Teams: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Montreal Impact
Location: Stade Saputo, Montreal
Date and Time: August 21st, 7:00 pm EST, 4:00 pm PST
Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)
What to expect
The Caps managed a bit better performance Friday against Toronto FC, better anyway than their dismal outing in the midweek against the same opponent. They weren’t good by any stretch of the imagination (outpossessed 67 percent to 32, outshot 14 to 6) but the stability in the back which was largely absent in round one of their fixtures against TFC returned to some extent.
One would expect that the slight improvements from the squad Friday will give MDS all the rationale he needs to stick with a similar 5-3-2 lineup, with perhaps some small tweaks in personnel (I for one would be OK with taking a pass on Toss Ricketts tonight). Yordy Reyna returning from suspension will probably mean he is back in the lineup.
The upshot for the Caps is they miss out on Toronto, one of the best teams in the league, and get Montreal, a squad which is looking for answers almost as much as the Caps are. Sure, they nicked a sweaty 1-0 win off DC United in Orlando, allowing them to advance to the quarterfinals, where they were promptly dispatched by Orlando City SC.
But make no mistake, Thierry Henry is still grasping for a tactical identity with this team. The offense, which has been noticeably creaky, was largely silent in Orlando, minus one three-goal game against Toronto (which they lost anyway). Henry’s propensity thus far to tinker with tactics probably hasn’t helped this.
Romell Quioto and Saphir Taider remain the most potent attacking options they have. To be sure, Samuel Piette and Victor Wanyama looked solid in MLS is Back, and helped the team keep control of the ball but the final product was just never there. That bodes well for the Caps, who just faced an absolute firing squad the last two matches.
The bad news for Montreal is their brightest defender, Luis Binks, is going to Bologna on loan. The bad news for the Caps is this won’t happen until the first of the year, meaning he will be in the lineup. Rod Fanni and both fullbacks looked vulnerable in Orlando, however, meaning the Caps will have chances to exploit Montreal on the counter, which will presumably be MDS’ tactical message.
I’m so pessimistic about the Caps at this point I have a hard time picking a win. That being said, Montreal haven’t been especially good either and seem to set up a bit better for sitting back and attempting forays on the counter. The return of Reyna will likely help in this regard as well. While I can’t guarantee that Vancouver will be good Tuesday night, I do think they’ll be good enough to earn a 1-1 draw.