BRITISH COLUMBIA

Whitecaps looking to improve on MLS-best record against D.C. United

04/24/2015 02:09 EDT | Updated 07/23/2015 02:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Whitecaps have a lot to be excited about eight games into their Major League Soccer season.

The club sits atop the overall standings with 16 points heading into the weekend, has the league's leading goal scorer and is coming off a big road victory.

But for all the good feeling, the Whitecaps (5-2-1) know they face another difficult test when D.C. United (3-1-2) visits B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday night.

"It's a tough one," Vancouver assistant coach Gordon Forrest said this week. "They're doing well just now. They're very well organized. They're a hard-working team picking up a lot of points, but at the same time it's a home game for us.

"It's a tough one, but the boys will be well prepared."

While the Whitecaps were all smiles after a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake last weekend — Vancouver's first-ever win at Rio Tinto Stadium — they will meet a United side that is unbeaten in four and has drawn its last two visits to Vancouver by identical 0-0 scorelines.

"It's definitely going to be a test," said Whitecaps defender Sam Adekugbe. "Any team we play in the league is going to be a good team. We have to bring our stuff to the table and hopefully get the result."

D.C. went from league doormat in 2013 to the class of the Eastern Conference in the regular season last year, improving its point total from 16 to 59.

"They were a tough team when they came here (in 2014)," said Whitecaps midfielder Mauro Rosales. "They play a little bit defensively like we do on the road, trying to be compact and not give chances to attack and then go on the counterattack. They're a team that's been doing well. They have quality players."

One of those players is striker Chris Rolfe, who has a goal and two assists through six games

"He's a very good player, technically very good," said Forrest. "He drifts into good areas, good on set plays as well."

Vancouver's attack is led by Octavio Rivero, who leads MLS with five goals, while fellow striker Darren Mattocks has scored in two of the last three games, including last week's winner.

"We're getting to the point where we're trusting our abilities and actually believing that we can do things," said Adekugbe. "I think that's great heading into this weekend as well because it's another tough game and we can get the result."

Notes: Vancouver captain Pedro Morales is eligible to return after a one-game suspension. ... Whitecaps midfielder Cristian Techera could make his debut for the club. The diminutive winger agreed to a loan move earlier this month.

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