The Netflix original series Black Mirror is a collection of self contained stories which show a glimpse of a dark potential future. LAFC are sort of the reverse of that for the Vancouver Whitecaps. They show what could be, if only things were just a little different. They are a mixture of young players and high priced difference makers. They play lovely football in a soccer specific stadium that is generally full. My dream of what the Vancouver Whitecaps would look like in an ideal world looks an awful lot like LAFC. But at the moment LAFC are top of the Western conference while the Whitecaps are near the bottom and still haven’t won. If we’re lucky Wednesday’s match could be a glimpse into the future but it will almost certainly be a bleak reminder of where we are at present.
Wednesday March 17th | 7:00 pm |B.C Place
TV: TSN 1/3
LAFC are very good. They’ve won six games, drawn one and lost none so far. During those seven games they’ve scored 21 goals and only conceded 5. Carlos Vela has eight goals and five assists through the first seven games. These totals would have made him the fourth top goalscorer on the 2018 Vancouver Whitecaps and he’s done it in only seven games. To help him out, Diego Rossi has six goals and one assist. The Whitecaps don’t have anyone with two goals. The magnitude of the mismatch can’t be overstated. I know it’s not a perfect resource but here’s what the Whoscored.com algorithm has to say about the strengths and weaknesses of the teams:
Suboptimal to say the least.
LAFC’s style is very attacking. They almost play with four out and out strikers. Typically Adama Diomande is a mobile target man but he’s injured for this match so it will likely be Christian Ramirez who starts as the centre forward. Latif Blessing sits in behind him. Blessing has spent most of his career as a winger who got his goals by picking up loose pieces in the penalty area but has been repurposed as a quasi #10. Vela and Rossi on the wings are the danger men. Alternatively they may drop Blessing back in to midfield as a shuttler to make more of a 4-3-3. Throwing so many men forward, and the class of LAFC’s players, overwhelms opposition defences and the result is a team that’s unbeaten and averaging three goals a game.
In the back Mark Anthony Kaye and Eduard Atuesta patrol the area in front of the back four. Both are excellent passers and tacklers. The defence features former Whitecaps Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour, as well as U.S international Walker Zimmerman and loanee Eddie Segura. In goal is Tyler Miller. Miller is a bang average MLS goalkeeper but since LAFC have conceded the 4th fewest shots in the league it doesn’t really matter, bang average is all they need.
It’s hard to see any path to victory for the Whitecaps in this one. But if I had to pick one I would say that it’s to bunker and hit LAFC on the counter. The Whitecaps have been pretty good at limiting their opposition to shots from areas they aren’t likely to score from (when they aren’t conceding comic penalties as a result of VAR). They also have a big speed advantage on the back four of LAFC, who won’t be getting all that much help from their very attacking wingers. If you can get Lass Bangoura in a footrace with Jordan Harvey, you’d fancy Bangoura to win. Maybe they can create something from that? I don’t know, honestly the best strategy i’ve come up with is writing an article where I say the Whitecaps have no chance which will jinx it so that they pull a 3-0 win out of nowhere. But will acknowledging that thought has crossed my mind mean that the power of the jinx will be reversed? Good god, why can’t the Whitecaps just be good?
Look folks, I think the Whitecaps are better than their record shows and that Marc Dos Santos generally has the right idea about how to build an MLS team. But LAFC are just too well funded and drilled for the Whitecaps in their current form to beat them (probably).
- OUT: F - Adama Diomande (hamstring injury)
- OUT: F - Rodolfo Zelaya (right soleus injury)
- OUT: M - Andre Horta (right quad strain)
- QUESTIONABLE: M - Lee Nguyen (right soleus strain)
- QUESTIONABLE: M - Alejandro Guido (right quad strain)
- OUT: M - Michael Baldisimo (left ankle contusion)
- OUT: D - Jasser Khmiri (left knee injury)
- OUT: M - Andy Rose (facial fracture)
- OUT: M - David Norman Jr. (right foot)
LAFC: Miller; Harvey, Segura, Zimmerman, Beitashour; Kaye, Atuesta, Blessing; Vela, Ramirez, Rossi.
VWFC: Crepeau; Adnan, Henry, Godoy, Sutter; Erice, Teibert, Felipe; Hwang, Ardaiz, Bangoura.