It's the Whitecaps first trip to the east coast this weekend, and a date with DC United is on the plate. Vancouver will be looking to increase their undefeated streak to four, but standing in their way is a team desperate for their first win of the year.
We got in touch with Ryan Keefer from Black and Red United to get his take on DC United's situation so far.
Eighty Six Forever: So far it's only three goals in five games for you guys. Who are the players that you expect to step up for United up front?
Black and Red United: I think the drought has been due in part to a reconfigured midfield; from the last time Vancouver played D.C. (and lost, ahem), the only midfielder that returned is Nick DeLeon, and he's playing in the center after moving from the outside, playing in a role positionally similar to the recently retired Davy Arnaud. They've been shooting more (2nd in the League after being last and next to last in the last two years), but shot accuracy and quality is left wanting; if anyone wants to set up a prop bet on the number of blocked shots Fabian Espindola will do from 20 yards out of net, they should probably do so. Espindola's form has been horrible in the regular season thus far and he needs to regain his 2014 form, or some manner of it, for D.C. to have some measure of success.
86F: This is the first year that Travis Worra is your starting goalkeeper. Do you think that he is capable of reaching Bill Hamid's level?
BRU: Travis Worra has definitely improved from the last time he saw the Whitecaps, and I see no reason he can't do it again!
OK, it's out of my system, I swear. He has improved on quickness and decision-making, the byproduct of a lot of playing time with D.C.'s USL affiliate the Richmond Kickers in 2014. It's hard to tell what his upside is, but it would have to be massive for him to reach levels of Bill Hamid. Hamid's been playing since he was five, seen experience at youth and first team levels at a national team level, and can/has singlehandedly won games for D.C. when they had no business to do so. Travis Worra is more of a caretaker at this point and only starting showing glimpses of those skills last week against the San Jose Earthquakes
. With D.C. going through goalkeepers like Spinal Tap goes through drummers, at the very least he would seem to be improving his place on the depth chart to supplant Andrew Dykstra
, D.C.'s #2 keeper who is out to back surgery.
86F: Off season signing Lamar Neagle had earned a spot on the MLS Team of the Week for his performance against the Quakes last week. What are you hoping that he will bring to the team this year?
BRU: Before the season began, the thought was Lamar Neagle would do a lot of the same things that longtime D.C. player Chris Pontius would do (be a presence offensively while not hesitating to help on the defending half whatever the assignment), but Lamar's done a couple of different things this season already, first as almost a target forward on occasion, but has assumed his role on the left side of midfield. He's done some un-Lamar Neagle like things so far, specifically taking set pieces, and nearly got one in last week. He's won more aerials per game than anyone in MLS save for Kei Kamara, and with fellow air warrior Steve Birnbaum, those will be two players to watch if D.C. has chances at set pieces.
Starting XI: Worra; Franklin, Birnbaum, Boswell, Kemp; Nyarko, DeLeon, Sarvas, Neagle; Rolfe, Espindola
Prediction: Rivero gets a goal early, but D.C. battles back with a goal from Nyarko and the points are shared 1-1. Vancouver leaves with a road point, D.C.'s angst continues.