In the midst of a tiring schedule that will see them play another two matches next week, the Vancouver Whitecaps will have to make sure their full attention is on their opponent this week, Real Salt Lake. While the club has plenty of weapons on the roster, they currently sit on the wrong side of the playoff bar in 9th place. With the Whitecaps sitting in 1st, it would seem like a mismatch on paper, but given the ultra competitive Western Conference, only 10 points separate the two clubs.
How are they doing?
The Whitecaps are unbeaten in their last four matches, having not lost outright since July 12th against Sporting Kansas City. In that time, they've posted draws with Seattle and Portland, while also topping the Sounders and the San Jose Earthquakes. The Whitecaps have already posted two wins over RSL this season.
RSL, meanwhile, hasn't lost since July 11th, posting four wins and one loss in that time. The loss was a biggie, 6-4 to DC United, but given United currently sit atop the entirety of MLS, it's not as severe a black eye as it might seem.
Who is providing the offence?
The Whitecaps have been getting contributions from a number of different players, as Octavio Rivero continues to sputter atop the Whitecaps formation. Fortunately, unlikely candidates continue to step up to the plate; Against the Sounders on Saturday, it was Center Back Pa Modou Kah scoring the first brace of his MLS career to power the 'Caps to a 3-0 victory. In the CCL match on Wednesday, Tim Parker decided to follow suit, scoring the only 'Caps goal. It's good to have depth, but the Whitecaps need their main man to start scoring on a more frequent basis if they're going to justify his continued presence in the lineup.
Rivero is a hard worker and helps create chances for others, but his primary job needs to be scoring goals, and he isn't doing that right now. Rivero has just two goals in his last six outings, and 3 in his last 17 overall.
Home, Sweet Home?
Can the Whitecaps figure out their home woes? Despite sitting atop the Western Conference with 39 points, the Vancouver Whitecaps have a 5-4-1 record at BC Place, easily the worst of the teams in the Western Conference post-season picture. Seattle is giving them a run for their money at 7-4-1, but most teams have been able to consistently get points at their home pitch. The Whitecaps have posted a 1-1-1 record in their last three matches at BC Place, and you would like to see them start to improve on that. Thankfully, the Whitecaps also own a 7-4-2 road record, experience that could prove invaluable when the post-season rolls around.
With RSL surging, and the Whitecaps in the midst of a jammed packed schedule, this could be a classic trap match. However, I think the 'Caps will bring their 'A' game and wow the crowd at BC Place. Let's say, 2-1 'Caps.