The Vancouver Whitecaps hope to keep their perfect home record alive this week as they play Real Salt Lake. This follows three road games in which they picked up just one point.
It won’t be easy, as they play a very capable Real Salt Lake side, but the ‘Caps have looked full value for their two home wins from as many attempts and will look to maintain that record.
“We’re pleased to be home,” central defender Andy O’Brien told reporters at BC Place on Friday following a training session. “We’ve had a long stint away and we’ll be looking to continue the recent form we’ve had at home. I think I’ve said it before, but if you want to achieve anything within the season, the home record has to be good.
“We haven’t picked up as many points as we would have liked to have done away from home, so it puts a bit more emphasis on the home games.”
The Whitecaps, remarkably, haven’t played at home in five weeks, and the temptation will be to come out flying from the first whistle to play for an eager partisan crowd.
However, O’Brien cautioned against the side putting too much energy into the opening phase of the game and conceded that while a strong start is important, pacing the play over 90 minutes could be one of this game’s biggest challenges.
“We appreciate the support and we’ve got to give them something to cheer about and we’ll be looking to do that,” O’Brien said of the club’s fans. “But it’s over 90 minutes and it’s not won over a five-minute spell.”
Who will play up front should also be interesting, as Corey Hertzog usurped Darren Mattocks to play in the lone striker role last weekend, scoring the equalizer in that 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Hertzog appeared as if he could be a doubt for this match due to strep throat, but seems to have recovered and says he’s capable of playing 90 minutes if asked.
Still, with Mattocks’ speed should Vancouver counter-attack Rennie could go back to the Jamaican despite Hertzog’s goal.
Kenny Miller could also return to the lineup as he deals with a hamstring injury, but Rennie said on Friday his countryman is a “game time decision.”
“We’ll see,” Rennie said of his designated player. “He seems to have made pretty good progress. We’ve just got to be careful because we don’t want to push it too far, but he seems to be doing pretty well.”