It's very difficult not to be excited about where the Caps are right now. Emphatic wins over San Jose, Seattle, and RSL have put the team in great stead for a season-defining August. There's the opportunity to translate this fine run of form into some silverware, with the Voyageurs Cup on the line over two legs with the Montreal Impact. Capturing the trophy could be the confidence boost needed in order for Vancouver to remain in the Supporters' Shield race down the stretch.
Perhaps of more significance is what comes attached to victory: a place in the 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League. Qualifying for the continental competition is not only lucrative, but also raises the club's profile in North and Central America. Montreal's run to the final in the 2013/14 edition is testament to the benefits participation can yield. For that reason - and to give supporters bragging rights over their compatriots as the undisputed best in the country - there's a lot at stake in this two-legged affair.
The most prominent topic of discussion regarding the contest surrounds the line-up, as Carl Robinson is blessed with a lot of flexibility regarding his selection. He has improved insight on his options after swapping every starter from the 3-0 beat down on Seattle in MLS play for the Champions League meeting with the Rave Green last week. Some will have impressed the head coach, while others failed to seize their opportunity. We'll learn who falls under which category on Wednesday.
Changes are anticipated again for the midweek fixture, however not to the same extent. Robbo has confirmed that Kendall Waston will start at centre-back due to his suspension for Saturday's match with Sporting KC. Depending on how Sam Adekugbe is feeling, I think we could see Christian Dean alongside the 27-year-old with Tim Parker filling in at right-back. Mati Laba departed the RSL game at the 69th minute mark, so he may play next to Russell Teibert. Pedro Morales looks a safe bet as the #10, while the currently insatiable Marco Bustos looks to be in contention as well.
The Impact boast a record of 3W-3L-1D since July, showing a number of promising signs despite the dropped points. Frank Klopas and his side claimed the spoils when the Blue and White traveled to Quebec in the regular season thanks to a late Ignacio Piatti winner. It was a disappointing outcome for the Caps, and one that the guys will be determined to rectify when they take the field at Stade Saputo. Hopefully the visitors can continue to excel on the road, having been galvanized by their exploits away from home.
New arrival Didier Drogba will not take part on Wednesday, however Justin Mapp might get some minutes. He has been recovering on the sidelines since March 7, sustaining a shoulder injury in the opener. Mapp is the back-to-back winner of the tournament's MVP award, representing a useful option to his coach with that experience in mind. Captain Patrice Bernier has resolved his differences with Montreal and has also returned to training this week, afforded a few days off to contemplate his future in the wake of the controversy caused by his wife's comments about his treatment.
Predicted Whitecaps starting line-up: Tornaghi; Parker, Waston, Dean, Adekugbe; Laba, Teibert; Bustos, Morales, Froese; Mattocks
Predicted scoreline: Montreal Impact 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps