Where: BC Place, Vancouver, BC
When: Saturday, May 27 at 4:00PM
How: TV - TSN1 and Radio - TSN 1040
The Vancouver Whitecaps face D.C. United on Saturday at BC Place in their only meeting of the season. Vancouver (5-5-1) is riding a successful run of form of late having won four of their last five games, including a 2-1 win against Montréal in the first leg of their Canadian championship campaign.
There has been talk at training of this being a “banana peel” game, the proverbial opportunity to slip on the hardwood floors, smack their head on the sink and lay stunned for fifteen to twenty minutes while their date gives up on them because they won’t call back - or so to speak. D.C comes to town with their 3-6-2 record, while sitting last place in the eastern conference standings. They have one win in their last five games and are coming off a loss at home to Chicago. It should be easy pickings for the ‘Caps, right? In all honesty it should be, but the players and coach have steeled themselves against any kind of let down with talk of MLS parity and the , “any team can win on any given day” rhetoric. D.C. manager Ben Olsen has recently admitted his organization is already looking to the summer transfer window, because they “need to get better.” So, while the ‘Caps should win this game if they play to their levels, as Robbo would say, it is reassuring to hear them talk the talk, we’ll see Saturday if they walk the walk.
The ‘Caps won’t have any excuses either because, even though the team last played on Tuesday, that game didn’t feature a single starter that has comprised the same starting eleven six league games in a row. Robbo’s starting 11 should be fresh and will likely consist of much of that starting 11, plus Laba’s replacement as he serves his suspension for yellow card accumulation. Just how Laba’s absence affects the team’s formation will be interesting to see. Does Robbo return to the 4-2-3-1 with Jacobson and Tchani at DM, or does he hand the sole defensive mid keys to one of them. With Tuesday’s second leg in Montréal looming, I doubt we see Teibert or McKendry start, as they will be needed soon enough. Brek Shea has been impressive lately in the forward position, as he has returned from a recent knee injury. But having played a full ’90 on Tuesday, I suspect he won’t see the pitch at all this weekend.
It should be an entertaining game from a Whitecaps perspective. The ‘Caps have had the fortune of playing a number of teams beneath them in the standings recently, and, save for a whiteout in the mountains, they have beaten those teams. It has been encouraging to see their offense come to life against struggling teams, and I see this game as another opportunity to do just that. Will we see Techera continue to attack the goal? Does Montero finally get back on the scoreboard? And who comes in for Laba? Is it Nicolas Mezquida, who came off the bench Tuesday? Does BC place once again become a fortress? They have only lost one league game at home this year.
All they need to do is walk the walk, don’t you think?