MLS Soccer - Los Angeles FC v Real Salt Lake

VANCOUVER, B.C – Vancouver Whitecaps FC are back in action on Wednesday night as they host high-flying LAFC at B.C Place. The top team in MLS, brings a 6-0-1 (19 points), record to take on a Vancouver side, 0-4-2 (2-points), that’s still looking for their first win of the season.

The visitors won’t make it easy for a Whitecaps FC squad that has scored five goals this season, and none in the last 189 minutes at home. LAFC’s Carlos Vela, leads MLS with 8 goals, 5 assists, 41 shot attempts, and 16 shots on target. Vela is an early season MVP candidate. As if he weren’t dangerous enough, Diego Rossi has 6 goals to his name.

“LAFC is coming in with some big guns,” Russell Teibert explained. “They know how to score goals and they’ve proved that early on this season. They’ve got one of the hottest player in MLS, if not two. If you want a test, if you want a statement game. This is the game that you want to play.”

How do you put a silencer on a duo that’s caused so many problems for the opposition?

“I think you answered the question yourself,” Teibert laughed. “You put a silencer on it, isn’t that what a silencer is for? You know they’re going to get the ball. You’ve just got to limit the areas where they do get the ball.”

Whitecaps FC skipper, Jon Erice knows exactly the type of quality Vela brings. He remembers a young teenager on loan in La Liga, looking to make an impact during the 2007-08 season. It was many moons ago, but Erice quickly noticed the talent, and skill, Vela had.

“Carlos was a very good guy,” Erice recalled. “He was young when he came to CA Osasuna, on loan from Arsenal. He was a very good guy, and he was also a fantastic player. With Real Sociedad, he was one of the best players in La Liga. We enjoyed him a lot in La Liga.”

“His level now, I think is the best level in his career,” Erice continued. “He’s mature, and he knows what to do all the time, with, and without the ball. He’s so clever in the field, and has such quality. He has improved a lot in the last fourteen years. He was a great player, and now he’s one of the best… maybe in the world.” 

Whitecaps FC Head Coach Marc Dos Santos is still looking for his first MLS win. What a feat it would be to do that against the team he was an assistant coach with last season. Having the inside knowledge that Dos Santos has with LAFC, could make all the difference. If there is a blueprint for LAFC, there’s a good chance Dos Santos has it in his memory bank.

“We know exactly what they’re going to be about,” Dos Santos explained to reporters earlier this week. “We know exactly how we can hurt them, but then we need the execution to come. You can know the places that will hurt them, and the places where they are weak. You need to make sure the first pass that gets into those places is good, and the runs are good.”

“One thing is to know, and the other is execution. We know their strengths and some are very obvious. The pressure that they put is very very high. Players like Carlos and Diego, they have fourteen of the nineteen goals they’ve scored. It tells you right away, that if those two guys are in a hot night, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”

Whether or not Vela, and Rossi light up Whitecaps FC, or Vancouver sends LAFC to their first defeat. It’s going to be a hot atmosphere inside B.C. Place. A restless fan base wants to see wins, and the pressure is mounting.

“You’re putting pressure on us, and we want that pressure,” Teibert admitted. “We know we only have two points, and we know we are going to be better. If we want to make a statement in this league, to you guys, and ourselves. This is the game we need to go out and win.”

“Of course we have pressure,” Erice agreed. “We are professional players, but this is normal in soccer. If you don’t want to feel pressure, maybe you have to do something different.”

LAFC have been playing consistent ninety minute football, and Vancouver hasn’t been able to put that type of effort together. It’s up to Whitecaps FC to show they can compete with the best team in MLS, or it could be a long evening.

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