Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Nashville SC
Location: GEODIS Park
Date and Time: July 30th, 5:00 pm PST
Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)
How we feeling caps fans?
Champions of Canada has a nice ring to it. After a dour start to the season, the Whitecaps turned their fortunes around in more ways than one, as they fought through the most rounds of any team in the Canadian Championship and took out the Italian All-Star Toronto side. It was a culmination of everything the Whitecaps did well and showed that this team can achieve great things when things come together. Now, as they hunt for a playoff spot to legitimize their ambitions of becoming something greater, Nashville stands tall, threatening to throw them off of their course in this final stretch.
Nashville, being at home are the heavy favourites, having had a pretty even season with wins, losses, and draws being almost as common as each other to the Nashville faithful.
They’ve built a core group of solid players that, while not stealing headlines often, can put in the work to be one of the better teams above the playoff line. Obviously, star player Hany Mukhtar is the shining star in Sound city, clocking in with 15 goals this season (Making him a front runner for an MVP shout), and the German will need to be tested by Cubas and Teibert (Who I assume will be starting in the midfield) otherwise the Whitecaps will find the ball at the back of their net more than they’d like to. Randall Leal is their top assister, so caution needs to be exercised against him as well. A sleeper choice for difference maker on Nashville is CJ Sapong, who’s enjoyed a journeyman career before settling in Nashville, where he’s found his best form. Up there in both the goalscoring and assisting charts, he’s a dynamic player that does his job while not stealing his teammates glamour.
Going up against Nashville’s defense are Cavallini and White, with the former making up for his DP price tag while the latter finally finding some form after a barren spell to start the season. Cavallini eclipses the rest of the teams in goals, but the way he plays isn’t that of someone who makes their own goalscoring opportunities, rather, Cavallini looks to always be there for a tap in or an easy slide into the goal. (Last week’s acrobatics aside). What has helped him achieve these numbers then? That would have to go down to the Whitecaps’ wingers, who are becoming effective on the cross. Godinho, Raposo, and now Gressel have been improving their centralization game and have given the Whitecaps many opportunities to score against unaware opponents, and now the team has to adjust to this playstyle. The pieces are slowly coming together, but I believe that the finished product is close for the Whitecaps side.
Unfortunately, the defenders on Nashville are quite skilled and won’t make the strikers’ jobs any easier, and could even snuff out many chances all together. I think the Whitecaps will be able to carry over some momentum and get a 1-1 draw against Nashville, a crucial point that could make the difference as the playoffs race looms on.