Teams: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs LA Galaxy
Location: Providence Park, Portland, Oregon
Date and Time: Nov.8th, 6:30 pm EST, 3:30 pm PST
Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)
What to expect
Ladies and gentlemen, the Vancouver Whitecaps’ grisly 2020 season is 90 minutes away to the epilogue. What began in BC Place in what seems like a lifetime ago is now finding its conclusion in Providence Park, and the question on many people’s minds is probably “What is there to play for.” In this special 25th anniversary season, the Whitecaps were sometimes outside of playoffs while being three wins from top of the West, which doesn’t seem like a tough ask yet the team barely kept themselves afloat above the playoff line in a push near the end. The switch to Points per Game to calculate who makes the playoffs threw a wrench in Vancouver’s plans, but even then, it was going to come down to the results of other teams instead of the Whitecaps controlling their own destiny.
I don’t think there is a single article that could perfectly describe how the Whitecaps season has progressed, so we’ll leave the analysis for the future while looking right now at the match at hand: A grudge match to play for pride against the LA Galaxy.
Looking at the LA Galaxy this season could be like looking in a mirror for many Vancouver fans, as the disarray and up and down results that have plagued the Whitecaps this season seem to be reflected on that of their Californian opponents. The problem is that LA has a surefire way to fix their problems, that being ‘throw enough money at enough people until it works’, something the Whitecaps faithful wish that their club would be able to do. Whether its financially viable or not is another question, as LA will constantly be an attraction through name alone thus attracting those big names, while Vancouver hasn’t seized its chance at doing the same.(Location at this point being a moot point due to the success of neighbors Seattle and country rivals Toronto, eliminating both the Northwest and Canadian excuses.) Nevertheless, come decision day, the teams are going to have to work with what they’ve got, and if anything, it looks like it could be an opportunity to see some shining stars for next season.
In general I don’t expect anything too crazy in terms of lineups- although I have been wrong plenty of times before. Marc Dos Santos is in this weird limbo at the moment where he has the freedom to try something new and give younger players a chance. (Much like he did in the game against Seattle) But considering the unease of the fans and his job being on the line, (At least to any sensible employer, in my opinion) he’ll probably put out a strong lineup, even though there’s nothing really to play for.
More likely than not, this is going to be the last time we see many of these Whitecaps players don the white and blue, although I can’t imagine too many tears being shed for many of the Whitecaps personnel considering how polarizing the season was. If any player was to be a guarantee, it would probably have to be left back Ali Adnan, who was the recipient for the Whitecaps’ player of the year award. Adnan has been key in providing crosses for the team when he moves up the field, and I don’t see him not taking the field this weekend bar an injury in training. Cavallini and Montero also look to be shoe-ins, while Baldisimo has risen to be a fan favorite that would leave many scratching their head were he to be excluded from the final match. Everyone else is up in the air.
The LA Galaxy on the other hand recently fired their coach and have come under controversy with their two best players, Cristian Pavon (Space for much needed emphasis so as to make starkly clear the distance between these two players.) and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, due to expiring loans and less than stellar performances. I was going to make a big point about how the biggest goal for the Whitecaps this weekend would be to prevent Chicharito from scoring his second of the season, but Seattle became the unfortunate soul in allowing this to happen, throwing away about three paragraphs of this article’s body. Nothing against the little pea, but given how much fanfare and expectations were given to him, the failure of his season could arguably be worse than that of the Whitecaps’.
Overall, Sunday’s game looks to be an interesting fixture, with an interim manager holding onto a team unsure about its future versus a manager who debatably should be under the hot seat. I wouldn’t read too much into it, as both teams promise to look and perform starkly different come 2021.
Predicted Preferred Starting XI
For either of these teams, I honestly don’t know what to expect. Literally anything could happen and I wouldn’t be surprised. We could have an 8 goal thriller or a 0-0 draw and I wouldn’t bat an eye at either. Tactically things are up in the air as well, the Whitecaps could line up in a 4-3-3, their classic Christmas tree formation, or two at the back with eight strikers and the most it would get out of me would be a “Huh, neat.” Neither of these teams have demonstrated an imposing style of play so pressure will be on both of them to add the cherry on top of a stepped on pie. I’ll give the Whitecaps a 1-0 victory from an own goal after a deflection from their third and last attacking play of the night after allowing LA to take 72% of possession and 13 shots with only 2 on target, as it feels like it would be poetic end to the season for both teams. Oh, and have two penalties taken by Chicharito and Cavallini, both of which are skied over the crossbar, that would complete the game.
At the end of the day, the least we can hope for is an entertaining game so as to show that the team has come a long way from the performances of earlier this year. Through thick and thin, the team needs the fans’ support, and even though personally it feels like I’ve had my heart ripped out stomped on, and more recently, had a band-aid placed on it in an attempt to mend the pain, you bet that I will be glued to the screen watching the team say goodbye to a forgettable season.