Three key members of the Vancouver Whitecaps have left the squad for Copa America duty, and that means Head Coach Carl Robinson will be looking to his bench as the Whitecaps take on the Houston Dynamo this weekend.
Center Back Kendall Waston and midfielder Christian Bolanos have already departed for the Costa Rican team, and Blas Perez leaves for the Panamian team on Friday. With the Whitecaps coming off a frustrating, disappointing loss to the Portland Timbers over the weekend, a good performance against the Dynamo is very much needed, although it may be hard to come by.
The Whitecaps backline has looked disjointed at best in recent memory. Four goals allowed against the Timbers, three allowed the previous week during a messy win against Toronto FC. The Province reporter Marc Weber put it best in a recent tweet.
Looking beyond calls tonight. Big picture. Caps have conceded 24 goals in 14 games. Tied for worst GA total in MLS. Jacobson-Parker for HOU?— Marc Weber (@ProvinceWeber) May 23, 2016
Weber calls for a Center Back pairing of Andrew Jacobson and Tim Parker for the Dynamo match, and it's hard to argue with that. Pa Modou Kah had a night to forget against the Timbers and needs to sit, and Jacobson and Parker have both shown comfortability in the Center Back role. It may be an untested pairing, but right now I think it's the best the Whitecaps can go with.
Up front, the Whitecaps attack has been progressing nicely, and the boys seem to have snapped out of that early April slump that saw them open that with three straight goalless outings. A big part of that has been the improved play of Christian Bolanos, who has gone from invisible early in the season to a real goal scoring option for Carl Robinson.
Bolanos has four goals this season, tied with Kekuta Manneh for second on the team behind Pedro Morales. His four goals have come in the last six games, after going the first eight without scoring. He's definitely riding a hot streak, and it will be shame to not have him in the lineup versus Houston. Up front, Blas Perez has also been a great depth option for the club, even if he hasn't figured in the starting 11 on a regular basis. So, who picks up the slack for them?
Russell Teibert could fit into the lineup for Bolanos. Teibert may not have the same propensity for the attack that Bolanos has, but he's dependable and put in 90 minutes against Toronto on May 14th. Now that the Whitecaps are scoring a bit more, they could afford to put Teibert in a defensive midfield role with Matias Laba.
What do you think? What lineup tweaks would you like to see, as the Whitecaps deal with some absences?