For the first time in MLS club history, the Vancouver Whitecaps are set to host a Central American club, this evening at BC Place. While fans are (somewhat?) excited about this occasion, there is an important underlying story with the trio of games the team is set to play.
Over the next 7 days, the Vancouver Whitecaps will host C.D. Olimpia (tonight) and Seattle Sounders (Saturday), and will travel to Seattle for a game next Wednesday. Outside of defeating a new opponent, in C.D. Olimipia, and a familiar foe, in Seattle Sounders, Whitecaps fans may be unaware of what a clean sweep of all 3 games could mean to the Whitecaps. If the Whitecaps were to win both of their Wednesday night contests, the team would clinch their birth into the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL); set to continue next season. Why are 2 wins important, beyond the obvious? The Whitecaps are scheduled to travel to Honduras for the final game of their CCL group matches on October 22nd. 3 days later, the Whitecaps host the Houston Dynamo, to close out the MLS season. Win against C.D. Olimpia tonight and Seattle Sounders next Wednesday, and the Whitecaps can send an all ThunderCaps lineup to Honduras in October, knowing the result of that game is irrelevant This would provide excellent experience for the young 'Caps, and allow Carl Robinson to rest all of his starters for the crucial final game of the regular season; where the Whitecaps could be battling for 1st place in the West...or more!
While it is exciting to think about the Vancouver Whitecaps winning these next 2 Wednesdays and securing their CCL quarterfinal birth, those games pale in comparison to what awaits the Whitecaps on Saturday evening. Win that game against the Seattle Sounders and the Whitecaps acquire their second trophy of the season, in the Cascadia Cup. More importantly, they win it AT BC Place, for the first time. Getting way, WAY, ahead of myself, imagine for a moment winning the Canadian Championship at home, the Cascadia Cup at home, AND the Supporters Shield at home, on the last day of the regular season. That is what potentially awaits the Whitecaps going forward.
For the Whitecaps to achieve all that I have outlined above, it starts with a crucial win this evening against C.D. Olimpia. Robbo has made it clear that he will be providing young players the opportunity to play. With the depth that the Whitecaps have, I am not too concerned about this. Of course, C.D. Olimpia should not be taken for granted, but the Whitecaps have a strong second team and C.D. Olimpia has not been performing well in their domestic league this season. It sets up well for the Whitecaps to field several first team players with a group of young ThunderCaps regulars, having plenty of experience playing together already this season, and coming away with a victory.
What do you expect to see from the Whitecaps over these next 3 matches? Do you, realistically, see them winning all 3? What do they need to do, lineup wise, to achieve this goal? Let us know below.