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Mar 22, 2024 8:19 pm

Damir Kreilach, Vancouver set for duel with Real Salt Lake

damir kreilach

After garnering seven points in their first three matches, the Vancouver Whitecaps will be seeking the best four-game start in the team’s MLS history when they host Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.

The Whitecaps (2-0-1, 7 points), tied with the Portland Timbers for second place in the Western Conference and three points behind Minnesota United (3-0-1, 10 points), are off to their best start since 2012 and play their next four games at home.

Vancouver opened the season with a 1-1 draw at home against Charlotte FC and followed that with back-to-back road wins at San Jose (2-0) and FC Dallas (3-1).

The contest with Real Salt Lake (1-2-1, 4 points) will mark the first time that midfielder Damir Kreilach will face his former team. Kreilach scored 47 goals in six seasons for RSL and was captain for the final two years.

“Emotions are pretty high, and I think overall that’s pretty normal,” Kreilach said. “It’s part of what I love doing the most and that’s playing football.”

Salt Lake enters the contest in a three-way tie for eighth place in the West and has had two weeks to prepare since dropping a 2-1 decision to the visiting Colorado Rapids on March 9 in Sandy, Utah.

Emeka Eneli scored on a left-footed shot in the 22nd minute to give RSL the early lead in that contest but Colorado rallied to tie it in the 43rd minute on a penalty kick by Rafael Navarro.

Cole Bassett scored what proved to be the game winner in the 70th minute on a right-footed shot in the middle of the box.

“Structurally, I thought we were poor in the second half,” RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni told KSL Sports. “In the second half, we tried to solve the scoreboard by playing as individuals, and oftentimes our shape was less than ideal.”

Mastroeni said having extra time to prepare should benefit his club heading to Vancouver.

“For us, it’s really about taking what we worked on these two weeks and going in there with the mentality that we’re a great team and we can win games in difficult places as we did last year,” he said. “That will really be the focus for us.”

–Field Level Media

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