With some positive vibes and that vital first victory firmly tucked into their back pocket, the Vancouver Whitecaps head across the continent to Orlando, where they will face the struggling Orlando City SC. Despite having some potent attacking talent with the likes of Luis Nani, Dom Dwyer and Sacha Kljestan, they have struggled to tighten things up at the back, shipping goals left and right. With Vancouver looking to build up some offensive confidence after only scoring 2 goals in their last 4 matches, they will look to tear that Orlando backline apart and have an offensive explosion, kickstarting their confidence and giving them some belief heading into the second portion of the season.
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)
The Caps will likely see some heavy rotation in this one, as recovery remains a question mark for many players as they play the 3rd match in 8 days. Maxime Crepeau will likely get the start, but Zac MacMath could be ready to fill in as he returns to his hometown team. Scott Sutter will tuck in at right back, as he makes a return to the team that traded him only a few months ago. Erik Godoy and Doneil Henry will likely stick together in the middle, coming off the clean sheet against LAFC, but Derek Cornelius may feature if any of them feel any tightness or fatigue. Ali Adnan will likely hold his spot, but look for Brett Levis to potentially make his season debut to give him a rest. It’s in the other spots where we are likely to see some more changes, as we may see the debut of a two-striker system after having both Fredy Montero and Joaquin Ardaiz sit out the last match as Marc Dos Santos experimented with a false-nine in the 4-3-3, deploying Yordy Reyna up top. Underneath them, we may see a 4-man midfield, with Felipe and Erice playing in the middle. Out wide, we will likely see Lass Bangoura on the right with one of Hwang, PC or Venuto filling in depending on what Dos Santos craves. It’s a hard one to project, so it is entirely possible the Caps roll out with something completely different.
BTSVancity Players to Watch:
For this one, we will select two players, as the two former Orlando City lads are the ones to watch as they return to the team that let them go after a historically bad season last year. PC and Sutter have filled in admirably so far for Vancouver. They have been solid roster depth and can provide different looks for Dos Santos depending on the match and the opponent. PC has had some solid efforts at goal, including his dipping effort that led to the Hwang goal the last match, so it would be nice to see some of his good performances rewarded with some more offence.
Honourable mentions: Erik Godoy, Lass Bangoura
The Whitecaps have a lot of confidence heading into this one, as they picked up that crucial first victory, beating league leaders LAFC. A second victory would put them right back into the playoff hunt in the West, leaving the likes of Portland, San Jose and Colorado in the rearview mirror.
The Whitecaps continue to have the most punishing travel schedule in MLS, as they turned right around after their home match on Wednesday, flying to the opposite side of the continent for an early Saturday match. While it’s the nature of the sport, it’s tough to see Vancouver victimized with schedule quirks such as this one.
Orlando City SC:
Manager: James O’Connor
Orlando has been a mixed bag so far this season, putting along with middling results despite having some premier MLS attacking talent, including Sacha Kleijstan, Luis Nani, Dom Dwyer, Joao Moutinho, Tesho Akindele and more. While these guys have proven themselves to be solid creators and goal scorers, they are let down by a porous defence and suspect keeping, leaving them a lot lower in the standings than a team of their nature should be. They have been a lot better this year than last, where they were only better than historically bad San Jose and a terrible Colorado outfit, but they have a ways to go until they are the team most expect them to be. There are some connections to Caps and Canada with this one, with last year’s keeper, Brian Rowe, expected to start as well as Canadian internationals Will Johnson and Tesho Akindele. Orlando should give the Caps a chance to score some goals, hopefully improving their confidence offensively, something that they clearly need.
Alex: 2-1 Vancouver: Erik Godoy, Hwang for Vancouver, Dwyer for Orlando
Karim: 1-1: Akindele and Reyna
Keveren: 3-1 Vancouver, Reyna, Adnan and Bangoura for Vancouver, Nani for Orlando
Jan: 1-1, Nani and Montero
Bryan: 2-1, Hwang Brace, Brian Rowe for Orlando