MADRID, Spain (AP) – Tom Soehn spent six seasons working for D.C. United, including three years as head coach from 2007-09. He admits that this road trip will be an emotional one.
The Vancouver Whitecaps coach returns to face United on Saturday night after his team turned in perhaps its best performance in its last contest.
Soehn was an assistant with D.C. (6-6-9) from 2004-06 before taking over as head coach the next three seasons, leading United to one playoff berth before he was let go.
"I think it will be a bit strange because I'm used to going into the home locker room at RFK," he told the Whitecaps' official website. "This time around, I'll be going into a different locker room."
Soehn's assistant at D.C., Chad Ashton, will be coaching United. D.C. head coach Ben Olsen is suspended after being sent off during last Saturday's 3-all tie with Toronto FC.
Ashton played with Soehn on a number of different teams, and is looking forward to coaching against his friend.
"It'll be a little awkward," Ashton told United's official website. "We were teammates for a long time, and we're both competitive. It doesn't matter if we're playing checkers or coaching against one another, we always want to win."
This matchup features in-form strikers for both teams.
Eric Hassli had two goals and an assist for Vancouver (3-11-9) in a 4-2 victory over Chicago on Sunday. Hassli is third in MLS with 10 goals.
"I haven't seen anybody do that to Chicago all year," Ashton said. "When (Vancouver) has their top 11 or 12 guys out there, they're a tough team."
Dwayne DeRosario has five goals in two games after registering a hat trick against Toronto. The Canadian forward is fourth in the league with nine goals.
"I just feel like I'm really hitting my stride right now," DeRosario said. "I'm obviously getting comfortable with the group of guys."
Although D.C. has yet to face Vancouver, DeRosario has already played the expansion Whitecaps once with Toronto and once with New York.
"To be honest, I think Vancouver is a very good team," DeRosario said. "I just think they are not having the bounces go their way right now."
Vancouver has a league-low 18 points, and enters with an 0-8-4 road mark. D.C., meanwhile, is just 2-3-6 at home, but is not far off the pace for a playoff spot.
"We've got to take care of business at home," United defender Dejan Jakovic said. "It's crucial - the standings in the East are so close."
The Whitecaps could receive a boost since injured captain Jay DeMerit has been training this week after not playing in a match since June 25. His return would be pivotal to helping slow down DeRosario.
"He's just a threat when he gets in around the goal so we'll need to know where he is at all times," said Vancouver midfielder John Thorrington about DeRosario. "It's not a secret. He's been doing it for years."
D.C. is without suspended goalkeeper Bill Hamid, and Steve Cronin could start in his place.