Whitecaps FC-Real Salt Lake Preview
Marc Dos Santos has the backing of the Vancouver Whitecaps hierarchy for now, but the pressure is on the head coach to turn fortunes around, starting with Friday's clash with Real Salt Lake.
Dos Santos took over at Vancouver in 2018 but his tenure has not resulted in any playoff finishes and his side have hardly ever offered much in the way of attacking threat.
With seven points from as many games this season, Vancouver - who have been based in Utah due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic - sit 11th in the Eastern Conference, though a win would take them above eighth-placed Salt Lake.
Dos Santos still has the belief of those above him at the club, though sporting director Axel Schuster acknowledged the pressure is on the coach to start delivering.
"We have not taken any decision, and we didn't see a reason to do that. I expect him to finish the season," Schuster said, as reported by The Province.
"I have to expect that [he will]. Otherwise, we would have done something before the break, when somebody else could have come in."
Vancouver will go up against a Salt Lake team featuring David Ochoa, who has spent the best part of the last month on duty with the United States for the first time.
"I definitely feel more confident in my game," said Ochoa, who is yet to make his international debut. "I definitely learned a lot while I was gone. I got to learn the good and even the bad from the 'keepers.
"It was such a high level, even higher than here, so I come back more confident and a little more alert. I feel like I read the game a little quicker now. It definitely helped me a lot, and I'll try to show that this week versus Vancouver on Friday."
Real Salt Lake - David Ochoa
In his five appearances so far this term, 20-year-old Ochoa has conceded just six goals, and though his hot-headed approach sometimes threatens to boil over, the talent is obviously there to be refined.
Vancouver Whitecaps - Cristian Dajome
Cristian Dajome leads the way for Vancouver this season with three goals from seven appearances, already matching his total from last year's MLS campaign, in which he played 24 times.
- The Whitecaps are the only MLS team without a goal in the first half this season. They have scored three times in the first 15 minutes of the second half this season, only Sporting Kansas City (five) has scored more during that quarter-hour of matches.
- Damir Kreilach has been directly involved in six of Real Salt Lake's last seven goals, scoring three times (including the team's last two goals) and assisted three others.
- The Whitecaps have lost four of their last five matches, including the last three in a row (W1). Vancouver had lost only three of its previous nine matches (W5 D1) prior to losing four of five.
- Salt Lake lost just one of its first six games this season (W2 D3), a 2-1 defeat to San Jose in early May. RSL had lost six of its last eight matches to end last season (W1 D1).
- Vancouver won both meetings with Real Salt Lake last season by 2-1 scorelines. This is only the second winning streak the Whitecaps have ever had against Salt Lake. They won four straight meetings in 2014 and 2015.
Updated June 17, 2021