Well-rested Whitecaps set for home tilt vs. FC Dallas (Jun 17, 2017)
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC return home after a week off to play FC Dallas in a matchup of two of the better MLS Western Conference teams on Saturday night.
Vancouver (6-6-1) is tied for fifth place with 19 points while FC Dallas (6-3-5) is tied for third place with 23.
A win would move Whitecaps to within one point of FC Dallas. A loss would give FC Dallas a seven-point cushion. Although the season is not yet at its midway point, this matchup is important in terms of jockeying for a playoff spot down the road.
Vancouver had last week off because of FIFA international play. FC Dallas, meanwhile, has short rest after opening defense of its U.S. Open Cup championship on Wednesday. FC Dallas posted a 2-1 victory over the Tulsa Roughnecks FC.
"It's about getting good rest," FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges said. "Only 72 hours between games is tough. You try to get your recovery in and not do too much."
Vancouver is coming off a 3-1 win over Atlanta United FC. It has won four of its last five MLS matches at BC Place. The only game that the Whitecaps didn't win was a 1-0 setback against D.C. United in which they hit the posts and crossbars four times and outshot their opponent 22-7.
Midfielder Christian Bolanos and defender Kendall Waston are nursing injuries as they return from international.
"There's a likelihood both will be missing," Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson said.
Bolanos and Waston, both from Costa Rica, are instrumental players for Vancouver. Bolanos leads the team with four assists, while Waston is coming off a two-goal performance.
FC Dallas and Vancouver have been two of the best defensive teams in MLS because of their center back play. With Waston and FC Dallas center back Walker Zimmerman (MCL sprain) likely sidelined for Saturday's match, it will place more responsibility on the shoulders of Vancouver's Tim Parker and Hedges.
Parker said this week that his team and FC Dallas share an identifiable rivalry.
"We butt heads with their players and maybe our coaches don't get along the best," Parker said. "But it creates a rivalry that's good because we're both young teams fighting for that young identity in MLS."
Hedges played a full 90 minutes in FC Dallas' win over Tulsa. He and FC Dallas became accustomed to that kind of grind when it captured the U.S. Open Cup championship last year.
"We're used to it," Hedges said. "You have to get used to it in this league. It happens every year. It's not too bad. But the travel kind of (stinks)."