The Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Dallas are set to renew their rivalry on Saturday, when the struggling ‘Caps will host first-place FCD at BC Place (10:30 pm ET; TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US).
These two don’t like each other all that much. Players have butted heads, coaches have exchanged words and we’ve even seen a controversial playoff matchup, with Dallas beating Vancouver in the Knockout Round of the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs on the back of a disputed penalty kick call.
One of the main instigators in the rivalry was, of course, Blas Perez, who played for Dallas from 2012-2015 before his contract expired, and his rights were sent to Vancouver in exchange for the rights to out-of-contract midfielder Mauro Rosales in February.
The Panamanian international had four goals against Vancouver during his time with Dallas, including this bizarre, miraculous strike in FCD’s 2-1 against the ‘Caps in September 2014. Perez, as is his wont, was also involved in his share of dustups against Vancouver, earning a suspension for hitting ‘Caps defender Jordan Harvey with an elbow in April 2012.
Saturday’s match will be the first time Perez and Rosales face their former teams from the other side of the rivalry. Now both 35, it’s unlikely that Perez or Rosales will ever be a regular MLS starter again, but both have made an impact in 2016.
Perez, who missed the Whitecaps’ loss at RSL last week due to a hamstring tweak but says he’s ready to go for FCD, hasn’t yet found the scoresheet in his five appearances this year but drew the fittingly controversial winning penalty in Vancouver’s 2-1 victory at Seattle in March.
Rosales, of course, had a dramatic effect last week, curling in a pretty free kick to give FCD their 2-1 win over SKC on Sunday night.
Both players should continue to contribute off the bench and as spot starters this year, though Perez will probably end the year having made a bigger splash than Rosales.
That’s less about talent than it is about circumstances. Barring injuries, Perez will likely play far more for Vancouver’s flailing front-line – shut out in three straight, no goals from the run of play all year – than Rosales will in Dallas’ stacked midfield.
If he’s fit enough, I’d start Perez on Saturday night. Octavio Rivero could probably use a bit of a break, and I’m guessing Blas will be a little extra motivated to find the back of the net against his old buddies. Carl Robinson has tried several other combos – he might as well run out a super energized SuperRaton on Saturday.