Wednesday night at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps will take on York United for a place in the Canadian Championship final. For Vancouver, the pathway looks clear, as a win at home will secure them home-pitch advantage for the Championship match against either Toronto FC or CF Montreal.
Meanwhile, York United has been a struggling side in the Canadian Premier League, having not scored in over a month of league play. Most recently, York played out a 0-0 home result against Pacific FC this past weekend. Currently, York sits 6th of 8 teams in the CPL with 11 points through 11 matches played.
In the cup, York have needed penalties to advance in both of their match ups, first over Athletico Ottawa, and more recently, over the aforementioned Pacific at Starlight Stadium back on May 24th.
York United has been a good defensive team so far this season, and their talent on the back line has been their real calling card. They’re backstopped in goal by Vancouver Whitecaps legend Niko Giantsopoulos, and have been able to boast two of the best fullbacks in the CPL this year with Chrisnovic N’sa and Diyaeddine Abzi. For Abzi, this will be his final match in York United colours as he’s off to greener pastures with Ligue 2 side Pau for the upcoming European season.
Offensively, consistency has been a real problem and the inability to keep players fit has really hurt any attacking chemistry Martin Nash has been trying to build. Someone to watch in this match from York is 21-year-old Max Ferrari. The Ontario native had three goals and four assists in all competitions last year and has gradually developed into a nice player for this York United side. Ferrari has only just returned from injury, but if the CPL side wants a surprise result against Vancouver, they are going to need big contributions from their young attackers.
Flipping to Vancouver, Vanni Sartini has left his options open by resting a number of key players this past weekend. Caio Alexandre and Erik Godoy should both be available for this one, and the same can be said of Ryan Gauld and Brian White, who only had brief showings against FC Dallas. If I had to get my crystal ball out, I’d say that Sartini goes all out attack and plays two strikers up front, so we could see the Cavallini-White partnership, or perhaps a surprise start from Tosaint Ricketts.
Something to keep in mind is that the Whitecaps need three Canadian starters in this match, so Cavallini, Godinho, Raposo and Teibert all look to be prime candidates. This requirement does put a bit more strain on the Whitecaps at the moment with Thomas Hasal still out of the picture between the sticks.
Ultimately, if I am going to prognosticate this match, I can’t see York United having too many answers to what the Whitecaps can throw at them. York already relies heavily on its defending to stay competitive in CPL matches, so if the Whitecaps can score early this one could be over rather quickly. That being said, if York is able to get an early bounce in their favour, or simply stay alive until late in the match, perhaps they can take advantage of some Vancouver nerves and grab a surprise result.
All that being said, I’m going with a comfortable Whitecaps win by a score of 3-0.