Los Angeles FC won't have newly acquired international stars Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini in the lineup Saturday night at the Vancouver Whitecaps. They won't be eligible until next week's "El Trafico" against the crosstown rival Galaxy.
But LAFC will have goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. A Canadian international, Crepeau will make his return to Vancouver, where he played from 2019-21.
Whitecaps striker Lucas Cavallini said he's already been exchanging barbs with Crepeau regarding the upcoming matchup.
"It's always good to play against friends. That being said, eventually I want to score against him," Cavallini told the Vancouver Sun. "It's not easy, but I just have to find the ball in the back of the net. And I'm just worrying about the team's performance and getting those three points."
It won't be an easy task for the Whitecaps (6-8-3, 21 points) against league-leading LAFC (11-3-3, 36 points). The teams met March 20 in Los Angeles, with the hosts winning 3-1.
"They win almost every game," Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini said. "So we have to think about us and to think of doing a good performance. And I believe if we do a good performance, we have chances to win. ... It's going to be hard but it's not going to be impossible."
The Whitecaps are 8-2-2 in all competitions since the start of May and have lost just once at home this season (4-1-3). They're coming off a 0-0 draw with visiting New England last weekend.
LAFC is unbeaten in its past four matches (3-0-1), including a 3-1 victory Wednesday against visiting FC Dallas as Danny Musovski, Cristian Arango and Kwadwo Opoku scored and Carlos Vela had two assists. Arango has tallied in four consecutive matches.
"At any moment of the game I felt we could score a goal," LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said. "A controlled and mature and excellent performance."
As for the impending arrival of Bale and Chiellini?
"We're already feeling good and to add Bale and Chiellini brings a lot of excitement," Musovski said. "I think it's all going to play out really well and it's going to be a lot of energy and I think a lot of people around the league will be watching our games. Obviously with that comes a lot of expectations but I think we're ready for it."
--Field Level Media