Welcome back, everyone.
After the hype of opening weekend, the Vancouver Whitecaps will be looking to steady the ship this Saturday night with a road win against the San Jose Earthquakes. While there were many positives to take away from the opener, we also know just how crucial home points are in MLS, so there’s a sense in which the Whitecaps are already a little bit on the back foot.
Nonetheless, the trip to San Jose presents an opportunity. The Quakes were dead last in the West last season and allowed a whopping 69 goals against (nice). That being said, they have undergone some major renovations since then, with former FC Dallas boss Luchi Gonzalez taking over and the addition of centre back Jonathan Mensah from Columbus. The Quakes also added two Brazilians through 28-year-old goalkeeper Daniel from Internacional, and 25-year-old centre back Rodrigues from Gremio.
How quickly will this rejuvenated defensive core come together in Gonzalez’s system? It remains to be seen. While San Jose did fall 2-1 on the road in Atlanta last weekend, they were the better team for most of the match and were only bested in extra time by two shots from well outside the area.
Scoring has never been an issue for the Quakes and that was especially true last season when they were a top ten team by most offensive metrics. Jeremy Ebobisse scored 17 goals with only 2 of those coming from the penalty spot, while Cristian Espinoza chipped in with 7 goals and 9 assists. On the opposite wing from Espinoza, pacey youngster Cade Cowell is always a threat.
What does all of this indicate for the Whitecaps? Well, they will need to lock it down in wide areas defensively. If they can accomplish this, however, there should be opportunities to create similar scoring chances to those they created against Real Salt Lake.
In terms of the lineup, I would expect some change at fullback, and possibly in the attacking midfield alongside Gauld. Equally, Sergio Cordova’s fitness is still a big question mark in terms of being ready to start a match. We shall see.
In terms of your predictions, it looks like we were all too optimistic on opening day. While most of the roster should remain predictable, those same lineup unknowns remain from week one. Another consideration is the upcoming champions league match midweek.
Ok, on to rules and standings.
- 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.