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Guess the Starting XI - Season Opener vs. RSL

It’s time! Another year of the Guess the Starting XI contest kicks off in style with the home opener against Real Salt Lake.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Real Salt Lake Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back everyone.

If you’re new to the contest or the site, welcome! This is our lineup and score prediction contest we run here at Eighty Six Forever, so feel free to get involved!

I hope you’re all looking forward to another season of the Guess the Starting XI contest as much as I am. A new season is another opportunity to start from a blank slate and after early season struggles last year, the Vancouver Whitecaps will be looking to hit the ground running in 2023 against RSL on Saturday night at BC Place.

Real Salt Lake snuck into the playoffs last season despite scoring just 43 goals and having a -2 goal difference. Overall, this is a team that is happy to sit in a low block and see what they can do with the chances they are given. Notably, their leading scorer last year, Sergio Cordova, is now a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Equally, RSL lost another key cog of their squad this off-season with Aaron Herrera moving to CF Montreal.

It’s not all bad news for RSL though. After playing just 5 matches in 2022 due to injury, Damir Kreilach looks ready to go for the start of 2023, having started most of RSL’s pre-season matchups. RSL also added Colombian winger Andres Gomez, who has the pace to provide a dynamic attacking threat alongside Jefferson Savorino in wide areas. Will Salt Lake fill the net in 2023? Probably not, but it’s also not crazy to say that they should be better than last year, at least in attack.

In terms of the Whitecaps, I would expect their lineup this season to be much more predictable than the first 1.5 years under Vanni Sartini, good news for you! Key spots to watch for on opening day are few and far between in terms of open competitions. However, the three spots that could generate some tough choices are Goalkeeper, Fullback, and Striker.

I would expect Yohei Takaoka to start for Vancouver but given his recent introduction to the squad, there’s always a chance we see Thomas Hasal between the sticks on Saturday. Something similar can be said for the aforementioned Sergio Cordova at striker. While he is obviously the first choice option, Brain White may still start Saturday as the new addition integrates to the squad. Finally, fullback is a completely open competition with a number of potential options, although I imagine that Luis Martins is the favourite at the moment, followed closely by Ryan Raposo.

Ok, now on to some housekeeping. The rules for 2023 will stay much the same as last year, unless there are significant objections. It’s also worth noting that we will have a multitude of competitions to handle this year, so I’m open to suggestions for how we should deal with that. Here are the rules for week to week proceedings:

  • Predictions will be ‘valid’ if posted HERE (or more accurately, whichever is the correct match thread) before the lineup is officially announced, usually about an hour before kickoff.
  • You receive 1 point for every player you correctly guess to be in the Starting XI. You receive 4 bonus points for correctly predicting all 11 starters.
  • You get 5 points for correctly guessing Win/Lose/Draw, this doubles to 10 if you also predict the right score-line along with the result.
  • All this means, if you correctly predict the Starting XI, Final Score, and Winner, you can earn 25 points!
  • At the end of each half, the contestant’s lowest two scores of that period will be deducted from the cumulative standings.

As a further administrative note, there will be some changes to the website over the coming months as we transition away from our relationship with SB Nation and Vox media. Rest assured that we will be doing everything we can to make this transition as seamless as possible. We’ll keep you updated when there are any significant changes that might alter Guess the Starting XI, but things should remain largely the same.

Good luck everyone and enjoy the home opener!