MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-6L-2D) will look to continue their rise up the Western Conference standings on Saturday when they visit expansion side Minnesota United FC (5W-9L-2D) at TCF Bank Stadium.
KICKOFF: 5 p.m. PT | TV: TSN 1/4 | RADIO: tsnvancouver.ca (pre-match show and first half also on TSN 1410).
Here’s everything you need to know about the match.
Newbies: This will be the first-ever meeting between Vancouver and Minnesota United FC, who are in the midst of their inaugural MLS campaign. The Loons enter the weekend ninth in the Western Conference with a 5W-9L-2D record. But all five of their wins have come at TCF Bank Stadium, where they’ve picked up impressive victories over Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC, and most recently Portland Timbers on Wednesday. So this certainly won’t be a walk in the park by any means.
On the road again: It’s been a while since the ‘Caps have played an MLS match away from home – over 40 days, in fact. But now they’ve got two in a row. In their last stretch of away fixtures, a four-match trip in April and May, Carl Robinson’s side put in four strong performances and managed to earn a pair of victories. Can they get another on Saturday? The ‘Caps currently sit sixth in the Western Conference, just above the red line, but have at least one game in hand over the five teams above them.
Bare bones: It’s no secret that Vancouver has a long injury list at the moment – the most recent additions being Christian Bolanos and Kendall Waston. That has forced Robinson to switch things up, moving Andrew Jacobson to centre back and thereby breaking up the midfield trio of Jacobson, Matias Laba and Tony Tchani that proved so influential on Vancouver’s last road trip. With Bolanos injured as well, the ‘Caps will be looking for someone to step up and drive play forward from midfield.
Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United FC): The danger man – and poster boy – for Minnesota is American striker Christian Ramirez. The 26-year-old spent three seasons with Minnesota in the NASL, scoring 51 goals, before making the jump to MLS. And he has picked up where he left off in the NASL. Ramirez, who scored Minnesota’s first goal in MLS, has a team-high nine goals so far this season, which has him tied for fourth in the MLS Golden Boot race.
Cristian Techera (Vancouver Whitecaps FC): One of Vancouver’s most exciting, and consistent, players so far this season has been Cristian Techera. The 5-foot-2 Uruguayan, who is the shortest player in MLS, now has four goals on the season after scoring a world-class free kick last weekend. What does The Bug have in store next?