The Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t have the most successful stretch on the road, but a return to BC Place gives them plenty of confidence.
Even if leading goal scorer Kenny Miller could miss a second straight match.
The Whitecaps go for a franchise-record third straight home win on Saturday when road-weary Real Salt Lake tries to end a lengthy scoring drought as the visitor.
After opening the season with home wins over Toronto and Columbus, Vancouver (2-2-1) managed just one point in a three-game road stretch. That came last Saturday when Corey Hertzog’s first MLS goal forged a 1-all draw versus San Jose.
The Whitecaps are winless in their last 13 MLS road games, but they’re 10-3-6 at home since the start of 2012.
“Now we want to build on the last home game, which was one of our best performances against Columbus Crew (a 2-1 win on March 9), and we really want to take it to Salt Lake,” coach Martin Rennie told the Whitecaps’ official website.
Miller, the team leader with two goals, could help with that, but the striker is nursing a hamstring injury and is questionable as the Utah side makes its third visit to Vancouver. RSL has lost both of those previous contests, most recently 2-1 on Aug. 11.
Nat Borchers’ stoppage-time score didn’t change much but the final margin, but it was Salt Lake’s first road goal in four games.
Coach Jason Kreis’ club is in a similar position after suffering a third consecutive road shutout loss, 1-0 to Colorado last Saturday that extended its road goalless streak to 275 minutes. RSL (2-3-1) had a perfect opportunity to end that spell - and net its first goal away from home since Alvaro Saborio scored twice in a 2-0 season-opening win over the Earthquakes - but the Costa Rican striker had his first-half penalty kick turned away.
“It’s football. It happens,” he said.
True, but Kreis can’t recall opening a season with five road games so quickly.
“It’s been difficult, no doubt about it,” he told the club’s official website of the road-heavy schedule. “… I don’t want to make that as any type of excuse. I think there were points that we left on the table through the first six games, but it is what it is. I think we just have to be focused on being better in our next one.”
RSL could be without forward Robbie Findley (left adductor strain) and midfielder Cole Grossman (concussion), but star midfielder Javier Morales might be ready to start for the first time this season after appearing as a second-half substitute the last two games following right knee surgery.
“I’m pretty close,” said Morales, the franchise leader with 47 assists. “The only problem with the next game is it is on turf. So I don’t know if it is going to be good for my knee or not.”
RSL hasn’t lost four straight on the road since its last visit to Vancouver.