Revolution-Whitecaps FC Preview
Though the New England Revolution are on a solid unbeaten run, they're aware of how difficult it's become to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps on their home pitch.
New England looks to extend its streak to six in league play while dealing Vancouver its first home defeat Saturday night.
The Revolution (5-4-5) possess the league's stingiest defense, having allowed nine goals while no other team has given up fewer than 12. They have gone 3-0-2 over their last five while shutting out their last four league opponents after a scoreless draw with D.C. last Saturday.
New England's three-game winning streak came to an end, though, as it was held without a goal for the first time in six MLS matches.
"Our defense has been rock solid, so that's the thing we need to keep going," defender Lee Nguyen said. "Then, we have to put our chances away."
Vancouver (4-5-4) has scored nine goals over its last four contests but fell 3-2 at Seattle last Saturday after setting a season worst for goals allowed. It hasn't shut out an opponent since beating Toronto 1-0 in the season opener March 2.
"That's only the (third) game we've lost in the last (nine) games," coach Martin Rennie said. "Now we dust ourselves off and look forward to the next one."
The Whitecaps are 3-0-3 in BC Place and one of only three teams yet to lose at home in MLS play.
"We've put up some good performances (at home) and gotten good results," striker Kenny Miller said. "We'll look to continue that on Saturday and get back to our winning ways."
No matter how well they've been playing, the Revolution understand how difficult it will be to come away with points in Vancouver.
"We know they haven't lost at home and that it will be a good crowd there," defender Jose Goncalves said. "We have to take that challenge very seriously and take points."
The Whitecaps, who have scored 11 times at home, face a tough challenge breaking through a New England defense that has blanked four of six opponents while going 2-2-2 on the road.
"They've been on a good run," Rennie said. "They've had a lot of good defensive performances and they're working hard. They're around the same place as us in the (standings) and we need to make sure to set a high tempo."
Vancouver could be without defender Andy O'Brien after he suffered a hamstring injury against Seattle. If he can't go, Carlyle Mitchell will take his spot in the lineup.
"It's all about three points," Mitchell said. "I'll just play my heart out and hopefully get three points."
No matter who is on the field, New England coach Jay Heaps believes his club is in for a tough contest.
"They do a lot of good things, and they'll punish you if you make a mistake," Heaps said. "They're a team that has a lot of pieces."
New England has outscored Vancouver 6-2 while going 2-0-1 in three all-time meetings.