As amazing as it was to see the Vancouver Whitecaps (1-4-2) secure their first win of the season, against league leading LAFC no less, the Blue & White had to save the celebrating for the airport bar, as they’re now tasked with their longest trip of the season: an away match to Orlando City SC (2-3-2).
Where: Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, FL
When: Saturday, April 20th at 12 noon PST
How: TSN1, TSN5 (TV); TSN 1040 (Radio); MLS Live on ESPN+ (Internet)
What Happened Last
Being an Eastern Conference opponent, the Whitecaps faced off against Orlando City for a single match in 2018, when the Lions came to Vancouver for a 5-2 loss.
After a Kei Kamara goal at 36’ was equalized by Sacha Kljestan twenty-eight minutes later, a draw seemed eventual, given how Vancouver had four in their previous five matches. But with fifteen minutes left, goals from Alphonso Davies (76’), a PK from Kamara (85’), Yordy Reyna (87’), and a capper from Nico Mezquida (90’) turned the match into the only real beatdown handed out by the Whitecaps last season.
Dom Dwyer (90’+4’) knocked one in during injury time to lessen the scoreboard’s ugliness, but keep in mind all this was done after Mohamed El-Munir (now with LAFC, incidentally) was dismissed after his second yellow card.
All-time, Vancouver has a great track record against Orlando, having gone 2-0-0 in Florida (3 GF, 1 GA) and 3-0-1 overall (10 GF, 5 GA).
For the Whitecaps, no injuries of note came from the match on Wednesday, so the IR list remains comprised of midfielders Michael Baldisimo (ankle), Andy Rose (facial fracture, concussion), David Norman Jr. (foot surgery); and defender Jasser Khmiri (knee).
For what it’s worth, three yellow cards were handed out on Wednesday, but Doneil Henry (first), PC Giro (second), and Hwang In-beom (first) are all well away from any disciplinary actions.
...Which is the perfect lead-in for reupping on this ridiculous video of Nani from two weeks ago:
Welcome to MLS Nani pic.twitter.com/PaO2WQbA2N— Jay⭐Riddle (@jay_riddle) April 7, 2019
He was never suspended, and even scored an inconsequential the goal the following week! Point being is that hopefully he gets all angsty this weekend and does something stupid. Never forget the importance of riling up spazzes.
As for the Lions’ injured, defender Alex De John (hamstring) is out while another defender, Carlos Ascues (hamstring) is questionable. It’s possible Ascues may make the start if he’s game fit, seeing as how he started in four of six Orlando matches prior to getting hurt, but I wouldn’t be surprised if coach James O’Connor errs on the side of caution for one more week.
Who’s Worth Watching?
Dom Dwyer vs. Erik Godoy
This one, I don’t want to overcomplicate. There’s never been any love loss between Dwyer and the Whitecaps centerbacks he’s staring up at.
It could be that he just likes messing with centerbacks in general, or takes particular pleasure in doing so with Vancouver. Ah, I’m sure he gets into it with fans everywhere. We’re not special.
Nevertheless, a striker talking trash is fine. Adds a bit of intrigue to the match and whatnot.
But if he tries anything with Godoy? It’ll be like yelling at the moai stone statues on Easter Island. Even his goal celebration at the start of the season was super subdued.
He shares the lead in goals scores, after all, but if Dwyer can’t let his play do the talking, all he’ll have left is actual talking. I have a suspicion that Erik Godoy won’t be listening.
Who’s Going to Win?
When weighing the randomness of a one-off encounter against a foe from the other conference, it sometimes helps to start with the tried & true MLS factors.
Travel? Yes, the Whitecaps are on their longest trip of the season, but that’s never bothered the club in two previous away encounters to Orlando.
History? The ’Caps have never lost to Orlando, with five players remaining from the 2018 match and three, Teibert, Nerwinski, and Reyna (and technically Montero), still around from 2017, so this factor is a little specious. Plus, with only five of eighteen having made the previous trip, it kind of negates the previous point on travel.
Similar opponents? That would be Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake, who we both **checks notes** respectively tied away and lost by one away, so no help there, either.
Short break between games? This may be indicative of something. The last time the Whitecaps had a short week was May 2018, where they followed a 2-2 home draw to Houston with a midweek home draw to San Jose, 2-2, before travelling to Dallas to earn, you guessed it, a 2-2 draw.
What I’m getting at is that away travel, even on three days rest, isn’t as insurmountable as it appears. If last year’s mess of a club could rebound from two home draws to go to a venue where they’re historically bad and earn a result, travelling to Orlando, a stadium that feels like it’s entirely roar, doesn’t sound difficult.
And after Wednesday’s win, I’m nearly certain that’s not just hubris talking. After the last four matches, the Whitecaps look like they’re finally clicking, so I’m calling this a 2-1 win. Ardaiz and Lass will tally, but Dwyer will bury one to piss us all off/get us all worried about the last thirty minutes again.
Vancouver - MacMath; Adnan, Godoy, Cornelius, Sutter; Hwang, Erice, Felipe; Bangoura, Ardaiz, Reyna.
Orlando - Rowe; Jansson, Sané, O’Neill; Moutinho, Kljestan, Mendez, Ruan; Nani; Akindele, Dwyer.
Referee: Alan Kelly; AR1: Adam Wienckowski; AR2: Jeremy Kieso; 4th: Yusri Rudolf; VAR: Caleb Mendez; AVAR: Kevin Klinger.