Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Columbus Crew SC
Location: Lower.com Field
Date and Time: Feb.26th, 3:30 pm EST, 12:30 pm PST
Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)
It’s that time of year again, hopes riding on speculations and predictions running wild. The start of a new MLS season is always exciting, as you get rid of the painful memories of seasons past while optimistically looking for a way that your team may just be lucky enough to take it all the way this year. In the case of the Vancouver Whitecaps, last season was one to remember for multiple reasons, with a playoff appearance coming after a four year absence along with a real number 10 playmaker coming into the team. Hopes are high that the team can build off of this and enter a new era of prosperity rarely felt by the Whitecaps faithful.
A quiet offseason is usually something to worry about, but in the case of the ‘Caps, it seems to point to the current crew getting much closer with each other and building chemistry. There have been many reports that claim that the team is very happy to be playing together and is ready to hit the ground running when the opening whistle blows. That’s not to say there haven’t been any additions to the squad, as a number of sensible transfers have bolstered the Whitecap’s depth in places where they may have needed some.
This newly found synergy, if indeed is as strong as we have been led to believe, could be enough to cover the few negatives that transpired over the off-season (The sale of Max Crépeau being chief amongst them). Even with the playoff run last season, people still seem to underestimate the Whitecaps, and that could be easily played in their advantage. Many may not seem to recall, but closing out the season, Vancouver had one of the best records in the league through the final stretch of games. The Whitecaps are tied 22nd in odds for winning the MLS Cup so they can certainly be perceived as underdogs.
This will help them when facing their opponents, Columbus Crew SC. The 2020 MLS Cup champions had a dramatic falloff the following season, missing out on playoffs altogether. The Crew lost a lot of defensive players this offseason, so the Whitecaps may be able to exploit the newly formed back line. It’s something easier said than done since while their defense may be weaker than previous season, their attack covers it completely with star players such as Gyasi Zardes and Zelarayan providing an attacking threat within MLS. The key to this game will be snuffing out the attack and catching the defense quick counter to take advantage of a defense that may need some more time to gel.
I think it’s okay to be optimistic about the Whitecaps’ chances this game, as the Crew is not as scary as they were two years ago. Given the synergy of this team, I’ll be optimistic and say a 1-0 victory is in the cards for the team from Vancouver.
Eighty Six Forever Staff Picks:
Caleb: 1-1 DRAW
Ian: 2-1 CLB
Andrew: 2-1 CLB
Sam: 1-1 DRAW