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I haven't done one of these in a month because I hate them. But I hate everything else about this game so why not keep the trend going?
On the one hand, after the return of David Ferreira sent FC Dallas onto a frightening hot streak. But their last two games have been less intimidating: a 1-1 draw at home to the Seattle Sounders that they played well but didn't win, and a 2-0 away loss to Los Angeles which, again, slightly flattered the Galaxy as the flow of the game was even but LA just had the better finishing.
I hate that because, just recently, the Whitecaps lost their own 2-0 game in Los Angeles where the Galaxy hammered Vancouver, turned them into grape jelly, and left them on the Home Depot Center grass as a warning to others. I wouldn't recommend rewatching the Galaxy - Vancouver game, which was a horror movie. I would recommend watching the Galaxy - Dallas game, as FCD counterpunched pretty well and would feel really annoyed that they missed out on a point.
Yes, Dallas's finishing let them down, but now Blas Perez is back. He didn't even manage to get a goal against Canada during World Cup qualifying, which means he clearly isn't 100%, but he's one big target on a team that lacks natural goalscorers.
Now, this game is not a must-win or even a must-draw for the Whitecaps. Vancouver is four points ahead of Dallas with a game in hand; lose and Vancouver still very much controls their own destiny.
But this is still a hateful game filled with hateful implications.
One thing that worries me is that Martin Rennie seems to be pressing the panic button a little too hard. Scuttlebutt is that Brad Knighton will start in goal tonight ahead of Joe Cannon. I don't mind Knighton and he's played a few good games, including the Los Angeles one, but goalkeeping isn't the reason the Whitecaps have lost four in a row. Cannon's had a good year and is the more proven quantity at the MLS level.
If Knighton and Cannon are equivalent goalkeepers, and they're probably close, maybe bringing in Knighton is a good move just to shake the team up and show them it's serious? But of course Knighton played in Los Angeles and the troops were anything but fired up.
Again, Knighton was fine in that game, but one must be wary about making change for change's sake. If Rennie is playing Knighton because Cannon has a little knock, or because he has reason to believe Knighton is the superior goalkeeper, or even because he thinks they both have the same talent at the end of this year but Knighton will be here in 2013 and Cannon won't... all that is fine. It's also fine if Rennie is running some sort of misdirection play, sending out Cannon to tell the radio stations one thing then doing another. Rennie has recently closed Whitecaps practices on account of the Vancouver media giving away his tactics; it would be a good time for a little hocus-pocus.
(I don't seriously think that's what's happening. I think Rennie is nervous and playing Knighton, who he's always been comfortable with, because he thinks that'll win the game. I merely mention the possibility.)
Rennie's certainly trying to play with expectations with the formation. We know Darren Mattocks and Kenny Miller won't start together up top in a 4-4-2, or at least we know Rennie has told us that. That presumably means another lone target man (whichever one of Miller or Mattocks), with wingers around them and Barry Robson in behind. Given the trouble the Whitecaps have had getting the ball through midfield lately, this makes sense; keep as much playmaking talent back as possible so you can at least try to get the ball forward.
Getting a win in Dallas is a tall order, unless the Whitecaps' bad luck and bad play turns around all at once. Even a draw, however, would be a great strike towards shoring up Vancouver's playoff chances. Not just in the standings, but in terms of confidence. Sometimes, a team on a losing streak just needs a cheap one.
I don't say this because of the last Dallas win at BC Place, by the way. That was a good win for Dallas, but Vancouver's lineup was at a fraction of full strength. Everything was against the Whitecaps in that game and it wasn't representative of anything. I say that because Dallas is basically a good team which enjoys a strong homefield advantage, not least from referees who buy their simulation, and will certainly be motivated playing the most important game of their season.
Oh, yes. One more thing. FUCK YOU DALLAS!