The Vancouver Whitecaps will look to keep their good run of form going against Real Salt Lake this weekend. The Whitecaps only lost once in the month of May and it was when they were forced to start a kindergartner in goal. The ‘Caps are currently three points back of a playoff spot with a game in hand on every team currently in the playoffs. With the squad finally starting to get health, this could be the time for the embattled club to really make a charge up the table. What could possibly go wrong?
the 2022 Real Salt Lake team was built to answer one question. What if you went to a soccer game and nothing happened? Real Salt Lake have the 16th best expected goals for per game and the 10th best expected goals against. Their top scorer is a three way tie between Sergio Cordova, Bobby Wood, and Justen Glad, all of whom have three. They average only 11 shots per game but also manage to hold their opponents to just 13. When playing on the road, RSL’s shots per game falls below 10 and their expected goals for per game drops to a paltry 1.07. Basically when RSL comes to town, if you are able to score two goals on them, you are basically guaranteed a win.
But scoring two goals on them can be quite tricky. Former Whitecap Zac MacMath is enjoying a bit of a career resurgence, currently sitting 12th in ASA’s the goals saved above expected charts just ahead of Maxime Crepeau and Stafan Frei. The aforementioned Justen Glad is also having an excellent season at centre back.
RSL started off the season in a 3-4-3 but have played most of their games in a 4-2-2-2. The change has paid off as they have the underlying data of a top 10 team over the past month, and their attack has gotten a little bit more dangerous.
However they are missing several key players including Damir Kreilach, Eric Holt, and possibly Anderson Julio.
The Whitecaps, as mentioned above, have been on a bit of a good run lately. The number of high danger chances they are giving up is down significantly (N.B, this is not to say their defence is now good, it’s just that it’s a lot less bad than before) and their offensive numbers are up a bit. With Caio Alexandre, Brian White, Tristan Blackmon, and maybe Ryan Gauld all available for selection this weekend, we could be about to witness the start of things really turning around.
I've got some #VWFC status updates for you: Blackmon and White have rejoined full team training, while Gauld (hamstring) jogged on the pitch and is day-to-day.— Sarita Patel - 'Caps Club Reporter (@SaritaReports) May 31, 2022
Dájome (hamstring), Hasal (hand) and Teibert (eye) remain out for this weekend.@WhitecapsFC | #VWFC pic.twitter.com/Bl6mOILaGp
Or we might not be. The Whitecaps still have quite a lot of problems. Not least of which is their struggles in taking the game to the opposition when they are a little depleted. Vancouver’s attack is also not exactly the deadliest in the league, despite improved play from Lucas Cavallini, so breaking down RSL’s strong defence could be a big challenge for them. This will especially be the case if RSL can snatch an early goal and then park the bus.
But overall I think Vancouver has the slight edge, just by virtue of being the home team and the team starting to get healthy.
Caleb: 2-1 Van
Andrew: 1-1 Draw
Luis 1-1 Draw
Sam: 2-1 RSL
Ian: 2-1 Van