Saturday's match (7:30pm TSN, TEAM 1410) marks the final meeting of the year between the Vancouver Whitecaps (W7-L4-D11) and Chivas USA (W6-L11-D5). With the search still ongoing for a new owner for the Goats, it could also be the very last time that the Caps will ever play Chivas in their current form.
So, what have we seen from the Whitecaps in the past couple of weeks? Firstly, we saw the Caps travel out to the Windy City after a very short two-day turnaround and watch them struggle to bring home a single point after a thoroughly uninspired outing against the Chicago Fire. Then juxtapose that against the dominating performance we saw at home last weekend against Eastern Conference frontrunners, Sporting Kansas City, and it's a night-and-day comparison between the two matches. The Caps, who had times looked like they weren't quite up to par in the Fire match, clearly benefited from the rest afforded to them during the MLS All-Star Game break and were clearly the superior team in the match against the Sporks.
But before we go any further, I must pause for a moment and take a breath. Beating Sporting was a great result, and could very well kick start a sustained, and hopefully, successful run to qualify for the MLS playoffs for only the second time in our brief MLS tenure. What is of concern to me, however, is our record this season when we have faced a "weaker" opponent and have not been able to take full, or even any points away from a match when we were "favored" to win (I'm specifically thinking of the previous two matches against Chivas, Montreal Impact or even the New England Revolution).
On paper this match should go the Whitecaps' way, but the Caps only have an all-time record of W3-L2-D5 against Chivas, and have a record of W1-L2-D2 versus the Goats since 2012. These teams have already met twice this year and after drawing on March 2nd, Chivas then took the advantage in the season series after they defeated Vancouver 3-1 just a few weeks ago. Since that match, however, these two teams have fared quite differently: Vancouver is undefeated in their last five matches, and Chivas have lost their previous four. Interestingly, Chivas have not scored a goal in their last three matches, and 14 of their 21 total goals have come from the always dangerous Erick Torres. Torres is currently mired in a three-game scoring drought and last scored when Chivas was awarded a penalty kick when they played D.C. United on July 20th. This is good news for Vancouver on two fronts: firstly, Torres is Chivas' only legitimate scoring threat, and secondly, if the Caps can indeed keep Torres off the score sheet then not only will they have neutralized said scoring threat, but sports fans everywhere will be spared El Cubo's ghastly robo-dance goal celebration.
It all comes down to this: Chivas have scored the least amount of goals in MLS so far this season (21) and they are also missing a couple of their regular defenders in Carlos Bocanegra and Bobby Burling, who are out due to injury. If the Caps can shut down Torres and take advantage of a patchy defense that has already conceded 36 goals in 2014, then they will put themselves in a very good position to win this match and win back-to-back matches for only the second time this year.
After watching the Whitecaps dominate Sporting Kansas City is it too much to expect that they defeat Chivas? No, it is not. Chivas is a team that, despite recent history, Vancouver should defeat on Saturday. If we see a complete team performance like we did against SKC last week, then the result should go in favor of the Whitecaps.
Predicted score: Chivas USA 1 - 2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Predicted Starting XI: Ousted (GK), Harvey, Leverón, O'Brien, Beitashour, Laba, Koffie, Hurtado, Morales, Fernández, Mattocks
And now it's your turn. If you have something to say and would like to join in the discussion then please leave a comment in the section below.
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