After two games on the road, the Vancouver Whitecaps are back at BC Place where they will host FC Dallas on Saturday at 4 p.m. PST.
The game on Saturday will be a special occasion as the Caps have dedicated it to celebrate their seventh annual Pride Match. As part of the Pride Match, the Whitecaps will wear special Pride-crested jerseys on the field, while there will also be custom corner flags on the pitch.
Everyone is welcome 💙
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) May 23, 2019
For the first time, there will be multi-coloured nets in honour of the evening’s celebrations. This year, however, the occasion will be under the light of the ongoing controversy involving 14 women and allegations of sexual misconduct conduct by a former Whitecaps women’s team coach back in 2008.
As a result, the two biggest Whitecaps supporters groups — Curva Collective and Southsiders — have walked out in the last four matches. On Saturday, however, there will be no walkout.
Instead, the supporters will provide special cheers and chants on the 35th minute. “Sexual abuse, harassment, bullying and discrimination have no place in our club,” a statement on the Southsiders official homepage said. “We have been doing this through walkouts at the 35th minute, but now it’s time for something different,” it added.
The time of walkouts, for now, is over, which should also improve the atmosphere at BC Place. That, in turn, should aid a Whitecaps side returning from what has been a difficult trip.
Draws against Sporting Kansas City (1-1) and New York Red Bulls (2-2) earned the Whitecaps two important points. But the travel has taken its toll.
“I am learning about MLS,” manager Marc Dos Santos said after the game against the Red Bulls on Wednesday. “In USL and NASL there were more breaks. It has been aggressive, and I am learning about [the schedule], depth in the roster, making sure other players are options.”
The Whitecaps lost key players such as Doneil Henry and Jon Erice down the stretch. As a result, Dos Santos was forced to make six changes against the New York Red Bulls with Andy Rose and Derek Cornelius coming into the starting XI.
That rotation will continue on Saturday. With Yordy Reyna and Erice possibly returning, Dos Santos will have some additional options in attack and midfield.
In fact, Hwang In-Beom could be sitting this one out. “Look, since March of 2018 to now, he’s been close to 60 games,” Dos Santos said. “In the middle of that travel, Asian Cup, dealing a new contract, a new club, friendlies, adapting to a new culture.
“On top of that, In-Beom will be involved when South Korea plays Australia on June 7 and Iran on June 11. While the guys after the Toronto game are going to have four days off, In-Beom will take a plane to play with his national team — so he doesn’t have a break.”
In the meantime, sixth-place FC Dallas (5-5-3, 18 points) occupy a much-coveted playoff spot. While Dallas had a strong start to the season winning five out of their first eight games — drawing two and losing just once — it has not won a game in five matches.
As a result, Dallas has been tumbling down the standings, making this an opportune time for the Whitecaps to face the Texas-based side. In fact, while the Whitecaps can be happy about their two points on the road against some of the best Major League Soccer has to offer, they have to improve their home record to become playoff contenders.
Going into Saturday’s game, the Caps are 2-3-2 (14 points). As the great Ukrainian coach Valery Lobanovskyi once pointed out, the key to a successful season is to win your home games and at least draw on the road. The Caps have gotten that second part right last week but now need to do their homework at BC Place.