Preview: Whitecaps - Union

Sebastien Le Toux and the rest of the Philadelphia Union make their first trip to BC Place on Saturday. - Drew Hallowell

Mirror, mirror...if you're a Vancouver Whitecaps fan looking for the low-down on the Philadelphia Union in advance of their visit to BC Place this weekend, you pretty much know the tale of the tape already, as the Union's numbers are remarkably similar to those of the Caps - almost eerily so.

MATCH AT A GLANCE

If you're hoping for a close-fought battle between the Cap and Union this weekend, you're probably in luck. The two sides have clashed three times thus far in MLS play - with both teams earning 1:0 victories at home, to go with a scoreless draw at PPL park last year.

Just past the halfway mark of the 2013 season, the Caps (9W-5D-6L) are 4th in the Western Conference with 32 points. Philadelphia (8W-7D-6L) occupy 4th in the Eastern Conference, on 31 points.

While points and table position are pretty much the same - they're not the only similarity:

Goals for: Caps 33, Union 32
Goals against: Caps 28, Union 30
Average match rating: Caps 7.0, Union 6.9

Both have lost only one match in their last six outings, but the Caps sport the better form: 4-1-1 as opposed to 2-3-1.

Fast facts:

  • Caps have scored at least 2 goals in their last 7 matches at home, and remain the only MLS team undefeated at home.
  • The Union have never played at BC Place stadium.
  • When playing on the road, 35% of the Union's goals have come from set pieces. At home, only 4% of Vancouver's goals have come off set pieces.
  • The Union tend to attack from the wings: 37% Right side, 35% Left side. In contrast, Vancouver concentrates its attack on the right: 42%.
UNION FORWARDS

The Union generally play out of a 4-4-2 scheme with their top scorer, Jack McInerney (10 G), usually paired up front with the imposing 190 lbs Conor Casey (7G, 4A). Unfortunately for the Union, Casey will miss the match due to accumulated cautions. Union coach John Hackworth could call upon the even more imposing Aaron Wheeler (6'4", 197 lbs) to fill in, or reunite Sebastien Le Toux (3G, 9A) with McInerney up top.

McInerney, in his fourth MLS season, is having a career year - including selection to the US team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Not bad for a 20-year-old. In fact, some are questioning why he wasn't selected to the MLS All-Star team. He'll undoubtedly be defensive assignment number one for the Whitecaps.

Caps fans will be familiar with Le Toux, who has settled in nicely to the City of Brotherly Love for his second go round there, but perhaps not so used to seeing him leading the league in assists. He'll be a threat that Vancouver can't afford to ignore if they wish to remain undefeated at home.

UNION MIDFIELD

The Union midfield has usually consisted of a combination drawn from either Danny Cruz, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel, and/or Le Toux, depending on how Hackworth has deployed him. Cruz generally plays wide right, but has been recently moved over to the left. He leads their midfield in shots, with 33, the second-highest total on the team, behind McInerney's total of 59. Carroll, an 11-year veteran of MLS, is their key holding mid, while Farfan (not to be confused with his twin brother, Gabriel, who also plays midfield for the Union) and Daniel have split time in the midfield.

UNION DEFENDERS

At the back, the Union feature two quality CBs: 4th-year man Amobi Okugo, a converted DM, and GA signee who went 6th overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft; and the very experienced Jeff Parke, who played with the Caps in 2009. Okugo and Parke lead the Union in overall match rating with 7.29 and 7.23 respectively. LB Raymon Gaddis is relatively inexperienced. He's in his second year of MLS, having been selected in the second round of the SuperDraft last year. RB Sheanon Williams is a regular - to such a degree that last season he passed Sebastien Le Toux as the all-time leader for the Union in games played and games started.

UNION KEEPER

Zac MacMath is a rangy keeper with a tendency to punch the ball clear when in doubt, and has struggled at times to command the box. He's played every match so far this year, following on from the 32 starts he got last season. His 1.43 GAA and 66 SV%, puts him 16th in the league among keepers who've played at least 10 matches. At only 21, MacMath's the youngest starting keeper in the league, and already has six clean sheets to his name this season.

FINAL NOTES

Plenty of speculation that recent acquisition David Ousted will get the start in goal for the Caps on Saturday.

Kekutah Manneh might also get a start following his run of impressive play as a late sub and in reserves matches.

Interesting potential matchup: LB Jordan Harvey vs Union F/M Sebastien Le Toux. The two are former teammates from their time with the Union in 2010, and then again afterward with the then-expansion Whitecaps.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Eighty Six Forever

You must be a member of Eighty Six Forever to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Eighty Six Forever. You should read them.

Join Eighty Six Forever

You must be a member of Eighty Six Forever to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Eighty Six Forever. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker