Setting Things Up
The Vancouver Whitecaps (7-6-13) are in an offensive tailspin right now, goalless in their last four matches. They've slipped to 6th in the Western Conference standings, although they are just one point behind the 5th place Portland Timbers. Now, as they attempt to somehow right the ship, they'll play a mid-week match against the struggling San Jose Earthquakes (6-10-9), who themselves are very hungry for a victory.
The Whitecaps are coming off a scoreless draw with DC United in which they looked much better defensively, but were once again toothless in their scoring ability. Darren Mattocks had a game high five shots on goal, but clearly had trouble with his finish, and that's putting it delicately.
Once a dominant team in the West, the 'Quakes still boast a formidable attack that includes Chris Wondolowski and his 12 goals, however dangerous pieces have been stripped away. Alan Gordon is with the Galaxy now, and Steven Lenhart has only played in 10 matches this season due to injury. The 'Quakes currently occupy 8th in the West, and are eight points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand on Vancouver and two on Portland. Speaking of the Timbers, the 'Quakes did the 'Caps a favor and drew with Portland 3-3 on Sunday. That held the Timbers to just a single point, and beggars can't be choosers, I'll take it.
Who's missing this one?
Steve Beitashour missed the DC United match and Ethen Sampson left early, so the Whitecaps will continue to shuffle bodies on the backline. Erik Hurtado may get another chance in the starting lineup as Darren Mattocks took a 'knock' in the weekend match and may not play. Kekuta Manneh and perhaps even Omar Salgado could also see themselves in the starting lineup instead. Johnny Leveron is still with the Honduran National team and won't play, while Gershon Koffie continues to battle an ankle injury.
You've heard it before, but this is a must win
The Whitecaps are in the home stretch of the regular season, and like previous years have found themselves gasping for air like a fish out of water. Their goal scoring drought couldn't have come at a worse time, and if this club wants to contend for the post-season, it's going to have to be snapped immediately.
The 'Caps need three damn points, not one. Given all the talent on this club, you would think that someone, SOMEONE would just be able to put the ball in the net, but it just hasn't been happening. The season could absolutely slip through their fingers if they don't find some form of offensive swagger, and quickly.
A 'Caps loss puts the Earthquake in a tie for 7th with the Colorado Rapids, just four points back of the Whitecaps. However, a win would put the Whitecaps back in the playoff picture with a slim, two-point lead over the Timbers. It would just be so refreshing to see the 'Caps take advantage of a scenario like this; they're at home, playing a team below them in the standings, so you would hope the odds would be on their side. However, it's not like this modern franchise is exactly known for coming through in the clutch.
Predicted Lineup: Ousted, Adekugbe, O'Brien, Waston, Harvey, Laba, Rosales, Teibert, Morales, Manneh, Fernandez