It seems almost ridiculous to call this weekend's match an important one, given we're only just six games into the 2016 MLS season. However, the Vancouver Whitecaps were absolutely crushed at the hands of DC United last weekend, and it's made many question just what this team has to bring to the table in the 2016 season.
A strong performance against Real Salt Lake this weekend will help build the narrative that it was a one off match, a mere blemish on the record the Whitecaps will not repeat again this season. However, if the Whitecaps struggle, if the attack looks stagnant again, they'll have plenty of tough questions to answer moving forward. The Whitecaps have promised to be better this weekend; Now we'll see if that's just talk.
THE LAST MATCH
For the Whitecaps: I won't go into this again for Vancouver. It was bad.
For Real Salt Lake: RSL took a 1-0 home win against the Colorado Rapids on April 9th, thanks to Joao Plata's fourth goal of the season. RSL remains the only unbeaten squad in MLS (3-0-2).
THE INJURY UPDATE
The Whitecaps were quite thin last weekend, and it may be the case again when they take on RSL. According to WhitecapsFC.com, the club can only be certain that Matias Laba will return from his one match, red-card suspension. That means key players like Pedro Morales (left hip flexor strain), Octavio Rivero (right hip flexor strain), Christian Bolanos (left quad contusion) and Nicolas Mezquida (right knee sprain) are still a question mark heading into the match.
Meanwhile, according to the MLS injury report, RSL will be dealing with some absences of their own. Center Back Phanuel Kavita (MCL), Backliner Boyd Okwuono (Concussion), and Forward Emery Welshmen (hip flexor) are all expected to miss the contest. Javier Morales (ribs) is listed as questionable, but this recent tweet from Chris Kamrani indicates he will play.
Jeff Cassar said Joao Plata and Javier Morales are sick. Morales is questionable for Vancouver. Sunny is probable, per Cassar. #RSL— Chris Kamrani (@chriskamrani) April 13, 2016
WHERE AND WHEN IS IT?
Match Time: 7 pm
Place: Rio Tinto Stadium
Watch: TSN 1
Listen: TSN 1040
Prediction: The Whitecaps will be motivated, but they're taking on a very good squad that has one of the hottest players in the league, in forward Joao Plata. He has 4 goals and 3 assists this season, and has figured in on 8 of the 10 goals RSL has scored this season. He'll be a tough player to contain, and David Ousted will have to be on his toes.
I don't think the Whitecaps are the better team here, and I think an early RSL goal could really shatter their confidence. My heart says Whitecaps, but my brain says this will be RSL's day. 2-0 RSL