Teams: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs LAFC
Location: Providence Park, Portland, Oregon
Date and Time: October 14th, 10:00 pm EST, 7:00 pm PST
Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)
What to expect
Mental fortitude. Those are the two words the should be running through the minds of Marc Dos Santos and the rest of the Whitecaps players. They have to ground themselves in reality and avoid falling into the mentality that another win will come for them easily, because their history of following up wins this season is spotty at best. It seems premature, given their track record, for the team or fans to get their hopes up as that seems to jinx the team’s performance. That’s not to take away from their victory over the weekend, more so just to placate expectations in what is essentially a David vs Goliath match.
The international break has thrown a wrench for many teams, and LAFC is no exception. Notably, they’re missing MVP candidate Diego Rossi and fellow Uruguayan Brian Rodriguez, along with Jose Cifuentes and Diego Palacios, who are both playing for Ecuador. The loss of 2⁄3 of their attacking force should be a big hit to the Supporter’s Shield holders, (Compounded with the loss of talisman Carlos Vela) yet in their last match, the players brought in their stead put on a performance that could cause Bob Bradley to think twice about what LA’s strongest lineup could be.
The Whitecaps, as has been said before, have not been too greatly affected by the FIFA international window, with only Jasser Khmiri leaving to play abroad, so in theory they should be able to keep playing the style they have been for the entire seasons and catch other teams struggling to adapt to the losses by surprise. Again, knowing how the Whitecaps are, it would be better for them to clear their heads instead of riding a positive wave that could lead to defenses being dropped and another early half collapse and disillusionment.
Defense is definitely the emphasis that must have been placed over the past couple of days of training, as Marc Dos Santos is now familiar with multiple goal blowouts by his former side of employment. I don’t personally see him putting five at the back as it seems that he has grown comfortable with the formation that he’s been running with for the past number of games, but knowing Marc Dos Santos, I wouldn’t put a complete tactical shift out of the question.
There’s not much more that can be said about the upcoming match, as the season is crazy enough where it’ll come down to the final day to see if many teams are making playoffs or not, save for our Canadian neighbours out east, Toronto FC. It’s very likely we’re seeing the twilight of many player’s Whitecaps careers at this point (Much like every season around this point to be completely honest)as frustrating season seems to be turning into another frustrating rebuild.(We won’t know for sure until it happens, but keeping your expectations at rock bottom allows for anything else to be positive, right?) The Whitecaps have not played pretty this season, and the questions of why this is have been asked since the opener on February 29th, a date which seems like a lifetime ago.
Not to be too down on the team, as after all a victory is a victory, and riding that high should cause the players to play more positively right off the outset. Realistically, what Whitecaps fans should be hoping for is a performance that shows spirit and the drive of the players to make do with what they’ve got.
Predicted Starting XI
I don’t know about this fixture, we’re coming off of a very similar situation that we found ourselves in prior to the last game against LAFC, except this time LA is also riding on a win themselves. While a win was good against Real Salt Lake, it wasn’t through a truly inspiring performance if being completely objective. The lack of discernible style is not something that can be replicated, as every match is different so it’s honestly a toss up to see which version of the Caps take the pitch tomorrow. I think that a 3-0 loss is in the cards for Vancouver, as the rotational players from Bob Bradley’s side are going to be looking for their opportunity to score goals and get regular game time or fashion a move to another team, and thus they’re going to be hungry coming into it. While disappointing, the Whitecaps shouldn’t begin to despair until their playoff hopes begin to fade, which won’t be happening anytime soon.