Colorado Rapids striker Vicente Sanchez is going to be a marked man this weekend.
The problem is that Sanchez is not necessarily who the Vancouver Whitecaps have to worry about.
The visiting Rapids have scored all five of their goals from the penalty spot and they will look to hand the Whitecaps their first loss Saturday.
"They're technically gifted players and he's one of them," Vancouver defender Andy O'Brien said. "Predominantly left-footed but he can use his right as well so he's not going to be easy to play against."
Sanchez, however, has drawn only one of the five penalties for Colorado (1-1-1) with Deshorn Brown converting the other one. Coach Pablo Mastroeni isn't worried that his team has yet to score from open play.
"If we score 100 goals on PKs, I will take 100 goals on PKs," Mastroeni said. "You know, I think the most important part about attacking soccer is putting yourself in situations where you can score goals.
"Now if we weren't finding ourselves in front of goal, I think that would be a concern. But how the ball goes across the goal is irrelevant to me."
The Whitecaps (2-0-2) aren't known for fouling with 47 on the season, but they are wary of what they are up against.
"Give them credit," Vancouver forward Darren Mattocks said. "Obviously they are doing stuff into the box to draw PKs. All goals count, whether it is from open play or PKs so we've just got to make sure we are aware of not giving up easy fouls."
Vancouver has captured both of its home games, winning 4-1 over New York in its March 8 opener and 2-1 over Houston last Saturday behind goals from Jordan Harvey and Kenny Miller.
The Whitecaps feel their fan base has grown as the club has improved in its fourth season in MLS.
"They're very important to us and it's important they get behind us from the first whistle and we've done that in the first two home games," coach Carl Robinson said. "We must make sure we continue that."
Colorado is 0-2-1 in its last three trips to Vancouver and comes to town without suspended defender Marvell Wynne, sent off in last Saturday's 3-2 loss at Sporting Kansas City. The Rapids blew a 2-1 lead over the final 11 minutes, allowing the winning goal in stoppage time.
"From a concentration side and from a defensive side and a couple lapses, I think we're on the same page moving forward and we're looking to better those moments and do well with that," Mastroeni said.
Mastroeni could be without injured defenders Chris Klute and Marc Burch. Austrian defender Thomas Piermayr may make his debut after he was signed Wednesday.
Vancouver is hoping midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker can return after missing last weekend's match with a concussion.
- Sports & Recreation
- Colorado Rapids
- Vicente Sanchez
- Pablo Mastroeni