United-Whitecaps FC Preview
After needing 16 matches to earn two victories in their 2011 inaugural season, the Vancouver Whitecaps have opened with back-to-back wins.
They appear to have a decent chance of making it three in a row Saturday night when they host a D.C. United team still seeking its first victory.
Vancouver has yet to allow a goal, opening with a 2-0 win over Montreal on March 10 and a 1-0 victory last Saturday against Chivas USA.
Captain Jay DeMerit's header in the 68th minute put the Whitecaps on the scoreboard last weekend and helped them earn their first road win after going 0-12-5 away from Vancouver last season.
"It's a great start, but it's just a beginning and we know it's nothing yet," striker Sebastien Le Toux said.
The team realizes it's a little premature to start the playoff talk considering how badly last season quickly turned.
The Whitecaps also won their opener in 2011 but went 0-6-8 in their next 14 matches until beating Philadelphia on June 18. They then went another seven games until picking up their third win Aug. 7 against Chicago.
"A lot's been said about these first couple weeks, but I think our focus is in the right place," DeMerit said.
The Whitecaps have looked sharp under coach Martin Rennie's 4-2-3-1 formation, although they've given their first two opponents several scoring opportunities. The Impact had seven shots on goal and Chivas had five, but Joe Cannon and Brad Knighton haven't allowed a score.
Cannon is expected to get the start despite leaving last weekend's game in the first half with a left quad strain.
Vancouver's defense could have better luck against a D.C. team that has had one shot on goal in each of its first two games.
United opened with a 1-0 loss to Kansas City on March 10 and were on the verge of suffering another shutout until Nick DeLeon scored in the 87th minute in Sunday's 3-1 loss to Los Angeles.
"There are signs of improvement, we just have to keep improving," coach Ben Olsen said. "I'm concerned after 0-2, no one wants to be 0-2 and have to deal with this, but we're moving forward and we'll get things sorted out."
With last weekend's defeat, United dropped their fifth straight road game since beating Chivas 3-0 on Sept. 10. D.C. closed the road portion of its 2011 schedule with a 2-1 loss to Vancouver on Oct. 12.
United won the first meeting 4-0, as Chris Pontius scored twice.
The Whitecaps could be without forward Darren Mattocks, the second pick of January's MLS SuperDraft, after he burned his upper right arm and shoulder while making dinner Sunday.