Teams: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Montreal Impact
Location: BC Place, Vancouver
Date and Time: September 16th, 9:30 pm EST, 6:30 pm PST
Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)
What to expect
Following Sunday’s explosive Canadian derby vs the Impact, the Whitecaps have to do some serious soul searching and tactical analysis in order to spoil Montreal’s Canadian Championship hopes. Their positive result against Toronto seems like a lifetime ago and things will only begin to get harder now that they will be playing what are basically all away games in Oregon once they play Wednesday’s match. Thus it is important that they stick the landing and get all three points in what could be their last game on Canadian soil this season.
The emotional end to the previous game left the game finished with one player suspended for each team, but the severity of the loss affects one team a massive amount more than the other. The Vancouver Whitecaps’ record DP signing Lucas Cavallini picked up a red card and thus is ruled out for the foreseeable future, leading to the Whitecaps’ lone surviving DP being the left back Ali Adnan.
Even though Cavallini had only scored a single goal (And missed two pens) on the run up to his expulsion, his work rate and quality can not be denied, and his absence leaves a hole in the Whitecaps lineup which none of their current players perfectly fit.
It will be interesting to see how Marc Dos Santos lines up the team for this game. Seeing the patterns of the previous game, it would be safe to assume that he would favor a two striker lineup with Bair more than likely being guaranteed. That leaves the burning question of which player can compliment Bair and cover for his shortcomings; could we see the return of Reyna as a starter? Montero? Reports claim that while available, Tosaint Ricketts will be on the bench for tomorrow’s game, so that leaves a relatively thin line of who could play in the position.
Tactically, the Whitecaps have begun to click more than ever before, albeit for short spurts in every game. When they look good, they look like a team that pushes for playoffs, but when they don’t, they look more like contenders for the wooden spoon. Unfortunately, the latter is more often than not the reality with the Whitecaps, but the fact that something is there should provide some respite to the disappointing turnout to this season.
With not many games left to play, and a fanbase desperately seeking any sort of positive turnaround for the Caps, it’s really now or never for many players who wish to stick with the team longer than this season, and it will be easy to see those who are more interested in the season ending than in putting forth their best performances.
Montreal has a place in the Canadian Championship final along with the chance to represent Canada in continental play on the line, so it would be hard to imagine them not taking this game extremely seriously with all guns firing. Vancouver will have to catch them unexpectedly (Which they are very good at, mind you.) in order to claw out a victory that is doubly sweet.
Predicted Starting XI
The Whitecaps have a lot to address for this match, managing not only injuries, but also suspension. If they play their cards right, and their replacement players have a big game, then a draw or a victory could be on the cards. They just have to turn on the intensity which they very well have for the entire 90 minutes rather than 10-15 minute bursts. At this point, there is not much of the season left, so it wouldn’t be realistic to expect a drastic change of play and tactics. We have to make the most of what is offered, and hope that real change isn’t just a front for the offseason. For this game though, I could see a 0-0 draw play out, as I think the Whitecaps will play a bit more defensively with the loss of Cavallini along with wanting to guarantee a point from their last outing at BC Place (For now).