes of Erik Hurtado, Deybi Flores and Robert Earnshaw all contributing to a 2-1 win over Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers.
Fast forward to today’s clash with LA Galaxy and an entirely different problem faces the Welsh coach. With Darren Mattocks, Russell Teibert and Christian Dean returning from international duty alongside Kekuta Manneh who’s once again available after his one match suspension; Robinson has a headache when it comes to selecting his starting XI for Saturday.
It’s the kind of headache coaches enjoy though, and with competition for places at an all-time high it will be interesting to see who lines up in front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday.
2. Last gasp goals
You never leave a match early.
“It shows great character in the group that I’ve got that they’re willing to fight to the end,” Robinson said at training on Thursday. “Moments of magic change games, whether it’s in the first or the 90th minute it doesn’t matter to me as long as we do it.”
The team’s last gasp heroics have helped to turn three draws into three wins, propelling the ‘Caps to second place in the standings. While fans have been put on an emotional rollercoaster as of late, the players are drawing positives from their ‘never say die’ performances.
“It definitely gives us confidence,” Steven Beitashour said at training. “You keep pushing, you keep fighting because you know that until the final whistle is blown we have a chance of winning”
The lesson for those in the stands? Stay in your seats, as you never know what’s going to happen.
3. Test against the best
They may have had a stuttering start to the season but there’s no way you can underestimate the visitors who will be lining up against the ‘Caps on Saturday. LA Galaxy are the reigning MLS Champs, a star-studded outfit who set the standard by which the rest of the league is measured.
It will certainly be a challenge for Robinson and his squad, but it’s a good barometer to see just how far his team has come.
“It will be a good test for us because they are the best team in the league,” the boss said this week. “We go up against the best team and the best manager and we look forward to it, it will be a good test for this young group to see where we are five games in.”
Traditionally, the ‘Caps don’t have the best of records against the Galaxy. They’ve beat them just once during their last 12 encounters – a Russell Teibert inspired victory in 2013 – so can the team set the record straight on Saturday at BC Place?
“It’s going to be a tough game for us,” Beitashour said. “We have to prepare. We have been preparing this week, it’s been really good training, real sharp; so we’re excited to play this weekend and hopefully we’ll get another three points.”