The Vancouver Whitecaps host Orlando City on Saturday afternoon in their only regular season meeting of 2018. The Whitecaps currently sit 6th in the West, with 20 points and a 5-5-5 record, but have played at least one more match than every other team in the West. The Lions also reside in 6th place, in the East, with 19 points and a 6-6-1 record.
Where to Watch/Listen
In Person: 4:00 pm Saturday, June 9th at BC Place
Radio: Team 1040 (http://www.iheartradio.ca/tsn/tsn-vancouver-1040)
Television: TSN 1/4 (Canada); ESPN+ (United States)
The match pits two clubs heading in opposite directions against each other. Although the Whitecaps notched their first victory in five matches last Friday evening, following a 2-1 victory at Colorado, they have only one loss in their last seven matches (2-0 at Minnesota). In comparison, after six consecutive wins, Orlando City is reeling from four consecutive losses in MLS, with the most recent being 3-0 to NYCFC. It is worth noting that the other three losses were home to Atlanta, away to Toronto, and home to Chicago. In other words, they were facing some challenging, top, clubs. The Lions were able to advance in the US Open Cup Wednesday evening with a 3-0 victory over National Premier Soccer League club Miami United. They did so while using a primarily reserve squad, meaning they are well rested for their transcontinental trip to Vancouver.
The Whitecaps have yet to lose to the Lions in their three MLS matchups, winning both matches in Orlando City and drawing their only match in Vancouver. Orlando City will be keen to get a result in this match, to put an end to their franchise-worst four game losing streak, while Vancouver will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak to six matches. With how the teams’ match history has gone and how the Whitecaps are playing of late, it is quite possible we see another draw; satisfying both objectives.
Who is Out
Dom Dwyer has been out for several weeks and is listed as questionable for this match. He will be key for Orlando, as they have six wins and one loss when he is in the lineup, and zero wins, five losses, and one draw when he is out of the lineup. Away at the World Cup is Peruvian Yoshi Yotun. That is good news for Vancouver, as Yotun already has three goals and five assists in ten matches this season. Without those two, Orlando City would be missing their top two scorers.
On Vancouver’s side, they will be without their captain Kendall Waston, who is also away at the World Cup. While he is working his way back, goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic is also expected to be out of the lineup. Starting left back Marcel de Jong could return from his left hamstring strain, however, Carl Robinson may elect to give him the match off, and the two weeks of extra recovery time. As a result, we might see Brek Shea start again at left back, or the return of Brett Levis to the Starting XI. With this being a home match, and Dwyer and Yotun out of the lineup, we might see Robbo elect to go with the more offensive Shea as the Caps might not feel too concerned about the counter from the Lions. Doneil Henry and Jose Aja did well in Colorado and will probably be the center back pairing once again, while it is anyone’s guess as to whether Jake Nerwinski or Sean Franklin will start at right back; I am hoping for Nerwinski.
What to Expect
Carl Robinson has elected to go with a 4-4-2 in recent matches, and I expect that to continue. The Whitecaps have a two week break following this one, so expect the strongest lineup possible, pending injuries. However, the question that may be on some people’s mind is what exactly is their best Starting XI currently. I think that MLSSoccer.com has it correct though:
Defensive Four: Nerwinski, Henry, Aja, Shea
Midfield Four: Techera, Felipe, Juarez, Davies
Front Two: Reyna, Kamara
I believe that anything less than a victory by Vancouver will be deemed a failure by the players and the fans. The club needs to begin exerting some dominance at home, as they have been merely average at BC Place over the past few seasons. This year they are 2-1-4, while last season they were 9-3-5.
In addition, players will want to head into the short World Cup break on a high note while entertaining the home crowd. The Whitecaps do not play for two weeks, and while the World Cup will be a nice distraction, it is two weeks that fans get to dwell on an underwhelming performance should that occur.
Final Score: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 Orlando City 1 (just because Whitecaps can’t seem to keep a clean sheet).