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Whitecaps FC-Real Salt Lake Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- After knocking off the league's best team, the Vancouver Whitecaps are brimming with confidence as they get ready to take on another tough opponent.
The Whitecaps go on the road Friday night to face Real Salt Lake, which has not allowed a goal over its last three home games.
Vancouver (9-6-7) won 2-1 on Sunday over San Jose, which leads MLS with 43 points. Two of the Whitecaps' recent additions, Dane Richards and Barry Robson, had the goals.
"These are games you have to take confidence from and take more belief from," defender Jay DeMerit said. "We have another game against a good team in Real Salt Lake on Friday, especially away from home in a tough place to play, but these games are good tests for us in where we stand as a team."
DeMerit logged all 90 minutes in Wednesday's All-Star game so it's unclear if he will play Friday. He was forced to play the entire contest since Sporting Kansas City's Aurelien Collin left after 36 minutes following a collision.
"There are certain things that when you're asked to do them, you do for your teammates and your coaches no matter what the scenario is," DeMerit told the league's official website.
Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman will likely take the field even though he played the final 34 minutes Wednesday, assisting on Eddie Johnson's late winner in the 3-2 victory over Chelsea of the English Premier League.
Salt Lake (12-7-3) was again stingy at home Saturday in a 2-0 victory over Colorado. RSL had been 1-4-1 over its previous six games overall.
"It had been a while and we had been in a rough patch and that was really important for our confidence," coach Jason Kreis said. "But I actually think what's most important of all the things is how we can follow that up this weekend against Vancouver."
Alvaro Saborio had a goal and an assist last weekend, and his 11 goals are third-most in MLS behind San Jose's Chris Wondolowski and New York's Kenny Cooper.
Vancouver kept Wondolowski from scoring Sunday in a game in which its latest acquisition made his debut.
Kenny Miller, signed as a designated player July 16, played the final 12 minutes. The Scottish national team captain is hoping he can play longer Friday.
"It's been a tough week of training but it was good to get some game time under my belt," Miller said.
The Whitecaps are in third place in the Western Conference with 34 points, five fewer than second-place RSL.
"It has been interesting that they've been so quiet up there but they're right behind us now and challenging to move up the table so I'm looking forward to what I think could be a fantastic game Friday night," Kreis said.
Kreis is hoping to get minutes from an injured trio of players all listed as probable - forward Fabian Espindola (ankle), defender Nat Borchers (quad) and midfielder Ned Grabavoy (knee).
These teams have not met since they split two matchups last year with the home clubs posting shutouts.
Updated July 26, 2012