Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Minnesota United FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC vs. MINNESOTA UNITED FC
BC Place | Vancouver, British Columbia
09.13.17 | MLS Week #27 | MLS Game #27
9:00 p.m. CT (FOX9+, MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN)

2017 Records:
MIN: 7-14-5; 1-8-2 on the road
VAN: 12-9-5; 7-3-3 on the road

After a 1-1 draw at home against Philadelphia Union this past weekend, MNUFC hits the road for a week north of the border and a pair of matches against Canadian teams. First up is Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who will host the Loons on Wednesday, September 13 in a match that kicks off at 9:00 p.m. CT with coverage beginning on FOX9+ and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN at 8:30 p.m.

Unbeaten in their last four (but with three one-point wins and one draw in that span), Whitecaps FC are sitting at third in the Western Conference and would love to climb above either of their Cascadia Cup brethren and secure a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Loons will be looking to spoil that plan, although the challenges that come with matches on the road will be at least doubled for them as they’ll head across Canada to face Montreal Impact just three days later. For Head Coach Adrian Heath, it means meeting those challenges head on and not letting players off the hook.

“I think the first thing is you take away as many excuses as player could have for not performing or not playing well,” he said. “Trying to find somewhere to train has been an issue. Vancouver offered us their place, but it’s 7:30 tonight. By the time we get there, it’s over an hour, and you’re not going to get back until 10 o’clock tonight and it throws everything else out. We’ll just train at a local place down the road and it’s fine, but there’s not going to be a lot of training. It’s basically an idea of getting the guys regenerated from this game last Saturday and getting them in the right frame of mind.”

Cultivating the proper focus is paramount for a team that came out flat against Philadelphia and allowed a goal in the first five minutes last Saturday. MNUFC has shown that when they’re locked in, they’re capable of taking down top flight teams like the Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers. And although they ultimately lost to Seattle Sounders FC in stoppage time, Heath feels they’re capable of pushing teams on the road.

“There’ll be a couple changes from the team on Saturday, forced and unforced,” he said. “But I just want us to carry on our previous two performances on the road. Been terrific. If we play like that, we’ll be in the game and we’ll give ourselves a chance. If we play like we started on Saturday, we might be out of the game before the game even gets to halftime.”

Against Seattle at home on August 5, Minnesota struggled to contain that team’s powerful counterattack led by the likes of Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris. Vancouver will also test the Loons’ ability to run their offense while preparing for a quick strike going the other direction.

“The one thing that they do, they sit in very deep and catch you on the break,” said Heath. “[Cristian] Techera’s very quick. Now whether it’s the kid [Alphonso] Davies who’s come through the Canadian system or the new guys they bought — they bought four or five guys who are all extremely quick on the counterattack. We have played against teams like that, like when we went to Houston, and the most important thing for us to be aware of is that when we’re in possession of the ball, deep in their half, are we set up for when the ball turns over? That’s huge for us going into the game.”

MNUFC will be missing its captain, defender Francisco Calvo, but for the happiest of reasons: he and his wife welcomed their first child, a son, to the world this week. Calvo’s deft footwork in the box against the Union ultimately led to the goal that earned the squad a draw and a point, plus he’s been more involved in the offense overall since shifting to left back with the arrival of defender Michael Boxall.

“He’s keen to be there and he’s been at the hospital for a couple of days and wants to be there tomorrow,” said Heath. “Ideally we’d have preferred him here but hey: I get it. It’s their first kid and he wants to be home with his wife. We’ve got Burchy back and we’ll see how he does because he might come in. Christian [Ramirez] also. He’s very close to getting a start as well. Whether we start him or whether we put him on the bench and get him ready for Montreal, we’ll wait and see.”

The long and winding road will continue for MNUFC as they next head to Montreal to face the Impact on Saturday, September 16 at Stade Saputo. The match kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CT with pre-match coverage beginning at 6:00 p.m. on FOX9+ and MNUFC Radio on 1500 ESPN.

DISCIPLINARY REPORT

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FIRST TOUCHES

  • Christian Bolanos, Kendall Waston, Jose Leiton, Francisco Calvo and Johan Venegas are all members of the Costa Rica national team.
  • Michael Boxall played the 2011 season with Vancouver Whitecaps FC after being taken by the club in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft.
  • Tony Tchani, Ethan Finlay and Bernardo Anor were teammates on Columbus Crew SC from 2012 through 2014.
  • Brek Shea and Kevin Molino were teammates on Orlando City SC under Adrian Heath in 2015 and 2016.
  • Shea and Miguel Ibarra shared the field as members of the U.S. national team on February 8, 2017 in a friendly match against Panama.
  • Ben McKendry and Justin Davis both attended the University of New Mexico.
  • Ethan Finlay extended his point streak to three matches with a goal in the 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Union last week. He has two goals and two assists since joining Minnesota on August 9.
  • Finlay is the third MNUFC player to reach a three-match point streak this year, with Christian Ramirez (March 18 - April 1) and Kevin Molino (March 12 - April 1) also arriving at that mark.
  • Both of Minnesota’s goals against Vancouver came from defenders, as Francisco Calvo and Jerome Thiesson opened their MLS goals account back on June 24.
  • Sam Nicholson took six shots against Philadelphia, tying the club’s single-match record set by Ramirez back on April 1 vs. Real Salt Lake.
  • Nicholson also set a new club record for corner kicks in a match, taking nine last Saturday with seven coming in the second half.
  • This is the first time Minnesota has played in British Columbia since 2010, when both clubs were in the USSF D-2 Pro League. The teams played to a 1-1 draw at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.
  • Ibson has earned a Good Behavior Incentive reduction to his yellow card total after going five matches without receiving a caution.
  • Vancouver is the last team to receive an own goal in MLS play. Orlando City SC’s Tommy Redding put the ball in his own net in the ninth minute of Whitecaps FC’s eventual 2-1 win.
  • Minnesota and Vancouver combined for six yellow cards in their last encounter.
  • The Loons are 1-3-1 against Cascadia Cup teams and 0-1-1 against Canadian teams.
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