Preview: 'Caps tasked with halting skid vs. tough Union

Vancouver vs. Philadelphia

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EMPIRE FIELD, Vancouver, B.C.
7 p.m. PT (RogersSN Pac; TCN-Phi)
June 18, 2011 (WEEK 14; MLS Game 132)

Vancouver Whitecaps FC return home to face a big test when the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union make their first visit to Empire Field. Whitecaps FC haven't won in league play since the season opener, but are coming off a stirring 2-2 draw at Seattle Sounders FC. Union are back on the road after playing to a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake last weekend. The teams met earlier this year, Union taking a 1-0 win at PPL Park.

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REFEREE: Alex Prus. SAR (bench): Corey Parker; JAR (opposite): Mike Kampmeinert; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 183 games; FC/gm: 27.4; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 42; pens: 50

INJURY REPORT: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC — OUT: GK Jay Nolly (L foot strain); MF Philippe Davies (L ankle sprain); FW Atiba Harris (R knee surgery); MF John Thorrington (R calf strain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Brian Sylvestre (R adductor strain) ... PHILADELPHIA UNION — OUT: MF Amobi Okugo (L ankle sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Gabriel Farfan (R quad strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey, Danny Mwanga, Sheanon Williams ... VAN: Terry Dunfield, Jonathan Leathers, Alain Rochat

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (1 meeting): Union 1 win, 1 goal ... Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 0 goals ... Ties 0
•    The teams met for the first time on March 26, a Carlos Ruiz goal in the 77th minute giving Union the victory at PPL Park.
•    Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. VAN: P1 W1 L0 D0 ... Tom Soehn v PHI: first game

LAST MEETING
3/26: PHI 1, VAN 0 (Ruiz 77)
•    Whitecaps FC went a man down when Eric Hassli became the first player in club history to be sent off. The French striker picked up two yellow cards — one in the 25th minute, the second in the 58th minute.
•    Union finally took advantage in the 77th minute. Sebastien Le Toux found himself alone in the box with the ball after a deflection bounced right to him. He slotted it over to a wide-open Carlos Ruiz, who had little trouble finding the back of the net for his first goal with Philadelphia.
•    PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-3-2-1): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey (Jack McInerney 66) - Stefani Miglioranzi, Brian Carroll, Kyle Nakazawa (Roger Torres 66) - Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga (Gabriel Farfan 83) - Carlos Ruiz
•    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-2): Jay Nolly — Jonathan Leathers, Greg Janicki (Nizar Khalfan 64), Michael Boxall, Alain Rochat - Wes Knight (Davide Chiumiento 69), Gershon Koffie, Terry Dunfield, Blake Wagner - Camilo, Atiba Harris.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

Vancouver Whitecaps FC had their winless run reach an MLS-record 14 games, but this time felt closer to victory, coming back for a 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field on Saturday evening. Whitecaps FC have 11 points from 15 matches, sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

•    Whitecaps FC broke through first in the 29th minute. Camilo's clever cutback in the left of the area led to a foul from Osvaldo Alonso, and Eric Hassli calmly buried the penalty kick, chipping the ball down the middle.
•    Mauro Rosales pulled Sounders FC level in the 81st minute. A deflected cross from the left fell to Rosales in the area and struck home inside Joe Cannon's left-hand post.
•    Seattle then pulled ahead in the 84th minute. Alonso picked off a pass from Shea Salinas and lashed a left-footed blast from outside the area into the lower corner.
•    But barely a minute later, Vancouver scored the stunning equalizer. Hassli volleyed a dipping shot from outside the penalty area at the right corner of the box, looping it over Kasey Keller and into the goal off the inside of the far post to salvage a point for the visitors.
•    Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn made three changes to the team that lost 2-0 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Jonathan Leathers came in at fullback for Bilal Duckett, and Jeb Brovsky and Eric Hassli came into the team for Peter Vagenas and Russell Teibert.
•    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-1-1): Joe Cannon - Jonathan Leathers, Jay DeMerit, Mouloud Akloul, Alain Rochat - Shea Salinas (Bilal Duckett 90), Gershon Koffie, Jeb Brovsky (Michael Nanchoff 85), Camilo - Davide Chiumiento (Peter Vagenas 74) - Eric Hassli.

TEAM NEWS

•    While it was a satisfying point earned for Whitecaps FC, their winless streak was still extended to 14 games — the third-longest in MLS history. It's now the longest ever within a single season; the league record is 18 games without a victory set by Real Salt Lake from Aug. 10, 2005 to May 6, 2006.
•    "Any time you come to Seattle, not just the rivalry between us but the atmosphere here, you know it's going to be difficult. I thought we did a great job first half of keeping our shape and making it hard for them to play," said Whitecaps FC coach Tommy Soehn. " ... Going down the first goal I thought we hung our heads. The second one hurt but I give our guys credit to come back and respond the way they did.
•    The 'Caps have lost just twice over the last seven league games, and have scored late equalizers twice in that stretch to snatch draws (also May 11 vs. San Jose).
•    "We still have to do it over 90 minutes," Soehn said. "But we definitely feel as if we're heading in the right direction. We can build off this."
•    Vancouver's Eric Hassli recorded his second two-goal game in MLS in the draw against Seattle, including a stunning strike for the 85th-minute equalizer.
•    "You could have put two goalies in there," said Whitecaps 'keeper Joe Cannon. "I don't think I've seen a goal from that angle like that. That's got to be one of the world's top goals of the year." Said defender Jonathan Leathers: "It was unreal. I don't think I've seen a better goal. It came completely by surprise."
•    Hassli and LA's Landon Donovan are the only players in MLS with more than one multi-goal game. "It's just the beginning," Alain Rochat said. "We're about to see the real Eric Hassli."
•    Hassli's first-half penalty kick gave Whitecaps FC the lead on the road for the first time in MLS play.

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Philadelphia Union moved their unbeaten run to four games, playing another 1-1 draw, this time with Real Salt Lake at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon. Union have 22 points from 13 matches on the year, leading the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

•    Union took the lead in the 24th minute when Michael Farfan ran down a pass from defender Sheanon Williams in the right corner and chipped it to the center of the penalty area, where Keon Daniel's header found the back of the net.
•    But the visitors pulled level in the 53rd minute, RSL forward Jean Alexandre won the ball from Farfan in the center of the pitch and fed the ball ahead to a streaking Espíndola, who cut the ball back on defender Carlos Valdés in the area and fired a low shot past Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón.
•    Union manager Peter Nowak made three changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel and Danny Mwanga came into the team for Justin Mapp, Gabriel Farfan and Jack McInerney.
•    PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey (Justin Mapp 58) - Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Roger Torres 67), Kyle Nakazawa (Jack McInerney 74) - Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.

TEAM NEWS

•    Philadelphia Union remain one of three teams in MLS unbeaten at home (4-0-3), along with LA (4-0-4) and Sporting KC (0-0-1).
•    "It's frustrating because we know we should still be two points ahead of New York," Nowak said. "And [Real Salt Lake] didn't create anything, just the one shot."
•    In 11 of 13 games this season, Union have scored one goal or fewer. The exceptions came in the back-to-back wins against Chicago and Toronto — two goals vs. the Fire followed by the MLS season-high vs. TFC.
•    "We talked in the locker room about pushing for a second goal," coach Peter Nowak said. "That was my point to the guys. We gave [Real Salt Lake] a chance to come back and in one shot, that's it, the game is over. From this perspective, the locker room is pretty disappointed."
•    While they haven't recorded a clean sheet in seven games, Union are still third in team defense in MLS with 0.85 goals allowed per game, behind Real Salt Lake (0.58) and the LA Galaxy (0.82).
•    "We didn't allow them to break us down. I think we got behind the ball very well," defender Jordan Harvey said after the match. "They're a team that likes to keep possession and I thought our midfield really worked hard to disrupt them. Our back line stayed really organized, which didn't allow them many chances."
•    The club on Monday announced the signing of Serbian forward Veljko Paunovic. A member of 12 different clubs since beginning his career in 1994, last with Serbian side FK Partizan, Paunovic had announced his retirement in late 2008 because of family problems.
•    "I thought this was the best opportunity for me," said Paunovic. "I feel very motivated to come here. And I feel physically very good. I've been doing this all my life, ever since I was six, so my body still feels fit and good and wants to compete."