Match preview: Union hungry to leave Vancouver with three points

Preview of tonight's showdown at BC Place (7 p.m., TCN)

Vancouver preview image

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

Philadelphia Union at Vancouver Whitecaps

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.; Where: BC Place, Vancouver, British Columbia

TV: The Comcast Network with play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Alejandro Moreno

Radio: None; Online: Streaming webcast on MLSSoccer.com/live; Social: Follow via Twitter: @TheUMatchday

Referee(s): Baldomero Toledo (main), Frank Anderson, Mike Rottersman, Alejandro Mariscal (fourth)

All-time (three meetings): Vancouver: one win (one goal); Union: one win (one goal): Ties: 1

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Winning on the road against a tough opponent such as Vancouver is daunting enough.

Accomplishing the feat without forward Conor Casey just makes the challenge even tougher.

The Philadelphia Union (8-6-7, 31 points) will attempt to upend the Whitecaps Saturday night at BC Place without Casey and his seven goals because of yellow card accumulation.

But leading goal scorer Jack McInerney (10 goals) recently returned from U.S. Gold Cup duty, so that should help ease the burden on offense.

McInerney’s timing is perfect.

“Being without Casey will be tough because we truly established the way we play with what he gives us,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “This gives us some tactical options to try and figure out how we’ll match up with Vancouver. Losing Conor is a tough one, but it’s an opportunity to get some other guys on the field.”

Even though McInerney has gone four straight matches without a goal, there have been opportunities. There will continue to be opportunities.

“If you’re a goal-scorer in this sport, you’ll go through times when you’re hot and just not getting a goal,” Hackworth said. “That’s normal. I don’t think Jack is having a bad run of games. As long as he continues to play well, that’s important for us. He’s been good in training and finding the back of the net in training. That’s just what he does. We hope he can do it this Saturday."

The Whitecaps are immensely talented in all facets. They’re 9-6-5  (32 points) overall and 7-0-3 at home.

“We’re playing a team in good form and they are undefeated at home,” Hackworth said. “They have great supporting fans and they make it loud. The game itself will be difficult. Add in the fact that we have to travel cross-country with a layover to deal with, and it’s a challenge.”

It will be a major challenge to pick up points against the Whitecaps. No club has won at BC Place this season.

Philadelphia is aiming to be the first.

“In the last month, we’ve lost points for various reasons,” Hackworth said. “Dallas, Salt Lake and Portland last Saturday. Any time you have a game coming up, you say this is an opportunity to pick up points. Playing away is always hard but our team is looking at it like they can compete with the best teams in this league and done pretty well. I don’t think we go into Vancouver afraid of that situation. We know they are a good team and we will have to play an excellent game."

Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton has been excellent for much of this season. The former Union goalkeeper seems to have found a home with the Whitecaps.

“What we know is that Brad is good and we’ll have to make plays to get the ball past him,” Hackworth said. “We hope we give ourselves plenty of opportunities because of the more opportunities we create, the better chance of finishing. That’s our goal."

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com