While they ultimately ended up dropping two points in an entertaining match against the Colorado Rapids last Saturday, the Vancouver Whitecaps continue their return from the international break as they kick off a lengthy road trip with a visit to Dallas this Wednesday. While they may head into this one feeling slightly disappointed due to the result against the Rapids, they have now picked up points in 8 of their last 9 matches, a pretty stellar haul considering their poor start to the season.
Keeping up that run will not be easy, however, as a tough Dallas FC side awaits them down in Frisco. Dallas is fresh off a huge 3-0 victory at home, as they took out Toronto rather handily right before Vancouver kicked off against Colorado at BC Place. Dallas will be out for revenge against the Caps, as they fell to the blue and white boys on their visit to BC Place just over a month ago, when Ali Adnan and Lucas Venuto scored a pair of pretty goals and the defence held tight for a 2-1 win. While Vancouver is currently feeling the effects of the international break, missing a few players, they appear to have sufficient depth to come out fighting in this one, giving a strong performance and chasing a positive result.
International Absences: Maxime Crepeau (Canada, Gold Cup), Russell Teibert (Canada, Gold Cup), Derek Cornelius (Canada, Gold Cup) Doneil Henry (Canada, Gold Cup), Lass Bangoura (Guinea, Africa Cup of Nations).
Injuries: Jhesser Khemiri (Day-To-Day, Knee) David Norman Jr (Week-To-Week, Foot)
Record: 4W-6L-7D (19 Points)
Marc Dos Santos will likely go with nearly the same 11 for this match, sticking with the crew that had such a strong second half performance after a listless first 30 minutes against Colorado, coming back from down 2-0 to tie things up via some Yordy Reyna magic. Not only that, they showed some qualities rarely seen in BC Place, as they were statistically and visually dominant, with 70 (!) percent possession to go along with 22 shots, including 9 that reached the target. If not for a vintage performance from Tim Howard, they would have definitely left with all three points firmly tucked into their back pocket.
So, they will likely look to continue to build off all that in this one, maybe only changing a few things to keep guys fresh for the derby match that looms against Seattle next Saturday. Scott Sutter is likely to come in for Jake Nerwinski, while PC or Brett Levis might come in on the wing for one of Lucas Venuto or Yordy Reyna. Micheal Baldisimo and Theo Bair might end up getting some minutes, but that will likely come as subs, as MDS will likely come out with a more experienced bunch, leaving the young homegrowns to await their first starts, which will likely come against Cavalry in the Canadian Championship.
The back 4 and keeper will remain settled, however, with Zac MacMath likely expected to pick up his 4th start of the season, unless MDS really goes out a limb and surprises with a Sean Melvin appearance, which would be very surprising. Ali Adnan slots in after an MLS team of the week showing, while Godoy and Rose look to build off a strong last 60 minutes against Colorado for them. Sutter will be expected to continue where he left off after coming in for Jake Nerwinski last match in what was a rare right back for right back swap.
While the last match showed that the Caps look good offensively despite their international absences, defensively they still looked shaky at times, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see another high-scoring game against Dallas. While the backline looked good in those last 60 minutes against the Rapids, Dallas has a potent attack, and Zac MacMath has shown to have suspect handling ability in goal, making his appearances in Between The Sticks (™) a lot more adventurous than they have had to be.
BTSVancity Player to Watch: Ali Adnan
Adnan has provided magic every time he steps on the pitch for Vancouver, so make sure to keep an eye on him in what is his second-to-last match on his loan. With his status about possibly staying remaining up in the air, enjoy every last minute of him while you can, because it may end up coming to an end as of this Saturday.
Also, last time he played Dallas, he scored his first goal in MLS, opening his account with a spectacular effort. He came down the wing with speed, before dropping the shoulder and sending the ball through the defenders legs, getting inside his man before majestically curling the ball past the outstretched palms of Jesse Gonzalez. It was the kind of effort that only he could pull off, and he has shown the kind of difference having a world class full back can have on the offensive side of the equation. Look for him impress going forward once again in this one.
Can the Caps keep their points run going? While they surely would have liked more victories than they currently have at this point in this season, this latest run has certainly been a boost after what was a very slow start to the season. It does not get any easier for the Caps in the next 3 matches either, as Dallas, Seattle and LAFC, the teams who are 4th,3rd and 1st in the West respectively, all waiting on the road for them.
Will the squad be able to handle injuries and the international break? The Caps, while having a deep squad, will be in tough to keep up with the hectic next few weeks as some of their players continue their international campaigns and recover from injuries. With a strong group of teams awaiting them on the road, the Canadian Championship starting next month as well as some fixture congestion the next few weeks, the Caps will be strongly tested both on and off the pitch. Look for a possible transfer target to provide a boost to a depleted squad in the next month or so as the Caps gear up in the hunt for some silverware.
Will there be any fresh faces in the lineup? With Brendan McDonaugh, Theo Bair and Micheal Baldisimo all making the squad last match, could we possibly expect an appearance for the MLS Super Draft Pick McDonaugh or the two academy graduates in Bair and Baldisimo? It would be as good as an opportunity as ever, especially against the academy darlings of MLS, Dallas.
Manager: Luchi Gonzalez
Record: 7W-6L-4D (25 Pts)
Dallas has shown to be a model of consistency in MLS. Despite losing loads of talent each season, their academy has proven to be stable in terms of consistently pumping out top young talent, which they do a great job of integrating in with their veteran players, allowing them to churn out prospects while remaining competitive in league play. While they have yet to win an MLS Cup, their approach is applauded all around MLS. We see this in their current squad, who has some top young talent like Paxton Pomykal, Edwin Cerillo, Jesus Ferreira and Brandon Servania, who are all 20 and under, paired with MLS veterans like Micheal Barrios, Dominique Badji, Matt Hedges, Reto Ziegler and Jesse Gonzalez, giving them a good team while growing those youngsters with the tremendous experience they receive. .
Plus, Dallas is never fun to play at home, as they have one of the most intimidating venues in all of MLS. Due to their humid heat, teams struggle to pick up points off Dallas, as the mugginess often wears teams down quick, allowing for Dallas to impose themselves on the away sides. Vancouver was one of the teams that truly struggled against them, as they were unable to adapt to the conditions, until they finally seemed to break through the last few seasons, including a commanding 4-0 victory 2 seasons ago that signalled that they were no longer going to accept Dallas’s dominance at Toyota Stadium. But, Dallas remains as dangerous as ever in front of their faithful, so expect a good fight from them as they look to continue what has been a surprisingly strong season, despite many experts having them fall outside the playoff bubble after the loss of their manager Oscar Pareja last season, who had been excellent in his 5 seasons in charge.
That match kicks off tomorrow at 6pm, so make sure you find your way home or to wherever you will be watching, in time to watch these teams battle it out in Dallas. It’s always tough with these midweek affairs, due to work and traffic, but it’ll be a nice repose before the rest of the week kicks off. The second half of the MLS season also kicks off for Vancouver in this one, so every match from this point on will be extremely meaningful as they look to get back in the playoff hunt.
June 25th, 2019, Whitecaps FC vs Dallas FC, Toyota Stadium, 18:00 PST.