The Vancouver Whitecaps are coming off their first win of the season.

It was a well-deserved 2-0 away win over the San Jose Earthquakes. That was their first win of the 2024 MLS Season but unlike last year, it did not take them until June to win on the road in league play. Getting wins on the road, especially for Vancouver, is tough to do but it is rewarding like riding the sandworms on Arakkis. 

But it is another game away from the friendly confines and turf of BC Place. The Whitecaps are heading down to the Lone Star State to take on FC Dallas . It is an early battle for the Wild Wild West and it will be a test to see if the Whitecaps can win on the road.

A look at FC Dallas

FC Dallas is coming off a 2-1 road loss to the New York Red Bulls. Dallas are 1-0-2 to start the season and their only win was on opening day against the Earthquakes by a score of 2-1. Led by captain Paul Arriola and US international Jesus Ferriera, FC Dallas’ games so far have all been 2-1 scorelines. They are determined not to lose three straight.

“It’s huge for us,” said FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez on the upcoming game against Vancouver per Drew Epperly of BigDSoccer.Com. “We know we didn’t get the results we wanted in the last two games. We’ve seen some improvement in the last game, and we want to get back to the winning side and then get the three points that will keep us in a good position in the league.”

The Whitecaps drew 1-1 to FC Dallas at BC Place on March 11 of last year. They met again on May 17 at Toyota Stadium and FC Dallas won that match 2-1. Ferreira scored a brace in that game.

In terms of history, Dallas has the upper hand with a 12-9-8 record. Vancouver’s last win over Dallas was a 2-0 at Toyota Stadium on June 18, 2022. Lucas Cavallini and Deiber Caicedo scored in that game.

FC Dallas is dealing with numerous injuries including midfielder Paxton Pomykal who is out until late April with a knee injury and midfielder who has been out with a torn ACL since their round one defeat to the Seattle Sounders in November. It is still unclear when he will return.

Not taking Dallas lightly

“They are having a lot of injuries…they have to juggle with the availability of players, said Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini to the media at UBC on Thursday. “I have to say that last game against the Red Bulls, they probably didn’t deserve to lose. It’s always hard to travel cross-country and try to win a game away, I think that it’s going to be really hard because they have quality players up top.”

Sartini also noted that FC Dallas still has a good squad and believes his team should be aware of them and not get too ahead of themselves.

“If you see the four guys that play on top, Arriola, (Bernard) Kamungo, Ferriera, and (Peter) Musa, the new strikers, they’re all very good players,” he said. “So it’s not that because they lost two games, we think that they’re not giving us problems. It’s going to be hard and we need top performance in order to get away with points from there.”

No Sam Adekugbe…yet

The Whitecaps are relatively healthy but the only player confirmed to be out is wingback Sam Adekugbe. The Canadian international has been dealing with a knee injury over the past few weeks.

Har Johal of Daily Hive reported that Adekugbe did not train on Thursday and will not play on Saturday. However, he has not suffered a setback.

“He’s very close,” said Sartini on Adekugbe per Canadian Soccer Daily. “After this game, we have a bunch of games at home. In one of these games, Sam will be back and will be part of the team. Today he didn’t train. You have to understand that it wasn’t only the management of the injury, he didn’t do a proper preseason. After very hard training like yesterday, he needs to be managed in terms of load. He will train fully (on Friday.)”

“He’s a very important player for us. We want him to be in the perfect condition possible with the less probability of a setback.”

Keys to the game

The Whitecaps need to continue the defensive shape and structure they had in San Jose. Only this time, they will need to find ways to stop the likes of Arriola and Ferriera as both have been dangerous against the Whitecaps in the past. They need to remain composed when defending.

The substitutions were a huge part of the win in San Jose. Vancouver needs them to get going once they come off the bench again especially if they are trailing or tied.

Brian White and Ryan Gauld led the way last season and so far this season, have been relatively quiet. It’s only been two games but it is obvious that as the season goes on, the Whitecaps need their dynamic duo to fire on all cylinders. They need White and Gauld to lead the way.

Kickoff is at 5:30 pm Pacific and you can watch the game for free on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass.