If there were still any doubts about whether the Whitecaps would play with three-at-the-back this season, this match should have reinforced that we will see much of the same this season. The Caps started the match playing a 4-2-3-1, with the only surprise being Alphonso Davies taking up the left-back position. Stefan Marinovic started in net, with Sean Franklin, David Edgar, and Aaron Maund rounding out the backline. In front of them were Efrain Juarez and Russell Teibert. Attacking were Yordy Reyna, Bernie Ibini, Anthony Blondell, and Brek Shea.
Blondell open the scoring in the 33rd minute, via a header, from a cross delivered in by Ibini. This goal should highlight, again, what the plan for the Caps will be this season: cross the ball into the box and hope that one of their tall players can get on the end of it.
Although Blondell looked a little hesitant in his first match, back in Hawaii, he has looked a lot stronger in California. He and Reyna have clearly found some chemistry on and off the field and hopefully that translates to continued success on the field. They put on a show against LAFC in their previous match, scoring twice each, with Blondell picking up two assists and Reyna one.
At the half, Carl Robinson made a full-team change, but kept the 4-2-3-1 (sort of). Brian Rowe started in net, with Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, and Marcel de Jong in the back. Tony Tchani, David Norman Jr., Nicolas Mezquida, Cristian Techera, Kei Kamara, and Erik Hurtado (making his debut) completed the lineup.
Kamara completed the scoring in the 63rd minute. The goal was scored off a low-cross from Mezquida, with Hurtado missing the pass, but Kamara following in behind him, on the back post, to slot it home.
While it is only the preseason, it is nice to see the Whitecaps top players getting into a rhythm, with Blondell, Kamara, and Reyna all scoring lately. In addition, the assist men (Reyna, Techera, Mezquida, and full-backs) have been putting in good balls. Hopefully this allows the Caps to get out to a quick start this season.
Signed to his first MLS contract in the off-season, it is clear that Norman Jr. has impressed, and I would expect to see him get some spot minutes for the club this season. However, a part of me also wonders if he would be better served played regular minutes with Fresno rather than being a training body. With the Caps depth at the defensive midfield position, Norman Jr may only play 100 minutes with the club this season.
Finally, with the announcement of Sean Franklin being signed for the 2018 season, I would look at the Tuesday squad (plus Aly Ghazal) as the players that will be with the club to start the season. There have been plenty of rumors of incoming midfielders, and other possibilities, but with less than two weeks until the home opener against Montreal Impact, even if a big signing were to come in, I would not expect to see them until a few matches into the season.
What are your takes on what you have seen this preseason? Are you content with the squad that Carl Robinson has put together? What about the evidence that Robbo will keep with his 4-2-3-1?