It's the Whitecaps toughest challenge of the season, and we've barely kicked things off for 2014. The Whitecaps will go into California and try to get a win against their overlords, the LA Galaxy tonight. Then next week, the 'Caps will try and do it again next week, when the Galaxy make the trip up to Vancouver.
It's an odd little home and home series so early in the season, but it does give the 'Caps a chance to prove themselves against one of the better teams in the league. So, with days of Galaxy/Whitecaps talk still ahead, we posed three questions to Josie Becker of sister SBNation blog, LAG Confidential.
EIGHTYSIX FOREVER: The galaxy unveiled a new formation against Chivas last week, and according to this article (http://www.mlssoccer.com/
JOSIE BECKER: I wrote my own article on the diamond situation here. I'm not ready to give a better or worse tag to the diamond. In the reading I did it seems globally the diamond has been more of a stopgap formation outside of Argentina where it's the classic look of their sides. I know RSL has used it with continual success, but my concern is it doesn't address LA's issues getting wide.
Clearly if it works the way it did against Chivas, the diamond is the greatest thing ever. Stringing together thirty-three straight passes is nothing to shake a stick out. However, Chivas were putting so many men behind the ball that LA was able to go about their passing unchallenged. I'd be concerned about teams like Seattle that put a lot of pressure on the ball and can send it in from the flanks.
86F: Stefan Ishizaki has been the talk of MLS after his performance against the Goats. At 31 years old, how big of a role is he expected to play for the Galaxy this year?
JB: With Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers both dealing with injuries, Ishi has had to step into the system and make a difference right away. He's great on the ball, and that goal he scored against Chivas showed great field awareness. He got to play the point of the diamond against the Goats, and it really let him play on the same level as Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane who dropped back to work with him.
When LA get back their players who like to hug the touchline, it'll be interesting to see if they find themselves on the outside looking in. Whether as the attacking midfielder or playing as one of the central midfielders, I like what Ishizaki's experience is giving the attack.
86F: The Galaxy have certainly had the 'Caps number throughout the 'Caps brief history in MLS, but Vancouver managed to turn the tide a bit last May with their first ever win against the side. Is this viewed as an actual rivalry now, or do the 'Caps have to start winning some matches consistently against LA to earn that?
JB: Why does every team want to call their series with LA a rivalry? Vancouver is literally an entire country and a national border away from Los Angeles, why would they be a rival? The Whitecaps are a team in the Western Conference and that's the conference in which the Galaxy play. That's about the extent that goes.
Projected Lineup: Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Gargan; Juninho; Husidic, Sarvas; Ishizaki; Keane, Donovan
Prediction? 2-0 Galaxy