After a tough-to-swallow last minute loss to DC United, the LA Galaxy are headed north to face an even tougher opponent: the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Whitecaps’ sterling record and penchant for scoring stoppage-time game winners certainly looks like a recipe for disaster. But the Galaxy will be welcoming back Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Keane, as both starting strikers are returning from stints with their respective national teams. For Los Angeles, who just couldn’t seem to find a goal from numerous chances last weekend, reinforcements can’t come soon enough.

The Whitecaps’ penchant for scoring stoppage-time game winners looks like a recipe for disaster.

On the Vancouver end, there’s two names to keep an eye on — one familiar, one new to the league. Octavio Rivero is the fresh face. The Chilean designated player has scored three goals in as many games, including a 96th minute heartbreaker off a set piece against Orlando last week. And on the other end of that set piece, with the assist, was a familiar name. Pedro Morales continues to be a key playmaker for the Whitecaps, and a handful for any team’s midfield.

An LA Galaxy player once described the parking lot outside StubHub Center as “better than Vancouver’s field.” He was joking (I think) but the joke only underscores a strange truth: LA’s record when playing away is dismal. The Galaxy haven’t won on the road since last summer, even if they did win an MLS Cup in there.

With the starting squad back at full force, Saturday’s bout is a chance for the returning champions to prove they’re still top dog in a Western Conference that’s stronger than ever.

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