The Vancouver Whitecaps will attempt to right the ship a bit when they tangle with Real Salt Lake this weekend, a team four places ahead of the sixth place Whitecaps in the Western Conference.
To gain a little more insight into our enemy, Randal Serr from SBnation sister blog RSL Soapbox dropped by to talk Joao Plata, second place in the West, and where the 'Caps have the advantage in this match.
86Forever: Is Real Salt Lake deserving of its second place seeding right now?
Randal Serr: Barely. Part of me says yes because they came into this season with a new coach and some serious off-season surgeries to two of their forwards, namely Robbie Findley and Devon Sandoval. They came out of the gates and did not lose a game for a very long time and were able to accumulate a lot of points in the face of change and a short-handed lineup.
Part of me says no because the wheels nearly came off after Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman, and Nick Rimando left to national duty. In years past, RSL has been able to hold the fort down when the leaders are away, but this year has not proven to play out that way yet. The other thing hurting the club at the moment is that the forward depth is about two deep at the moment with only one or two strikers truly threatening in front of goal.
86F: Joao Plata seems to have taken a real step forward in production this season. What's he doing better this year?
RS: Most will tell you that Plata came into this season very fit and that he is more comfortable with the club. My opinion is that he is playing with more confidence this year. He is playing like he is the number one option on this team to score goals and it is paying off.
He is happy here and is on a team that has embraced him and has a (cliche as it may be) family culture.
86F: Do you see any lineup match-ups that favor either side?
RS: Real Salt Lake is in a goal-scoring drought in the run of play. They have had a few penalties and set piece goals, but nothing in the run of play lately. And since Vancouver's back line is nothing to sneeze at, they probably have an advantage.
RSL has an advantage with Beckerman in the defensive midfield position. He has returned from the World Cup with a confidence and sharpness that is as high as ever.