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Beyond the Lens - Starting Slowly

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Trend or statistical anomaly

MLS: Toronto FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The past two winners of MLS Cup Presented by Audi have struck at the heart of myself and Caps Nation, being Portland and Seattle, respectively. Now some are saying that that’s a blueprint to a potential cup win. Let’s take a look at the last 5 MLS Cup winners and see if there’s anything there.

2012 Champions - LA Galaxy
Lost to TFC in the CCL QF Round
After 10 games, 3-5-2 (W-L-D)
3rd Rd loss in the US Open Cup
Won Group 5 of the 2012-2013 Champions League
Entered the playoffs on a 6-2-3 (W-L-D) run
Lost 6 of 7 in May
Finished 4th in the Western Conference
Defeated Vancouver, San Jose and Seattle before beating Houston for the Cup

2013 Champions - Sporting Kansas City
No CCL QF
After 10 games, they were 5-3-2 (W-L-D)
4th Round Loss in the US Open Cup
Won Group 2 of the 2013-2014 Champions League
Entered the playoffs on a 6-3-1 (W-L-D) run
Finished 2nd in the East
Defeated New England and Houston before defeating RSL for the Cup

2014 Champions - LA Galaxy
Lost in the QF Round of 2014 CCL
After 10 games, they were 4-3-3
5th Round Loss in the US Open Cup
Did Not Qualify for the 2014-2015 CCL
Entered the playoffs on a 5-2-3 run
Finished 2nd in the West
Defeated RSL and Seattle before defeating New England for the Cup

2015 Champions - Portland Timbers
No CCL QF play
After 10 games, they were 3-4-3
5th Rd Loss in the US Open Cup
Did not Qualify for the 2015-2016 CCL
Entered the playoffs on a 5-3-2 run
Switched from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 mid-season
Got Will Johnson and Diego Valeri back from injury
Finished 3rd in the West
Defeated SKC, Vancouver and Dallas before defeating Columbus for the Cup

2016 Champions - Seattle Sounders
Lost in the QF of the 2015-2016 CCL
On May 1st, they were 3-4-1
QF loss in the US Open Cup
Did not qualify for the 2016-2017 CCL
Entered the playoffs on a 5-2-3 run
Acquired Nicolas Lodeiro, Roman Torres returned from long term injury
Dempsey lost to irregular heartbeat
Finshed 4th in the West
Defeated SKC, Dallas and Colorado before defeating Toronto for the Cup

What can be made from all this? Nothing is for certain.

I think LA’s time for glory has passed, and I’m not sure without the star power of Keane and Beckham, that they can start slow and turn it on at will.

Both Seattle and Portland benefited from some major mid-season changes. Will Johnson and Diego Valeri both returned from injury in 2015. Seattle finally closed the deal for Uruguayan playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro while getting Panamanian centre-back Roman Torres back from almost 12 months off because of a knee injury. It should also be noted that Dempsey was sidelined with an irregular heartbeat. Some would argue that it’s not a huge loss, while I was of the mind-set, that Lodeiro would take Dempsey’s spot leaving Morris as your main striker.

Can the Whitecaps rebound from this 0-2-1 start? It’s possible, but it should be noted that both Seattle and Portland had pieces in place while they struggled. Do the Caps have those pieces?

There are far too many questions that surround this team, most notably discipline as 3 red cards in 6 games says not much has changed from last year. 5 goals in 6 games (3 of which came against RBNY) also says that scoring will be an issue.

Onto the 3 newest additions to this team. Montero, Rosales and Shea. 2 of the 3 are former Sounders, one of whom already spent a season here. Most are over the Rosales being in Seattle thing. I can’t say the same thing about Montero. There is a lot of angst in regards to every aspect of this acquisition. Whether it’s his ties to Seattle or the FO’s apparent liking of former Sounders, it’s definitely got the ranks of the supporters divided.

As for Brek, well, his Instagram account has given supporters some fodder, although yours truly doesn’t give one iota about that. What should be concerning is his lack of impact since arriving. 2 yellows in less than 1 minute is not something to be proud of. The 2nd one should’ve been avoided had be able to keep his yapper shut.

Given the make-up of this roster, I’m not sure the 4-2-3-1 is the right way to be going, unless the 2nd member of the shield is of the Andrea Pirlo mode, which neither Jacobson or Teibert are.

I have been of the belief that a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-5-1 would best suit the Caps.
Attack:
Harvey/Waston/Parker/Williams
Laba
Davies/Bolanos/Shea/Manneh
Montero

Bench: Tornaghi, Nerwinski, Teibert, Techera, Jacobson, Hurtado, deJong

A 4-5-1 would look extremely similar, but with Laba playing a bit closer to the mids than to Ousted.