The boys are back!
After a five-match road trip that spanned over a month, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-7L-2D) finally return to BC Place on Sunday to host Sporting Kansas City (7W-3L-6D).
Match Day: Sunday, July 12
Kickoff: 6 p.m.
Venue: BC Place
Radio: TSN 1410
Their road trip ended on a sour note, but it’s hard not to look at the big picture.
The ‘Caps won three of five matches away from home, which has them tied for the top spot in the Western Conference and tied for second in the MLS Supporters’ Shield Race.
A big part of their recent success has been the play of MLS Player of the Month David Ousted, who has earned three straight Save of the Week nominations, and 20-year-old winger Kekuta Manneh, who has three goals in his last four games.
“His levels have gotten higher tactically, technically, and fitness-wise as well,” head coach Carl Robinson said of Manneh. “I said to him [last weekend], he needs to push himself a bit more now.”
While Whitecaps FC are the league’s best road team thus far, they’ve stumbled a bit at home – posting a 4W-3L-1D record. That said, their last home match was an exciting 2-1 win over RSL back on May 30.
“I think everybody’s excited to get back into BC Place again,” Ousted said this week. “I think you’ll see a Whitecaps team that’s going to be at it from the start.”
There’s only one team averaging more points per game than Whitecaps FC and it’s SKC.
Peter Vermes’ side, who have lost just one of their last nine MLS matches, are currently fifth in the Western Conference with 27 points – five back of both Seattle and Vancouver. But SKC has three games in hand, which makes Sunday’s match a big one for both sides.
“It’s a huge test,” Ousted said. “I see them as one of the strongest teams in the Western Conference.”
The player to watch here is midfielder Benny Feilhaber. The Brazil-born American midfielder is second in MLS with nine assists. He also leads the team in chances created, successful passes, and touches.
Both teams will be missing some important pieces on Sunday.
Notably, SKC’s Graham Zusi is away with the U.S. at the Gold Cup. SKC also has some absences on the back line, including Canadian fullback Marcel de Jong (Gold Cup), Ike Opara (ruptured Achilles tendon), and Seth Sinovic (concussion).
As for Whitecaps FC, Russell Teibert and Darren Mattocks are both away on international duty at the Gold Cup, while Pa-Modou Kah (calf) and Pedro Morales (calf) could be sidelined as well.
This will be the sixth all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and SKC.
SKC have the edge with a 2W-1L-2D record, though Vancouver won last year’s meeting by a score of 2-0.
The two teams will meet again on August 15 in Kansas City.