Vancouver hosts Cavalry on Wednesday night in the second leg of the Voyageurs Cup Quarterfinals. Disappointing results in the MLS have put heightened emphasis on this match for the Whitecaps, while Cavalry will come galloping in full of confidence. If there was any doubt that Cavalry would be able to keep up with an opponent from a higher league, it was quickly erased after the first leg when the teams played an even game in Calgary. The other Voyageurs Cup results also showed that the gap between the two leagues is not a comfortable one. Add the fact that Cavalry is coming off of three straight league victories and it becomes a tie difficult to predict.
On July 10th these two teams played to a 0-0 tie at Spruce Meadows. It was one of those first legs where both teams were waiting for the second leg to decide it. The game tilted in Cavalry’s favour in the later stages, but the ‘Caps had a couple of great opportunities off set pieces. Here’s what both squads are looking like heading into this week’s decider.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC:
Form in all competitions: L-D-L-L-L
Manager: Marc Dos Santos
“It’s almost like a nightmare that’s never ending” is how Doneil Henry put it. This is one of the worst runs of form the club has been on in its MLS history, and everyone can feel it. Switching attention to a different competition might offer the much-needed freshness of a still blank slate. Not only do the Whitecaps need to win this match to stay alive in the competition, a victory would remediate a lot of the heavy feelings within the team.
Injuries: Jhesser Khemiri (Knee), David Norman Jr. (Foot)
Here’s how I think the team will look on Wednesday. After lining up his team in a 3-5-2 for a stretch of games, Marc Dos Santos returned to an adaptation of the 4-3-3 last weekend. Expect the side to line-up in the same formation on Wednesday.
Player fitness is definitely a concern as Vancouver will have played six matches in 19 days come Wednesday. After last game Dos Santos said, palms facing up, “Every three days we have a game”, and he’s not far from the truth. The biggest cause of the issues, however, is a lack of depth. The pool of players Dos Santos is choosing from doesn’t allow for much rotation which has resulted in many players having logged minutes in several consecutive games in this stretch.
Ardaiz, Venuto, Felipe and Sutter did not start against San Jose, so they should be relatively fresh and provide the squad with some juice. Crépeau, Henry, Teibert and Bair would make up the Canadian content. Remember three Canadians are required to start in this competition.
BTSVancity Player to Watch: Yordy Reyna
Reyna has been the most lively player lately. He has been playing a lot but hopefully he’s in good enough form to come out again in this one and bring a spark up front. He linked up well with Ali Adnan in the first leg, so look for them two to play together on the left flank once again.
All eggs in the Voyageurs Cup
The loaded schedule was supposed to be a way to quickly climb back up the Western Conference standings, but instead has seen them plunge out of the picture. With the playoffs now a distant hope, the Canadian Championship remains the only competition where the club has a real chance. This is what makes Wednesday’s match so important. A loss could drain out all hope of competitive football this season, while a victory would keep them alive in the hunt for some silverware.
Some have already started looking ahead to next season. One thing that would make it a lot more exciting would be participation in the Champions League. The Voyageurs Cup is the path to the continental competition, which adds all the more pressure on Wednesday night.
Form in all competitions: L-W-D-W-W
Manager: Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
While the ‘Caps have been on a downward spiral, Cavalry has kept climbing. They’ve picked up a pair of one-nil wins since the last time these teams met two weeks ago. They most recently topped York9 at home on Sunday. That means that they have one day less rest than Vancouver and have to make the trip to the west coast in that time.
Injuries: Joel Waterman, Dominique Malonga
Although Tommy Wheeldon Jr. likes to have some fluidity in his formations, look for him to line up his side line up with the same 3-4-3 he used in the first leg. Expect for Wheeldon Jr. to slot in Jay Wheeldon, his brother, back into central defense after resting him on Sunday. The experienced Ledgerwood should be back in the starting 11 wearing the captain’s armband. There’s some added intrigue at the front end of the pitch, as the Whitecaps have been rumoured to be interested in Sergio Camargo.
Player to watch: Nico Pasquotti
The forward possesses plenty of pace and was a problem for the Whitecaps in their meeting at Spruce Meadows. He should be central to Cavalry’s attack in the return fixture and one the ‘Caps have their eye on. “Pasquotti is the guy that I have in my mind” said Maxime Crépeau on Monday.
Second Leg Scenarios:
The team that wins this match qualifies for the Semi-finals. It’s that simple. Where it gets more interesting is if the game ends in a tie. A draw where goals are scored would send Cavalry through as they would have the advantage on away goals. This means that if the Calgary-based team scores one, the Whitecaps must score two. A goalless draw would result in extra-time, and if necessary, a penalty shoot-out to decide the tie. Keep in mind that if the game does go to extra-time, the away goals rule will still be in effect, meaning that like in normal time, a tie of a score of at least 1-1 would have the Cavalry victorious. If the extra-time period were to remain scoreless, then penalties would follow.
“They had horses on the field prior to the game”Maxime Crépeau
The pitch at Spruce Meadows was worked in by an equestrian competition prior to the first leg which made it difficult to control the ball for both teams. It appeared to work more into Cavalry’s blue collar style of play, however. Crépeau and co. are happy to be playing on a familiar surface for this one, so don’t be surprised if it even changes the way both teams approach the match.
On Saturday BC Place was as empty as we’ve seen it this season. It got even emptier when Eriksson scored to make it 3-1. Marc Dos Santos stayed for a long time following the final whistle thanking fans for their support. He knows that if things don’t change soon, the numbers will keep dropping. Wednesday night Canadian Championship fixtures have not been the best attended historically. In an effort to fill the lower bowl, the club has given some holders of ticket packages a complementary pair of seats for Wednesday’s game. For those of you who don’t yet have tickets, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding one.
Qualifying Round 3 – Leg 2
July 24th, 2019:
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Cavalry FC, 19:36 PT, BC Place
ONLINE: OneSoccer.ca – RADIO: TSN Radio 1040
Other Voyageurs Cup matches:
Ottawa Fury FC vs. HFX Wanderers FC, 16:30 PT, TD Place
Montreal Impact FC vs. York9 FC, 16:30 PT, Saputo Stadium