D.C. United travel to Canada for the first time this season to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 27, at 7 PM ET. Saturday's meeting is the first of three matches in eight days for the Black-and-Red and an important opportunity to pick up road points to climb in the Eastern Conference standings.
"The Vancouver trip is always a tough one, but in the past we've been able to get something out of these trips," head coach Ben Olsen said. "You have a shot to win games every weekend in this league, and we're looking forward to getting back at it. There's always a chance to fix things."
Last season, United routed the Whitecaps in the sides' only meeting of the season, giving the Black-and-Red their first victory of 2016. The April 9 showdown turned into a scoring frenzy, as United netted four goals and kept Vancouver off the board to secure the impressive 4-0 victory. Luciano Acosta also notched two assists on the day—his first career Major League Soccer assists.
The Whitecaps enter Saturday's matchup following a 2-1 win over Montreal in the first round of their Canadian Championship semifinal series on Tuesday night. Sixteen-year-old Alphonso Davies and Uruguayan Nicolás Mezquida scored in the victory, but Fredy Montero, Cristian Techera, and Christian Bolaños have been the attack's primary incendiaries for Vancouver so far this season. Montero and Techera have combined for seven goals and two assists on the year, while Bolaños has dished three assists in Vancouver's last two matches.
While the Black-and-Red attack has struggled to score as of late, the midfield will be bolstered with Acosta's return this weekend. The Argentine missed last Saturday's match because of a red card, but was previously combining well with his counterparts in the midfield. United also feature versatility up top, as forwards Patrick Mullins, Sébastien Le Toux, and José Ortiz have each picked up considerable playing time on the season.
In the defensive third, Steve Birnbaum and Chris Korb have returned to the starting lineup for the Black-and-Red, bringing additional veteran experience and leadership to the back line. After conceding only one goal in three of their last four matches, the Black-and-Red will look to blank the Whitecaps and pick up their second shutout of the year against a Vancouver side that has been shut out four times.
"[Vancouver and Orlando] aren't going to be easy for us as a team," goalkeeper Bill Hamid said, "but if the preparation is right, we'll be fine."
Saturday's match is the only regular-season meeting between United and Vancouver this year. The Black-and-Red will have a quick turnaround following the match, as they travel to Orlando to face Orlando City on Wednesday night and return home to host the LA Galaxy next Saturday.