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MLS Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps at Sporting Kansas City

Jul 3, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT

San Jose Earthquakes v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images
  • Vancouver is 2-1-2 on the road recently
  • Sporting KC is a fairly average 4-3-2 at home, and also fell at Sporting Park recently in the U.S. Open Cup
  • Kei Kamara has three goals in SKC’s last two matches

There was a time when a Vancouver road trip was just another loss waiting to happen.

Martin Rennie’s team was 0-4-1 away from BC Place earlier this year. Stack that one top of last year’s 1-9-3 road mark after an bit of early success away from Western Canada in 2012 and it becomes clear that something was wrong with the strategic and / or tactical approaches when traveling.

But things have changed lately, and significantly so.

The sample is still a bit small, but the Whitecaps are beginning to stack up some points on the road, now 2-1-2 in recent matches away from their artificially turfed downtown ground. Just in June, the Whitecaps posted wins at D.C. United (four days ago) and at New York.

All that said, the Caps will be without some important pieces for tonight’s 9 p.m. ET kickoff. (The official league preview is here.) Gold Cup duty has scooped up Canadian international Russell Teibert (along with Carlyle Mitchell), and Vancouver will surely miss the man who has been instrumental in driving the attack from his right side.

Teibert has six assists in his last five games, putting him just one behind SKC’s Graham Zusi’s seven for the league lead.

At center back Brad Rusin is expected to replace the Trinidadian international Mitchell.

“Obviously Russell and Carlyle have done very well in the last few games,” Rennie said earlier this week. “It’s … an opportunity for someone else to come in and they have to step up when they get that opportunity.”

Zusi was back on the field after his own spell of international activity, once again in place at Sporting Park to help arrange goals for Kei Kamara (pictured, on the left), who has three goals in the team’s last two matches. Two real beauties came in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Columbus.

None of that is good news for a Whitecaps back line that is already without its three top men. Andy O’Brien’s recent injury added stress to a defense without Jay DeMerit (gone for the season.) And Y.P. Lee is being rested for this one, which means veteran EPL midfielder Nigel Reo Coker will likely be stationed at right back once again.

OTHER NOTES: The game also features two league scoring leaders in Vancouver’s Camilo (nine goals) and SKC’s Claudio Bieler (eight). Camilo had six goals and two assists in June. … Vancouver’s Kenny Miller has finally become productive with five goals in seven matches lately.