BURNABY, B.C. – Keep Dwayne De Rosario quiet, and keep the win streak alive.
After two clean-sheet victories for the Vancouver Whitecaps to start the 2012 MLS campaign, it’s about carrying that fine early form forward against D.C. United on Saturday (10 pm ET; watch LIVE online).
“There’s definitely strength in momentum and we definitely have it right now, but the main thing is to stay focused on each individual game,” captain Jay DeMerit told MLSsoccer.com after Friday’s training session at Burnaby Lake. “Confidence is something that comes when you win, and win consistently, but a lot of things can change in one game so I think we have to stay focused on each game ahead of us and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Keeping that winning start alive will likely depend on the defensive unit’s ability to shut down 2011 MLS Most Valuable Player and Canadian Player of the Year De Rosario, who had one goal and two assists in three matches against Vancouver last season.
De Rosario played against the ‘Caps in three different kits in 2011, starting with Toronto FC, then having a stint with the New York Red Bulls before finding his form after a move to D.C. United.
Judging from DeMerit’s description, DeRo’s movement is just as difficult to forecast on the field as it is off it.
“He’s unpredictable,” DeMerit said of De Rosario. “He chooses his spots. He can lull you to sleep, and he’s got world-class technique to hurt you. You can’t switch off with him. He can strike from 30 yards out, he can put a trick on you and fake you out, or he can slide someone else in with a good pass. You have to be aware of all elements of his game, and if you nullify him you have a good chance to win.”
Clean sheets have been a big reason for Vancouver’s two wins to date, but who will get the chance to claim one against United is a big question.
Head coach Martin Rennie told reporters Joe Cannon is fit to play, but the 37-year-old goalkeeper looked a bit agitated after a conversation with Rennie following practice, indicating Brad Knighton, who replaced Cannon halfway through Saturday’s 1-0 win over Chivas USA, might be given the start.
The club expects Darren Mattocks to be home from hospital on Monday after suffering a burn injury to his shoulder and upper arm on Sunday, and Rennie anticipates the Jamaican will return to training in the near future.
John Thorrington (quad), Atiba Harris (knee) and Gershon Koffie (ankle) will return to full training next week, but Rennie wouldn’t rule any of them out for Saturday altogether, although Thorrington is officially listed as out.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.