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Pre Match: Whitecaps Take on El Tree

Analyzing Vancouver’s incoming trip to Austin

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Austin FC Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Match Information

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Austin FC

Location: Q2 Stadium

Date and Time: April 23rd, 5:30 pm PST

Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)

Heading into the eight game of the season, the respective rivals today are in completely different spots than they could have expected. The Whitecaps are on a terrible run of form while Austin are mingling with the top of the table. The fortunes of the Whitecaps have been talked to death at this point and there’s not much in terms of suggestions to what can be done to resolve whatever the problem may be in Vancouver.

Sebastian Driussi is on a tear this season, with his five goals being almost as many as the Whitecaps have combined within their games. It seems that everything is clicking for Austin, while for the Whitecaps everyone looks to be on a separate planet. This togetherness is emphasized in Austin’s six players that have more than one assist this season, showing the sync that the players in the Texan side have had. No one is more of an example of this than Diego Fagundez, who has five assists in seven games. He’s not the one to take a shot but when he finds someone in the box, he is extremely effective.

This is what the Whitecaps are going to have to watch out for. They’re going to need to lock down the midfield in a way they haven’t done so in recent games in order to limit the assist and goals from the midfield dynamos of Driussi and Fagundez. A defensive-minded midfielder would be key in this position, and although we are rumoured to be landing exactly that, it’s not coming soon enough. Vanni will need to make the hard choice and not start Teibert in his midfield partnership. Berhalter and Caio should be the ones to begin with that role, and Blackmon, Jungwirth, and Nerwinski should be the back three tasked with cleaning up any player that breaks through that line. As well as this, getting Gutierrez on the starting lineup will bring dividends if he can reach his old level once again. There is much work to be done for the team to be functioning as it did last season, but a good start to it is making sure you don’t lose.

Coincidentally, another problem is the lack of goalscoring output. The experiment with Dajome as a left-back has run its novelty and now the lack of creativity is becoming something to worry about, so putting Dajome in an attacking position will be key if the Whitecaps want to get past six goals. I think Vite has probably earned himself a start as an attacking midfielder to see what sort of spark he can bring to the team. Gauld hasn’t been to the same level so a game of rest to try something new could show something big for the team.

As optimistic as I’d like to be, I don’t think the Whitecaps have quite ironed out their problems, thus I feel as if a 2-0 loss for the Vancouver outfit today.

Eighty Six Forever Staff Picks:

Sam: 3-2 ATX

Caleb: 2-1 ATX

Andrew: 2-0 ATX

Ian: 1-1 DRAW