The Vancouver Whitecaps will try and keep their fading playoff hopes alive, when they take on FC Dallas in a must win match. The 'Caps are 1-4-2 in their last 7 matches, an almost unacceptable run in crunch time. While the club had dreams of actually hosting a playoff round just a few weeks ago, now the focus is one thing only; survival.
These two clubs met twice in April, with Dallas winning one and drawing with Vancouver in the other. The Whitecaps lost 2-0 on the road on April 20th, and then tied 2-2 a week later. They got goals from Kekuta Manneh and Camilo in that one, two players that the 'Caps hope can rediscover their form. While Brad Knighton and Joe Cannon both played in those games, David Ousted will presumably get the nod this time around. However, given the recent slide the Whitecaps have been on, don't be surprised if Head Coach Martin Rennie makes a change.
Luck has also been on the side of FC Dallas. In both matches against Vancouver this season, they've gotten on the board thanks to own goals from the 'Caps center backs. In one match, Andy O'Brien was victimized; the other, Brad Rusin.
HELP IS ON THE WAY?
With Jay Demerit's return currently on the horizon, speculation has become rampant that he will suit up for the match. While that may be true, it's hard to imagine Demerit in anything but a substitution role, given how much time has has missed this season. (Well, all of it, give or take 3 minutes) Nonetheless, the 'Caps still have a pretty decent option in Andy O'Brien and Johnny Leveron, although O'Brien has looked very human lately.
While the 'Caps employed the 4-4-2 with Nigel Reo-Coker out, you would have to imagine Rennie will go back to what got the 'Caps the most success this season; the 4-3-3. Reo-Coker and perhaps Matt Watson flank, while Gershon Koffie takes over the defensive mid role. Then, in the absence of Russell Teibert, who's away in international duty, Camilo and Miller can perhaps try to find a spark with whoever Rennie elects to throw out to join them. Who knows? Kekuta Manneh and a somewhat improved Daigo Kobayashi would appear to be the front-runners. However, if Rennie has seen enough of their goalless droughts, he may opt to insert Tom Heinemann for his size and physicality.
FC Dallas is missing a slew of talented players, including Kenny Cooper (suspension) and Blas Perez (international duty), and they may also be without Eric Hassli (back injury), who hasn't had much of an impact for Dallas either way.
Vancouver is relatively healthy, although Russell Teibert and Darren Mattocks (international duty) won't play, and Jay Demerit will most likely be a match-time decision.
Prediction: In must win matches, the 'Caps usually find ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I've been fooled far too many times before, and have resigned myself to the 'Caps fate. However, given the state of FC Dallas' lineup, here's hoping I'm very, very wrong.
1-0 FC Dallas.