There will be plenty of intensity on the field Saturday night at Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium, even if the Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Cincinnati are toward the bottom of the standings in their respective conferences.
Expansion FC Cincinnati are represented by a number of former Whitecaps players and coaches, including captain and defender Kendall Watson. A meeting with Vancouver represents just a little more than a chance to get back to winning again after three consecutive defeats.
"I'm just looking forward to the game because we need to win at home and get three points," Watson said, according to MLSsoccer.com. "Obviously, there's some mixed feelings because I have played with a few of their players a lot of years, but it's always nice to face them again."
FC Cincinnati (5-16-2, 17 points) hope to find the form they showed in consecutive victories over the Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire (July 6 and July 13, respectively). Watson helped shut down both opposing offenses in a 3-2 victory over the Dynamo and a 2-1 triumph over the Fire.
Also facing their former club again are FC Cincinnati forward Darren Mattocks, forward Kekuta Manneh and goalkeeper Spencer Richey. Head coach Alan Koch and assistant coach Pa-Modou Kah also have history with the Whitecaps.
Vancouver (4-11-9, 21 points) enters on a nine-game winless streak, having not earned a victory since a 2-1 decision over FC Dallas on May 25. The Whitecaps did deliver a solid defensive game the last time out in a 0-0 tie at Minnesota United FC on July 27.
The offense has been nearly nonexistent of late, though. Vancouver has scored just one goal in its past four games, all since a 6-1 defeat at Los Angeles FC on July 6.
One player sure to be motivated to keep that defensive run going is the Whitecaps' Canadian-born goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who will enter fresh off contract extension through the 2021 season, with an option for 2022.
"He has come up big for us, and he continues to show the commitment that you need to succeed in MLS," Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos said of Crepeau, according to MLSsoccer.com. "This season has allowed us to evaluate how we want to play and identify what we can build on, and this move is one of many that we felt was important to continue reshaping our club."