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Whitecaps FC-Chivas USA Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- Last year, the Vancouver Whitecaps followed a season-opening victory with a long winless stretch.
They're taking an approach to avoid a similar slump this time, and the schedule may be providing some assistance.
The Whitecaps look to build on an impressive start to 2012 on Saturday night when they visit CD Chivas USA, which has seen its struggles from last season carry into this one.
Vancouver (1-0-0) won its first game in MLS by beating Toronto 4-2 on March 19, 2011. The Whitecaps, however, followed that by going 14 games without a win (0-6-8), and only won five more times the rest of the way en route to a last-place finish in the Western Conference.
They're wary of history repeating itself after opening this season with a 2-0 win over expansion Montreal last Saturday.
"I can't say enough (about the team's performance)," goalkeeper Joe Cannon told the team's official website. "It was good to see, but we have to keep it in perspective. Last year, with what happened - I think we all thought we were going straight to the cup after our first win. This year it's a lot different.
"We know this is just about building brick by brick - this is just a small part of what we have to do."
Part of the change in attitude could stem from the approach of first-year coach Martin Rennie.
"We've got a lot of work to do and we know that," Rennie said. "We're willing to put the effort in."
The Whitecaps might be in position to go on a roll since their next three opponents all lost their season openers, and the first two in that span didn't make last year's playoffs.
Chivas (0-1-0) began its season by struggling to generate much offense Sunday, getting two shots on goal before allowing the decisive tally three minutes into stoppage time of a 1-0 home loss to Houston. The club is on a 1-4-7 stretch dating to last season, and 0-3-1 since beating Toronto 3-0 on Sept. 24.
"We have 33 more games to prove ourselves, and we're going take them one at a time starting with Saturday," said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who made eight saves versus the Dynamo.
He's likely to be busy again since the Whitecaps boast an array of attacking talent in forwards Sebastien Le Toux, Eric Hassli and Camilo Sanvezzo along with midfielder Davide Chiumiento.
Le Toux and Camilo found the net last weekend, while Hassli and Chiumiento notched assists. Le Toux's tally came after just four minutes of play in his Vancouver debut after being acquired from Philadelphia in an offseason trade.
He had 26 goals and 20 assists over two seasons with the Union, but he has just one goal with two assists in seven career meetings with Chivas.
Vancouver tied Chivas in both matchups last season, including a 1-1 draw at The Home Depot Center on June 1.
Chivas USA could use some production from Juan Pablo Angel, who only managed to get one of his four shots on target last weekend. The forward hasn't scored in three MLS games after netting seven goals in his first seven games after being acquired in a trade from Los Angeles.
Updated March 16, 2012