After picking up the first point in the Marc Dos Santos era, the Vancouver Whitecaps look to continue where they left off against the high-flying Seattle Sounders with a big result at home against LA Galaxy. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic appearing to be fit for LA, Vancouver’s defence will have a handful to deal with once again after dealing with the Sounder had to offer. It will be a nice Friday night match for Vancouver, so it will be interesting how many people make their way to BC Place to watch the Caps take on one of MLS’s marquee franchises. Should be a fun one to watch.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Injuries: Jhesser Khemiri (Knee, Week-to-Week), Andy Rose (Facial Fractures, Week-To-Week), Micheal Baldisimo (Ankle, Day-To-Day)
Once again there are not many changes expected from the Seattle match. Maxime Crepeau will stay in after picking up his first MLS Clean Sheet, while the backline appears sorted after looking rather cohesive against Seattle. Ali Adnan had a standout performance at left back, along with Doneil Henry and Erik Godoy shoring up the middle of the park, so look for another big game from those 3. Jake Nerwinski looked better, but he can still improve on what he has done so far, so he should take another step forward as he finds his feet this season. Jon Erice maintains his starting spot, as he has been key for the Marc Dos Santos system and has played decently. Hwang Inbeom likely draws back in after missing out on a starting spot last week due to international duty fatigue and Felipe likely draws in alongside him, as Teibert’s shoulder situation is unclear, and MDS appears to like Felipe for home matches. Out wide, Yordy Reyna will likely draw back in as well, after recovering from his international stint with Peru. Lucas Venuto will likely slot back in on the other side, as he was electric coming off the bench against Seattle. Lass Bangoura has been solid, but he lacked that spark last week, continuing the trend of the guy coming on bringing a lot more than whoever starts. I would like to see both Venuto and Bangoura on together one game, with Reyna deployed centrally, so it would interesting to see if MDS decides to try something like that in the near future. Montero likely slots in, but do not be surprised if Ardaiz picks up a start to bring some size in against LA after performing well in spot duty.
BTSvancity player to watch:
Yordy Reyna gets the honours for this one, the first regular from last year to do so. So far we’ve chosen Lass Bangoura, Jon Erice, Hwang Inbeom and Maxime Crepeau, so today we give some love to someone who was a key contributor to last years attack. Reyna has started a little slower than hoped, so look for him to have a big match in front of the home supporters after a decent outing representing his country. He is due for a big performance, so keep an eye on him for this one.
Honourable Mentions: Doneil Henry, Ali Adnan
The biggest for many fans appears to be #ZlatanWatch, as many Vancouver fans do not expect the famous Swedish talisman to suit up on Friday, as he did not feature much on turf last year due to knee problems. He says the knee problem is behind him now, and that he’ll likely play Friday, but most fans will not believe it until the ball kicks off at approximately 19:08 PST on April 5th, 2019, with him on the field in the LA Galaxy strip. While him missing out would be a boost for the Caps, it would be good to have him in for LA and for the league since he brings a lot to the match with his skills and his personality.
The other will be how the Caps defence holds up, after picking up their long-awaited clean-sheet. Will Doneil Henry keep up his great form alongside Erik Godoy? Will Ali Adnan continue to shine after a strong opening act? Will Jake Nerwinski find some of his form after a poor start? Can Maxime Crepeau put in another solid outing at the back? Can the midfield do enough to help out the backline? It will be interesting to see how they cope with Zlatan, who brings a unique skill set with his height and skill.
VAR watch continues as well this week for Vancouver, after another decision sunk them last week. While it was the correct one, Caps fans are desperate for anything to go their way after some trying times the first few weeks.
Manager: Guillermo Barros Scheletto
Ibrahimovic appears recovered from his injury woes, scoring 2 last week against Portland. Barring something in training, he looks ready to start and take on the Caps, after scoring a brace against them last year. Romain Alessandrini has torched the Caps many times over the years, as he as well recovers from an injury. Jonathan Dos Santos and Stephen Lteget are a very solid tandem, with Joe Corona putting in good work playing below Ibrahimovic. The backline is solid, playing all 4 matches and picking up 1 clean sheet, allowing 4 goals total. The team looks good so far this year, as they look to bounce back after narrowly missing out on the playoffs last year. Vancouver vs LA at home has produced some good matches over the years, and with Ibrahimovic on a football pitch, anything can happen. After the whole Giovanni Dos Santos debacle in the offseason that involved getting rid of Ola Kamara to China, the Galaxy have to be pleased with how things have started, and hope everyone stays healthy as they chase a playoff spot.
On getting a point Saturday: “It was important, to get a moment that was positive when it comes to results. Don’t get me wrong, we want to win games, but it was a positive moment compared to the 3 losses we had”
On how his team defended against Seattle: “If everyone’s committed in the defensive organization, it makes everybody better. I think the front three defended well, the midfield defended well, and that affected the backline for sure. For a backline to grow you need consistency”
On everyone’s favourite subject: “We’re first place in MLS of VAR for sure, its frustrating for sure. I don’t want to win the VAR cup at the end of the year (…) It’s not part of football anymore, I think VAR comes along, its like if you marry this girl that has a cat, the cats coming with the girl. VAR is part of it now, you have to stick with it, VAR Is part of our lives”
“Mentality. I think we were all clued in, I think we all knew what we had to do. Besides that, I think everyone understands their roles individually and collectively we worked as a team”
“Games, the more games the better it becomes. I think we’re in a good spot right now. We just got to continue to knock out clean sheets with Max (Crepeau) and with the others guys collectively and as a group, we just get some points”
“You know what he brings to the table, he’s a quality player. He’s a player who can hurt you and damage in a second, in a blink of an eye. (We) respect what he brings to the game, but we still focus on ourselves and what we need to bring”
On his injury “I feel good, I recovered good (…)No consequences on my issue I had a couple of weeks ago”
On playing in Vancouver: “I just go in and play the game, from there we see what happens. I cannot focus different or change anything because even if it’s on turf I have to keep what I am doing and prepare in the way I always do”
Thoughts on turf: “It’s common to play on turf, even if I don’t like it. It’s an easy way to save money, but it’s not about money it’s about the quality, and the quality is on grass”
On Zlatan: “I saw him pretty good, I think he will be better than last game. (…). I think about last game, 2 goals, the level he showed us gives him a little confidence”
On the Caps: “You never know what teams will play against us, Portland played 5 at the back, (yet) all season they have played 4 at the back (…). (Vancouver) plays 4 at the back, 3 in the middle, 3 in front, they have Montero, a really good player (…) I prefer to talk about our team than others, with a lot of respect to Vancouver or any other team”
Alexandre: 2-0 Caps, Reyna and Adnan the scorers.
Karim: 2-1 LA, Ibrahimovic and Corona for LA, Ardaiz for Vancouver
Keveren: 1-1, Ibrahimovic for LA, Inbeom for Vancouver
Jan: 2-2, Bangoura and Ardaiz for Vancouver, Ibrahimovic and Alessandrini for LA.
Felix: 2-1 Vancouver, Felipe and Bangoura scoring for the Caps, Alessandrini for LA
Bryan: 2-1 Vancouver, Adnan and Hwang for Vancouver, Ibrahimovic for LA