The Vancouver Whitecaps continue their MLS campaign in the second of back-to-back away games before the season goes on a break during the group stages of the World Cup in Brazil. The Whitecaps flew east to face a Philadelphia Union squad that has had a bumpy start to their 2014 that places them in eighth in the Eastern Conference, barely ahead of the Chicago Fire and Montreal Impact.
The Whitecaps will walk into PPL Park flying high after a thrilling victory last weekend in Portland and picking up points in their last six games including wins in three of their last four, including back-to-back road wins in Columbus and Portland. With a record of (5-2-5) the boys in blue and white currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, but with two or even three games in hand over the current top five squads. Can the Whitecaps pick up a third consecutive road win?
The Philadelphia Union have only won two out of the last 13 games, but they are coming back home after a convincing 3-0 road win against Chivas USA last Saturday. As we know, playing on the road in MLS is never an easy feat, especially after a coast to coast trip, however when looking at the form that the Whitecaps are currently riding, their historical positive record against Eastern opposition and the shaky season by Philadelphia, a third consecutive road win seems….feasible.
The game in Portland left many positives, however there are a still a few question marks surrounding Carl Robinson’s squad ahead of Saturday’s affair. Should Kekuta Manneh remain in the starting XI despite yet again another stinker performance as a starter? The right back position will most likely continue to be covered by a shaky and inconsistent Nigel Reo-Coker until World Cup-bound Steven Beitashour returns after his participation in the tournament, but will this be the Englishman’s final game as a Whitecap? It is hard to argue moving red-hot Erik "Rufio" Hurtado from the striker position where he has flourished in recent weeks, but what does this mean for Darren Mattocks?
There are a few key players that you will want to keep your out during this game:
David Ousted: The Whitecaps Danish goalkeeper had an outstanding performance in the Rose City that kept the Whitecaps in the game and ultimately secured the win for Vancouver.
Pedro "Pablo" Morales: Selected for the EA Sports Team of the Week due to his two-goal and two-assist game last weekend, it will be interesting to see if the Chilean playmaker can once again dictate and orchestrate Vancouver’s attack, or if MLS opponents will start reducing spaces for him in an attempt to limit his impact.
Erik Hurtado: The Whitecaps youngster is riding a four goals in four games streak, his confidence is rising, his first touch, decision making, off-the-ball movement and distribution is much, much, much improved, so we are looking forward to another solid performance.
Austin Berry: The 2012 Rookie of the Year winner was traded to Philadelphia from Chicago in the offseason to many people’s surprise. The 25 year old has had an inconsistent season so far in the city of Brotherly Love, but he is still an imposing presence in the heart of the Union’s back line.
Conor Casey: The 32-year-old veteran is coming from a two-goal performance against Chivas USA last weekend. His large physical presence can potentially create problems for Vancouver’s back line so DeMerit and O’Brien will have to be at the top of their games to keep him in check.
You can check the latest episode of From The Backline, where we talk about the Portland game, preview the Philadelphia match, and discuss World Cup news, Panini stickers, hipsters and homeless people.
Make sure to also see our viewing guide of the match to ensure you don’t miss any of the action!