BURNABY, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps are heading down to play Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Saturday with just one goal in mind: to get the side's first-ever MLS road win at the 18th attempt.
Confidence is high in Vancouver after a promising opening day 2-0 win over Canadian rivals Montreal Impact, and they hope to make it two wins on the bounce in Southern California (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
“There are some advantages to being on the road,” head coach Martin Rennie told MLSsoccer.com after a training session on Thursday. “It brings your team together, it brings that unity where you know it’s just you guys – there’s no crowd to help you. There’s less home comforts and that just makes you stronger and helps when you’re on the road, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing this game.”
To hear anything positive about road matches is a big shift for a club which endured a diabolical time away from British Columbia in 2011, going 0-12-5.
“To have a long season last year without an away win, it’s a huge key for us to start right this season,” captain Jay DeMerit said. “To keep the same attitude in terms of keeping behind the ball and staying on the same page as an XI are going to be key in trying to get our first away win early this year.
HIGHLIGHTS: Vancouver 2, Montreal 0
“When you get in those ruts it’s sometimes really hard to get out of them. We were in one last year, and couldn’t get that monkey off our backs. If we can get that away win early, it’s better, and we’ll look to Saturday to do just that.”
Chivas USA are coming off a 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo and, despite the fact the loss came in stoppage time, it was only a number of top-class saves from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy which kept the Goats in the game at all.
But perhaps the biggest threat for the ‘Caps to think about going into Saturday will be Chivas USA Designated Player Juan Pablo Ángel, who has been lethal since arriving from city rivals LA Galaxy, scoring seven goals in his first 10 matches.
“He’s got great movement off the ball,” DeMerit said of Ángel, whom he first sparred with as a member of Watford when the Colombian played for Aston Villa. “You just have to stay switched on with guys like him, because if you give him a chance he’ll finish it – he’s made a living off that for years.
“He’s a prolific scorer when given the opportunity, so it’s just about making sure we communicate well so he doesn’t get in between us as defenders, and make sure we have a good responsibility to mark him on corners and on set pieces where he can be dangerous.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.