After a four-game homestand, the Vancouver Whitecaps (6-6-2) head back out on the road to face off against MLS expansion side Minnesota United (5-9-2).
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
When: Saturday, June 24th at 5 pm PST
How: TSN1 & TSN4 (TV), TSN 1040 (Radio)
This will be the first of two matches between the ‘Caps and the Loons during the latter’s inaugural season, with Vancouver hosting the second match on September 13th.
Like Atlanta United from earlier this month, any knowledge to be gained from a team never played before starts with any and all familiar opponents, such as Marc Burch (Seattle Sounders & Colorado Rapids), Sam Cronin (San Jose Earthquakes & Colorado), and Bobby Shuttleworth (New England Revolution).
There’s still a number of Whitecaps who continue to be out for an extended period of time (Christian Dean, David Edgar, Erik Hurtado, Brett Levis, Nicolas Mezquida, and Yordy Reyna), while Christian Bolanos and Kendall Waston continue to recover from their respective injuries picked up during the recent International break. In fact, Waston recently underwent a successful surgery on his right hand. And although the charges against Sheanon Williams were stayed, he most likely will not return until he completes his SABH assessment.
For Minnesota, the MLS injury report presently lists midfielders Bernardo Anon and Thomas de Villardi, and defenders Marc Burch (who may be out for the next three months), Vadim Demidov, and Joseph Greenspan as unavailable, while forward Abu Danladi will be suspended after picking up a red card during Minnesota’s home win against Portland.
Who’s Worth Watching?
With a number of veterans missing this away match, I say pay attention to the command and temerity of Tim Parker. It’s been incredibly easy to forget that he’s only been in the MLS for roughly two seasons (based on games played, anyway) and that’s entirely due to his confidence and leadership on the pitch. In a game like this one, as Parker goes, so goes the Whitecaps’ backline. And who can argue against the quality of a deserving all-star?
Parker’s biggest threat on the night? That will undoubtedly be Chrisitian Ramirez. He’s the Loons leading scorer, with 9 goals in 16 games played, which ties him for fourth in the league Golden Boot race. The young striker also nabbed two NASL Golden Boots (and one second-place finish) while playing for Minnesota’s Division II incarnation, totaling 51 goals over those three years.
However, it’s worth noting that Ramirez has actually tallied 11 goals this season, after netting own goals against both Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy. It turns out he’s dangerous in any penalty area in which he finds himself.
Piss-taking aside, the Whitecaps backline will have to remain very weary of any run Ramirez makes, lest they find themselves in a deep hole early Saturday evening.
Who’s Going to Win?
All of Minnesota’s win this year have come at home, so this match will most likely prove to be far more difficult for the Whitecaps than the return leg will be later this season (as the Loons are winless on the road thus far).
However, what Minnesota has going against them in this match is that, as of Wednesday’s win against Portland, they’re no longer in last in the Western Conference. Why is that good for the Whitecaps? Well, they’ve already lost to two temporary cellar dwellars this season (Real Salt Lake and D.C. United), so stands to reason that Vancouver would have lost to another last place team, right? Hey, I’m just pointing out the trends.
Regardless, travel is always an issue in the MLS, so the Whitecaps have that going against them. And one could argue that Minnesota has turned a corner this season to some degree, when comparing their last 5 matches (2-3-0) to their first 5 (1-3-1).
Nevertheless, I get the sense that this match will be reminiscent of the performance Vancouver had against the Montreal Impact in April, except this time the ‘Caps will win by a scoreline of 1-0, off a late goal (let’s say it’ll be... Jordan Harvey) after having conceded the play to Minnesota for most of the match.
Vancouver Whitecaps - Ousted; Nerwinski, Seiler, Parker, Harvey; Laba; Techera, Jacobson, Tchani, Davies; Montero.
Minnesota United - Shuttleworth; Venegas, Kallman, Calvo, Thiesson; Cronin, Ibson; Ibarra, Venegas, Molino; Ramirez.
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero; AR1: Jason White; AR2: Jose Da Silva; 4th: Baboucarr Jallow.