The Vancouver Whitecaps continue to look for their first victory of the season, after they dropped a 1-0 lead in the 83rd minute in Chicago on Friday, as they ended up drawing the match 1-1 after leading most of the second half. Despite it being a useful point gained on the road, many fans felt hard done by as the game was in their hands until another VAR decision gave Chicago a chance to equalize late. While the Caps were poor on the evening, a victory would have given them some confidence heading into this monumental clash, as they face an unstoppable LAFC side on Wednesday. With Carlos Vela and co playing out of their collective minds, it would be hard to imagine the Caps picking up their first 3 points of the Marc Dos Santos era in this one. But as this sport has showed time and time again, anything can happen, so the Caps head into this one optimistic and with their heads up, as they look to get some momentum going after some unlucky results.
Injuries: Jhesser Khemiri (Knee, Week-to-Week), Andy Rose (Facial Fractures, Week-To-Week), Micheal Baldisimo (Ankle, Week-To-Week), David Norman Jr (Foot, Month-To-Month)
Dos Santos has played a lot more narrow in recent weeks, deploying 4 central midfielders, with Hwang being deployed wide but playing centrally. The experiment has had its moments, but they will likely return to a more traditional 4-3-3 in this one. This lineup is a hard one to project, as we do not know how much he will factor the match 3 days after in Orlando, but you would have to expect something close to a full-strength lineup to avoid getting blown out by LA. Maxime Crepeau has been good, so he will likely stay in, while the back 4 in front of him had solid performances, making the decision easier for MDS. The midfield can go either way, but expect Felipe alongside regulars Hwang and Jon Erice, as he has looked good since being reinserted in the lineup after a poor start. It is possible Russell Teibert starts as well, as he would bring some more tenacity, but Felipe has the upper hand for now. Up front, there are a lot of question marks, as there are many options. Here I went with Ardaiz, Bangoura and Venuto, which has a lot of pace and can stretch out LA, but Dos Santos may go with another approach, potentially keeping Fredy Montero and Yordy Reyna in, which would mean starting the attacks a lot deeper, but either way, it could be a surprise. Dos Santos obviously knows LAFC very well, so he may have the best idea in how to exploit the Goats very solid backline.
BTSVancity Player to Watch:
We tip our cap to Uruguayan Joaquin Ardaiz in this one, as he has looked good in every appearance so far. He gets himself into good situations, often through hard work and good instincts, so it would be a great time for some of those chances he creates to turn into goals. Against a solid LAFC defence, he may be the wildcard needed to break them down and get some goals on the board. He should be up for this one.
Honourable mentions: Ali Adnan, Maxime Crepeau
Another match, another VAR. Oh how the Caps would love to leave this one without that happening……
After a poor display in Chicago, how will the Caps manage their new style of play against the top team in MLS? They have shown flashes of how they can play, but it’s time to put it together for more than 30 minutes and create some goals out of it. This match will be as good of a time as any to get some confidence and show fans how they can play, especially in light of the off-field controversy that has reached global levels now, with supporters groups now planning protests for the match tomorrow. While the fans are more concerned with the Front Office, the team on the field performing will allow them to build some confidence and have a nice bubble around them as the Front Office deals with loads of scrutiny.
Manager: Bob Bradley
LAFC has become the latest expansion darlings of MLS, putting in a great season last year and following it up with a crazy start to this one. With 19 points from a possible 21, Bob Bradley’s outfit have not been one to mess with so far. With early MVP candidate Carlos Vela playing out of his mind, they have been racking up goals for fun so far. They provide many different threats, with Christian Ramirez, Diego Rossi, Latif Blessing and Canadian Mark-Anthony Kaye all providing various threats going forward. That is out without mentioning striker Adama Diomande, who is currently struggling with a hamstring problem. Despite all that firepower, they have kept things tight at the back as well, leading the league with only 5 goals against in 7 matches. Walker Zimmerman and Eddie Segura have formed a solid partnership, with MLS veterans and former Whitecaps Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour shoring up the flanks. They also have a good goalkeeper if things are to go wrong, with Tyler Miller backstopping the squad. Their squad has run rampant over many challengers all season, leaving many to wonder if the single-season points record can be beaten for a 3rd year standing. While it may be hard to keep this run going all season, but for now, it has been a marvel to watch them break apart teams with their entertaining style and solid defence.
On facing former assistant Dos Santos: “Marc is an excellent coach and a great guy, we got to know him and we all have confidence in his work, obviously the start of the season has been difficult, but he’s been through tough situations when he’s coached at different teams”
On Dos Santos as a coach: “Marc came to us with a real set way, great methodology, a great understanding of training loads, and his teams have always been really well organized, so what I see from Vancouver is all of the Marc Dos Santos traits, his team is very organized, good structure”
On Dos Santos potentially knowing his team well: “We still have football ideas that are based upon decision-making and reading situations. We’re not a team that has this one script that just gets thrown out there all the time”
On the Cincinnati game they just played: “I think you always need reminders if they don’t cost you anything, but I think in DC we had however many goals we had, we had chances and we were clinical in those moments, and I think we had a ton of chances in the Cincinnati game and we weren’t as clinical and you saw, 1-0 and we had to scrap for 90 minutes”
On facing Vancouver: “They were just getting guys in the team when we played them in preseason, I remember some of them didn’t even play in that preseason match, so I think it’ll be completely different, they’ve kind of been building throughout the first period of this season and so finally I think they probably have all their players in for choice, so depending on that lineup I think it’ll be a tough game”
Alex: 4-2 LAFC, Goals for Ramirez, Vela, Rossi and Blessing, Ardaiz and Hwang for Vancouver
Karim: 3-1 LAFC, 2x Vela and 1 for Rossi, Ardaiz for the Caps.
Keveren: 2-1 LAFC, Vela and Rossi for LA, Montero for Caps
Jan: 3-1 LAFC, Vela x2 and Rossi, Lass Bangoura for caps.