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Pre-Match – Ouch. Did that Hurt? Whitecaps Head to KC

A quick pick me up, dust me off and turn it around for the Whitecaps as they get set to take on a depleted Sporting KC side at Children’s Mercy Park.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday wasn’t a pretty performance. Across the pitch there was a regression from the Whitecaps going forward, something that was clear to see in the lack of penetration into the Atlanta United final third during the 1-0 home defeat.

On the plus side, after following up another home match where the Whitecaps hosted a club that was coming into BC Place on great form, the ‘Caps now get to visit a club that is struggling for form themselves. Perhaps even better – the ‘Caps head to Children’s Mercy Park to take on a Sporting KC side that lost to that same Atlanta club 3-0 just two weeks ago.

Albeit, the Peter Vermes lead club are also bereft of regular starters, having suffered injury after injury. Sporting KC go into Saturday’s match with no less than eight injuries, and potentially as many as ten players from their first team regulars.

The list is so long that Vermes is even having trouble remembering who it includes, and while updating reporters on his current infirmary registry, admitted “I know I’m missing someone,” because so many players are out that he’s just piecing it together right now.

A staple of MLS and SKC, Graham Zusi has been out since said Atlanta match with an oblique injury. Jaylin Lindsey who has already been through knee surgery, found out that he had a broken bone in his wrist earlier this week and had a pin placed in it.

Even long-time energy man for the Vancouver Whitecaps, Erik Hurtado had wrist surgery on Wednesday after being absent from the team since March after picking up a knee injury.

Heading into Saturday, the Sporting injury list reads as follows:

  • OUT: Erik Hurtado (F) - right knee surgery, wrist
  • OUT: Jaylin Lindsey (D) - torn meniscus, wrist
  • OUT: Rodney Wallace (D) - hip surgery
  • OUT: Roger Espinoza (M) - knee injury
  • OUT: Gerso Fernandes (F) - broken wrist
  • OUT: Andreu Fontas (D) - calf injury
  • OUT: Wan Kuzain (M) - ankle injury
  • OUT: Graham Zusi (D) - oblique injury
  • QUESTIONABLE: Jimmy Medranda (M) - knee injury
  • QUESTIONABLE: Daniel Salloi (F) - groin injury

I mean, yikes.

But, wait – that’s pretty convenient timing for a team looking to bounce back from a home defeat and try to pick-up points in a stadium that has been historically harsh on them, right?

As one of my good friends says when in doubt, ‘yo, maybe.’

While the ‘Caps were easily tamed by an Atlanta side that game planned and executed, they’re still not reeling from that kind of injury list, and are 2-2-1 over their last five, 3-4-3 over their past ten and have started to look like a team capable of controlling possession in a match.

Heading to Kansas City, the Whitecaps are without a few of their own, Jon Erice is still sidelined with his left ankle sprain, as are Yordy Reyna and Lass Bangoura through hamstring strains. Fortunately for the Whitecaps, the list of key players ends there.

Perhaps this small(er) rash of injuries could move the Whitecaps into a shape that even allows some of their players to perform in roles that are better suited to them.

Knowing Marc Dos Santos’ willingness to adjust his tactics based on opponent, and personnel, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a different shape and some surprise starters. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that we could see either a 5-2-3 or a 4-4-1-1.

If it were me, I’d opt for the latter and look to go with something that looks like:

Obviously some of that depends on fatigue, and MDS admitted on Thursday as his team headed to the airport for the trip to Kansas City that he’s lost in who to pick for Saturday. That “we’re going to have a meeting with the medical department, have a look at the results and the data from [Wednesday] night, talk with some players, so then based on the players who are available, we’ll have a very good idea on how we are going to address the game.”

That could mean that the likes of Scott Sutter potentially get a look, or even that Joaquin Ardaiz could see a starting berth up top – though I wouldn’t hold my breath regarding the latter.

Either way, there certainly appears to be an opportunity for the Whitecaps to capitalise on their depleted and out of form opponent and try to bounce back into the win column as they try to work their way up the standings.

Kick-off is scheduled for 5:30PM Pacific, with the broadcast available on TSN and ESPN+.