Preview: Whitecaps, RSL square off at BC Place

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Real Salt Lake (image)

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Real Salt Lake will try again – this time in a different venue – when they meet Thursday evening at BC Place. The game is a makeup from a contest postponed from July 16 at Empire Field, due to a waterlogged field. Whitecaps FC opened the BC Place era for MLS with a 1-0 loss to Cascadia Cup rivals Portland last weekend. Real have lost three in a row, coming off a 2-1 loss at the LA Galaxy last weekend.

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REFEREE: Chris Penso. SAR (bench): Frank Anderson; JAR (opposite): Jeff Hosking; 4th: Paul Ward
MLS Career: 12 games; FC/gm: 23.7; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 4; pens: 7

INJURY REPORT: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – OUT: FW Atiba Harris (R knee surgery); DF Jonathan Leathers (R hamstring strain); GK Brian Sylvestre (L knee surgery); MF Russell Teibert (R toe laceration); PROBABLE: MF John Thorrington (L groin strain) …

REAL SALT LAKE – OUT: DF Tony Beltran (L adductor strain); GK Kyle Reynish (R ankle bone spur); MF Nelson González (R foot fracture); PROBABLE: MF Javier Morales (L ankle fracture dislocation); DF Robbie Russell (R hamstring strain); GK Nick Rimando (L shoulder impingement)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: Will Johnson (Canada), Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Jean Alexandre (Haiti), Kyle Beckerman (USA), Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador)
SUSPENDED: VAN: Eric Hassli (caution accumulation; through Oct. 6) … RSL: Fabian Espindola (caution accumulation; through Oct. 6)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: VAN: Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: VAN: Michael Boxall, Jeb Brovsky, Gershon Koffie, Jonathan Leathers … RSL: Jean Alexandre, Robbie Russell, Collen Warner, Chris Wingert

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (1 meeting): Real 1 win, 2 goals … Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 0 goals …Ties 0
•    The contest is a makeup game for a match originally scheduled for July 16, which was postponed due to heavy rain and flooded pitch. That game was scheduled for Empire Field.
•    Jean Alexandre scored his first MLS goal then set up Fabian Espindola for another as Real won in the first meeting of the clubs, June 4 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
•    Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. VAN: P1 W1 L0 D0 … Tom Soehn v RSL: P6 W2 L4 D1

LAST MEETING
6/4: RSL 2, VAN 0 (Alexandre 32; Espíndola 79)
•    Real took the lead after 32 minutes. Kyle Beckerman threaded a pass to Jean Alexandre, just beating the offside trap, and the Haitian held off a couple of defenders before cutting toward goal and lifting a shot over Whitecaps FC 'keeper Joe Cannon
•    Then in the 79th minute, Alexandre evaded a midfield challenge and flicked it into space for Fabian Espíndola, who raced onto the pass then finished clinically from inside the area, putting a low shot into the right side of the net.
•    REAL SALT LAKE (4-4-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Collen Warner (Artur Aghasyan 87), Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Nelson Gonzalez (Andy Williams 67) - Jean Alexandre (Luis Gil 81), Fabian Espindola.
•    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Bilal Duckett, Jay DeMerit, Mouloud Akloul (Michael Nanchoff 74), Alain Rochat - Shea Salinas, Gershon Koffie, Peter Vagenas (Alexandre Morfaw 46), Russell Teibert (Omar Salgado 46) - Davide Chiumiento, Camilo.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC weren’t able to open their new home with the same magic as their temporary domicile, falling 1-0 to the Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon in the first MLS game at BC Place. Whitecaps FC have 22 points from 30 matches, sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The game's lone goal and the first goal at BC Place came in the 25th minute. Diego Chara picked off an errant ball and countered quickly, crossing to a wide-open Kenny Cooper at the edge of the area. He controlled the ball and lashed a skipping shot past Joe Cannon and into the right corner.
•    Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn made three changes to the team that suffered a 3-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC in the final game at Empire Field. Jeb Brovsky came in for Jonathan Leathers at right back, Alain Rochat returned from suspension for Michael Boxall, and Shea Salinas started in place of Mustapha Jarju.
•    VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Jeb Brovsky, Alain Rochat, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey - Shea Salinas (Long Tan 80), Peter Vagenas (John Thorrington 57), Gershon Koffie, Camilo - Eric Hassli, Davide Chiumiento (Mustapha Jarju 68).

TEAM NEWS
•    The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 21,000, but unlike the opening game at Empire Field, Whitecaps FC weren’t able to replicate a victory as they did in a 2-0 win against Toronto FC on March 26.
•    “You come away frustrated for sure, disappointed. I didn’t think we had the best of energy in the first half and it’s hard to explain when you look at this venue and the excitement,” said Whitecaps FC interim head coach Tom Soehn. “You don’t get too many opportunities to open up a new stadium of this quality, especially against a rival.”
•    BC Place was the home of the Vancouver Whitecaps of the NASL during the final two outdoor seasons in that league (1983 and 1984), and hosted Soccer Bowl ’83.
•    After playing as a wide midfielder and even at right back, John Thorrington fitted into a central midfield role when he came on for the final half-hour plus.
•    “I’m just disappointed with the energy in the first half,” Soehn said. “We saw John came in and gave us a lot of life and at the end we found it, but you have to be able to do it for longer periods.”
•    The field at BC Place is wider than Empire Field, something that Whitecaps FC were hoping to exploit.
•    “It’s definitely a big field, which I like personally; it gives me more space to run at guys,” said winger Shea Salinas. “But also at times, it felt like I was on an island out there all by myself and I didn’t see the ball a lot, and I think that’s because I’m used to a smaller field and my dimensions were a little off. I was too far out, I wasn’t connected and the first half I touched the ball maybe three times and I think it was due to that.”
•    Whitecaps FC were shut out for a third time in the last seven games. They’ve scored four goals total in that time, since exploding for four goals in a win against the Chicago Fire on Aug. 7 at Empire Field.
•    “We created some stuff late, but we didn’t do enough in the offensive third early,” Soehn said. “I felt like Eric was high and we didn’t get enough support underneath him from our centre mids. When we did get isolated I don’t think we did enough in the final third to be creative.“
•    Said Salinas: “We’ve got to find a way to get our playmakers the ball - we’ve got to get Hassli the ball to his feet, we’ve got to get Davide [Chiumiento] the ball, and we’ve got to get Camilo the ball where he can take guys on. We just didn’t get them in good positions tonight – whether that’s their movement or our lack of ability on finding them, that’s something we’ve got to do better.”
•    Eric Hassli has now gone seven consecutive matches without adding to his team-leading 10 goals, matching a seven-game goalless run he had earlier this season.
•    “I have great service,” Hassli said. “Look – tonight I have two, three, four good chances – it’s my problem. I missed the target. It’s not my teammates, my teammates did a great job, they gave me great balls and I didn’t score.”

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake saw their losing slide reach three games, falling to a 2-1 defeat to the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. RSL is in third place in the Western Conference, with 51 points from 31 matches.

LAST MATCH
•    Real Salt Lake opened the scoring in the 41st minute. Javier Morales swung a corner kick to the near post and Fabian Espíndola rose up and powered a glancing header inside the far post.
•    But the Galaxy drew even in the 59th minute. David Beckham lofted a ball into the penalty area into the path of Chad Barrett, and as Jamison Olave was unable to bundle him off the ball, Barrett poked a bouncing ball past RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando from close range.
•    The Galaxy then took the lead in the 72nd minute. Todd Dunivant sent a Beckham cross back across the face of goal, but the ball deflected off defender Nat Borchers' thigh and bounced softly into the back of the net.
•    RSL head coach Jason Kreis made four changes to the team that fell 3-0 to the Chicago Fire at Rio Tinto Stadium. Chris Schuler came in for Robbie Russell at right back, Ned Grabavoy and Yordany Alvarez started in midfield for Andy Williams and the suspended Kyle Beckerman, and Javier Morales made his long-awaited return, in place of Luis Gil.
•    REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler - Ned Grabavoy, Yordany Alvarez (Andy Williams 74), Will Johnson - Javier Morales (Collen Warner 80) - Fabian Espindola (Paulo Jr. 65), Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS
•    Real Salt Lake have lost three games in a row in league play for the first time since July 2007, when they lost to Toronto FC, Columbus and Kansas City in a row.
•    “We didn’t lose by 3 or 4 goals. I wanted improvement, I wanted a collective team effort and I wanted a team that showed a little bit more discipline, more difficult to break down than we have been in the last two games and we got all that,” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “We didn’t get the result that I had hoped for but we got a lot of hard work from the guys and we got a lot of sense of improvement.”
•    Javier Morales made his first start since suffering a fractured ankle on May 7 and recorded the assist on Fabian Espindola’s goal vs. LA, playing the full 90 minutes.
•    “We are disappointed obviously,”said defender Nat Borchers. “We wanted come here and get a shutout and at least come away with a point. I thought in the first half we did pretty well we controlled the ball and capitalized on the one chance we had. In the second half two lapses in concentration cost us the game.”
•    Fabian Espindola scored his 10th goal of the season, pulling him into a tie for the team lead with Costa Rican international Alvaro Saborio. For the first time in club history, RSL had two players hit for double-digits in goals in a league season.
•    “First there was a missed opportunity by [Alvaro] Saborio off a corner that went through the whole penalty area but it got blocked and we were awarded another corner kick,” said Espindola. “In the second corner [Javier] Morales hits it well, the ball started to dip at the near post and I headed it toward the far post.”
•    Real will be without five players due to international duty: Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador), Will Johnson (Canada), Jean Alexandre (Haiti) and Kyle Beckerman (United States).Goalkeeper Nick Rimando will remain with RSL prior to joining the United States on Friday in Miami.
•    With the loss, Real were ruled out of any chance to win the Supporters’ Shield. The LA Galaxy will claim it with one more victory this season, heading into the Tuesday game vs. New York.
•    “They are the best team in the league. They have the most points for a reason and I think we gave them a pretty difficult challenge tonight so I am pleased,” Kreis said.