After a great away victory at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Vancouver Whitecaps are back on the pitch at BC Place Saturday night against DC United (7:30pm start time). The Whitecaps are tops in Major League Soccer so far this season with 16 points (5 wins) from 8 played while DC United is tied for tops in the East with 11 points (3 wins) from 6 played. To-date, DC United have 1 road win (Orlando City) and 1 loss (New York Red Bulls) and will be looking to continue their 4 game unbeaten streak.
Going undefeated against the East last season (4 wins and 6 draws), the Vancouver Whitecaps have begun this season 2-1-1 against the East, with both wins coming on the road. History suggests that the Whitecaps have a good chance of earning their first home victory against the East. After losing the first game between the two teams in 2011, 4-0, The Vancouver Whitecaps have not lost to DC United, winning twice (once at BC Place) and drawing twice.
There are several important storylines to follow in this one.
- Pedro Morales gets back in to the lineup after sitting out the game against Real Salt Lake because of a red card.
- Once seen as a major weak point on the Whitecaps, Carl Robinson has done well to beef-up the talent in midfield. With Morales and Matías Laba almost locks for sports in the starting XI, it is unclear who Robbo will select to fill the remaining two (or three) spots. After returning from injury last week to play important substitution minutes, does Mauro Rosales start? After riding the bench last game, does Kekuta Manneh see the field? Where does Nicolás Mezquida fit in with Morales and Rosales back? Eager to show his talent, does Cristian Techera slot in to the starting XI or does he come in as a second half substitute? Do the Whitecaps go with one defensive midfielder or two? If two, who sits Russell Teibert or Gershon Koffie? What about youngsters Deybi Flores and Kianz Froese? Nevermind seeing meaningful minutes, do either even make the 18 with the glutton of talent available? Remember that striker from last year Eric Hurtado? Where does he fit in?
- Speaking of striker, after the success of playing Darren Mattocks and Octavio Rivero in the last few games, do the Whitecaps keep the two-striker formation or return to their traditional 4-2-3-1? After scoring in 5 of his first 6 games, Rivero has (gasp!) been held scoreless over the past two games. Meanwhile, Mattocks has been the best Whitecap over the last three games and is in top form, after an equally successful spell with the Jamaican national team. Does Mattocks play upfront, on the wing, or sit on the bench? Tough call!
- Finally, Pa Modou Kah has garnered the ire of Whitecaps fans this season for some of his mental lapse (I believe Portland Timbers fans warned us of these), while Tim Parker and Christian Dean looked stellar for the ThunderCaps last weekend and Diego Rodriguez looked poised to challenge Kah for the starting centerback position, prior to injury. With Dean on international duty with the United States U-23, Rodriguez still not 100%, and Kah being named to the MLS Team of the Week, does Parker get his first chance starting or do we see the typical Waston/Kah partnership?
What are your thoughts?
Make sure to check out Spencer.Phinney’s prediction thread in the FanPosts section and chose the starting XI and final score.
See you all Saturday night!