Scouting report: Analyzing what to expect from a feisty Vancouver side Saturday at BC Place
This should be a good one.
Philadelphia Union: eight wins, six losses, seven draws, 31 points
Vancouver Whitecaps: nine wins, six losses, five draws, 32 points
The Whitecaps get home-field advantage this year, a critical parameter considering the fact that they are unbeaten at BC Place this entire season. Vancouver's 23 home goals are more than any other team in the league. They are 7-0-3 at home in league play with an additional home win and draw in the Canadian Championship.
Simply put, they're hard to beat in British Columbia.
Philadelphia is 1-1-1 all-time against Martin Rennie's team. There have been just two goals scored in those three games combined, with last year's scoreless draw at PPL Park following 1-0 home wins for each team in 2011.
Vancouver's offense is its strength. They're tied for first place in the league with 33 goals scored.
That's due in no small part to red-hot striker Camilo, who now leads the Golden Boot race with 13 goals through 1,319 minutes.
He'll usually line up at right forward in Rennie's 4-3-3 formation, along with Scottish veteran Kenny Miller and young Canadian international Russell Teibert.
Miller is enjoying a good run of form. He's got six goals this year and recently signed a six-month contract extension which shoots down persistent rumors of a return to Europe.
Teibert is coming along as a playmaker and "do-everything" forward. The 20 year old has two goals of his own and leads the team with seven assists.
Vancouver might have the best forward depth in MLS. Darren Mattocks is a guy who would start on most teams, yet he's found a role in 2013 as a second-half substitute. He's got three goals and one assist in 623 minutes. Penn State product Corey Hertzog and Kekutah Manneh have combined for three goals and two assists, and Tommy Heinemann even has seven appearances off the bench.
As far as the midfield, Rennie seems set on the trio of Nigel Reo-Coker, Jun-Marques Davidson, and Gershon Koffie.
Reo-Coker was a great signing for the 'Caps. Just 29-years-old, the former West Ham and Aston Villa captain essentially plays a box-to-box role. He's not a goal scorer or assist provider, but he does a lot of legwork on both sides of the field and covers ground in a similar fashion to an Osvaldo Alonso or Kyle Beckerman.
Davidson is your prototypical holding midfielder, while Koffie will do a little bit on both ends.
There's good depth here too, with guys like Daigo Kobayashi and Matt Watson playing significant roles in the midfield in 2013.
There's a pair of former Union players who are now solidified on the Vancouver backline.
Jordan Harvey won the starting job at left back and Brad Knighton has split the season in goal with Joe Cannon. Both have been playing at a high level. Knighton is 6-2-2 in his ten total starts and Harvey has three goals and one assist in a little more than 912 minutes.
At right back, you'll see South Korean veteran Y.P. Lee. He's a crafty player who gets forward and puts balls into the box. Reo-Coker serves as his backup when he's unable to play.
Center back has been the only real issue for Vancouver this year. Brad Rusin and Johnny Leveron have done well in recent games, but they weren't the first choice pair coming into the season. Captain Jay Demerit tore his Achilles in the first game of the season and Andy O'Brien is recovering from a hamstring strain. As it stands, Greg Klazura is the first defensive option off the bench.
Vancouver also added veteran GK David Ousted, who is expected to compete for the starting job.
Possible Starting XI: Knighton (GK), Harvey, Leveron, Rusin, Y.P. Lee, Reo-Coker, Davidson, Koffie, Camilo, Miller, Teibert
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org