The Whitecaps will take on Real Salt Lake this weekend, in what will be their final home match at BC Place until July 12th, so you know the boys will be looking to give the fans something to smile about. They take on a dangerous, yet inconsistent Real Salt Lake squad that currently sits outside the playoff picture, but is well in the hunt.
We caught up with Randall Serr of our sister SBNation site RSL Soapbox to talk about that inconsistency, any pleasant roster surprises, and the best strategy the Whitecaps could employ.
86Forever: Does RSL deserve it's 4-4-5 record?
Randall Serr: At this point, they certainly don't deserve much more. It's a fascinating thing because it really feels like a helterskelter start to the season with the team still trying to find its identity. RSL used to be known for their diamond formation and for their determination to possess the ball and attack methodically. They experienced as much change as they ever have in the off season and are still adjusting to each other's style of play.
But the biggest problem for me has been injuries. Javier Morales has missed a handful of games, Sebastian Jaime, their newest DP, has missed more than a handful of games. Chris Schuler, RSL's best defender in my opinion, had surgery and will mist a total of about 6 to 8 weeks. And Joao Plata is just coming back from an injury that he got on the first day of training. So things are starting to come together but it feels like it is sputtering along.
86F: How do you beat RSL?
RS: It used to be that you had a good chance to beat RSL by sitting back and countering, but that is not necessarily the case any more. Now, it seems like if you have a lot of speed and quality up front, RSL can get a bit disorganized. Another strategy would be to shut down Javier Morales, which is no easy task because he is so good at adjusting on the fly and creating something out of nothing.
Thus far in the season RSL has tended to shoot themselves in the foot, so another strategy would be to force them to make mental mistakes. They have conceded the most PKs this season so that is a weakness to be sure.
86F: Who's been a pleasant surprise on the RSL roster?
RS: Elias Vasquez has been the biggest surprise for me. He replaced Carlos Salcedo after his controversial exit after RSL's disappointing postseason exit. Vasquez is a very young player that is confident and composed but plays tough and is good with the ball at his feet. He is regularly called up to the Guatemalan National Team and after watching him play about five or six games, I can see why.
He has a chance to be a special player. His biggest mistakes so far have been being to aggressive at unnecessary times. For example, not long ago RSL was up 2-0 in Chicago with about 10 minutes left in the game and Vasquez made a silly tackle in the box resulting in a penalty. RSL was positioned well and there was no need to take that risk. He conceded another penalty the following game for something silly as well. These are normal rookie mistakes that he will correct and will eventually be a great player for RSL, hopefully for years to come.