Two teams heading in opposite directions in the early stages of the 2012 Major League Soccer season will square off at BC Place on Saturday as unbeaten Vancouver Whitecaps FC hosts winless D.C. United.
Vancouver is off to a flying start in 2012 after a rather abysmal debut season in MLS. The Whitecaps are a perfect 2-0-0 and are coming off of a 1-0 defeat of Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center, their first MLS road win.
"It's a big achievement," Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie said. "It's only three points and it's only our first game on the road, but based on the fact the team didn't win on the road last season it did make it a bit more significant than normal."
The 'Caps were lucky to come away with all three points as Chivas controlled the match in large stretches, but Jay DeMerit popped up off a crucial set piece to nod the visitors to victory with his first career MLS goal.
"Ultimately, we came in, just like last week with a game plan and we stuck to it," DeMerit said after the match. "Sometimes on the road you have to defend well as a team and score on set pieces, and thankfully we were able to do that."
Joe Cannon also spoke to the influence that last weekend's win can have on the squad.
"I think it's a stepping stone for our confidence, you can see even [Saturday] on the road we looked almost like a different team than at home," Cannon said. "I think it's really just about creating that belief and that takes time and I think it is coming."
Cannon was substituted in the first half of the defeat of Chivas after he picked up a leg contusion, but is listed as probable for Saturday's tilt against United.
Ben Olsen's men, meanwhile, have not had the same fortune as Rennie's squad two games into the season.
D.C. has had two tough results against last season's Eastern and Western Conference champions to open the new campaign. United fell to Sporting Kansas City at home, 1-0, behind a last-gasp winner from C.J. Sapong before getting thumped by the reigning champion Los Angeles Galaxy, 3-1, at The Home Depot Center.
It is the third time that D.C. has opened an MLS season with back-to-back losses.
"I am disappointed in the group because they are a reflection of me and the organization," Olsen said. "At the minimum the fight has to be there every game in this league."
With Dwayne De Rosario, Hamdi Salihi and Maicon Santos providing a great deal of firepower up front, United's lone goal of the season has come from an unlikely source in rookie Nick DeLeon.
After failing to make Olsen's squad for the home opener, the 21-year-old made the most of a substitute appearance against the reigning champions as he looks to warrant a spot in the lineup against the Whitecaps.
"It just shows his character and the type of player he is," De Rosario said of DeLeon. "After not making the 18, he had a great week. He worked hard and once he got minutes he made the most of them. That was a great finish."