Minnesota Must-Win: Vancouver Whitecaps preparing for their biggest game of the season vs Minnesota United at BC Place on Wednesday

The Vancouver Whitecaps are getting set to take on Minnesota United at BC Place in a massive game for both teams’ playoff hopes on Wednesday. Here’s our preview ahead of that one. 

It might very well be their biggest game of the season. 

With just 3 games remaining in their 2021 MLS campaign, the Vancouver Whitecaps are getting set to play arguably the most important of those 3 matches this Wednesday in Vancouver, where they’ll take on Minnesota United at BC Place. 

As they continue their quest to make the playoffs, this arguably might be their most important game of the campaign, as just 5 points separate 4th place and 9th place in the Western Conference as of writing, meaning that there will be quite the battle to secure one of the 7 postseason spots that are available in the West. 

So for the ‘Caps, who currently sit in 7th place, holding down the last spot, this game against 6th place Minnesota, who sit just 1 point ahead of them, could be a pivotal battle in that race towards the top 7, as whoever wins this game will arguably all but secure their spot in the postseason with 2 games to go. 

Because of that, the ‘Caps are expected to come out strongly in this one, at home, reminding onlookers why they’ve been one of the hottest teams in MLS as of late, as they come into this game having lost just 3 times in their last 22 games in league play. 

Fresh off of a week where they managed to beat Sporting Kansas City at home and the Portland Timbers away, before ending things off with a key road draw against the San Jose Earthquakes, they’ve got all sorts of confidence heading into this one, as well, only adding to their belief that they can take care of business in this game. 

Led by interim head coach, Vanni Sartini, who has a record of 6W-2L-3D (21 PTS) in 11 games since taking over from Marc Dos Santos at the end of August, along with a solid allotment of players headlined by Ryan Gauld, Brian White and Maxime Crepeau, the ‘Caps have been a tough nut to crack as of late, and they’ll look to keep that up into this one. 

After a slow start to the year, they’ve quickly become one of the more fun teams to watch in MLS, playing the sort of soccer that people aren’t used to seeing from them, which has many believing that they can potentially make a run in this year’s playoffs. 

But to do that, however, they need to get there, first, and winning this game would be a big step towards making that a reality, so the ‘Caps will need to be on their A-game on Wednesday. 

Having welcomed back some key players from injury this past weekend, including defenders Erik Godoy and Ranko Veselinovic, the ‘Caps are about as healthy as they’ve been in the past few weeks, too, just finding themselves without Caio Alexandre, Tosaint Ricketts and Andy Rose heading into this one, which isn’t so bad considering how long their injury list has gotten at times this season. 

So thanks to that, everything is set up for them to come out strong in this one, finding a way to get a result. With a record of 6W-1L-0D (18 PTS) in the 7 games they’ve played at BC Place this year, they’ve also been hard to beat at home, too, only adding to their optimism heading into this game. 

All that will mean nothing on Wednesday, of course, but all is set up for the ‘Caps to make some noise in this one, provided that they come out with the right intent. 

And seeing that’s been something they haven’t really struggled with since Sartini took over, things are looking good for them ahead of then, which should allow them to come out strong. 

They’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting to even get to this point in the first place, but these are the sort of games you find a way to win in order to become playoff team, so the ‘Caps will look to prove their credentials in that regard come kick-off on Wednesday night. 

BTSVancity Player To Watch: Ranko Veselinovic

Ranko Veselinovic looks on in a game against FC Dallas earlier this season (Keveren Guillou)

And expected to play a big role in helping do that is defender, Ranko Veselinovic, who looks poised to start this game after making a surprise return from injury over the weekend when the ‘Caps took on San Jose. 

Having been one of the ‘Caps best defenders this year, losing him for a couple of games was a blow, so to have him back provided a big boost, and that should be the case once again in this one. 

After an up-and-down 2020 season, he’s become a very reliable option for Vancouver in 2021, impressing with his combination of calm defensive play and sharp passing ability, so they’ll hope that he can once again find a way to be on his A-game in this one. 

Seeing how important this match is, it could very well be a cagey affair decided by moments, and having a decisive Veselinovic at the back would certainly be one way to make sure the ‘Caps come up on top in some of those moments that may occur at their end of the field. 

Storylines:

Elsewhere, here are some storylines to keep an eye out for in this one. 

It’s been a while: 

To start, it’ll be interesting to see if the ‘Caps can snap a personal cold run against Minnesota as of late, because heading into this game, they currently find themselves without a win in their last 4 games against the Loons, with their last win against them coming in July of 2018. 

That’s not particularly bad, of course, as the ‘Caps have drawn 2 of those games, but in a game where they need a win, there’s no better time for them to snap the streak than in this one. 

Having done a good job of snapping a few other streaks as of late, there’s no reason why they can’t continue that in this game, allowing them to pick up a massive victory. 

It’s all coming up White and Gauld: 

And if they’re to do that, expect big games from their in-form striker, Brian White, and their in-form DP playmaker, Ryan Gauld, who will probably be central in any of the ‘Caps efforts to win, at least if the last few games are to mean anything. 

Heading into this game, they’ve been 2 of the biggest producers for the ‘Caps as of late, as Gauld has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last 15 games, while White has 10 goals and 2 assists in his last 13 games, as they’ve both played a big role in their team’s hot run. 

So while they won’t be the only ‘Caps attackers for Minnesota to hone in on right now, as Deiber Caicedo and Cristian Dajome are also in pretty decent form themselves, but White and Gauld are certainly the ones that will garner the most attention, and rightfully so given their recent form. 

Beware of the King: 

On the other side, though, there will also be several key players on Minnesota for the ‘Caps to worry about, and there might be none more important than Emanuel Reynoso, who has 4 goals, 4 assists and 6 secondary assists this year, which makes him one to key in on for Vancouver. 

He’s been quite streaky in his production, going on some extended hot and cold runs this year, but as Reynoso goes, so do the Loons, so considering that they’ve 4 wins and 2 draws in their last 8 games, it gives you an idea of how Reynoso has been playing as of late. 

Because of that, it’s important that the ‘Caps key in on him, or else he might hurt them, as he did earlier this year when he picked up an assist in a 2-2 draw against Vancouver. 

Projected XIs: 

Vancouver Whitecaps: 

Record: 11W-9L-11D (44 PTS)

Head Coach: Vanni Sartini

Minnesota United:

Record: 12W-10L-9D (45 PTS)

Head Coach: Adrian Heath

2021 Matchups: 

Minnesota United 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Minnesota United

Looking Forward:

All-in-all, this promises to be quite the occasion, one that has the potential to be one of the games of the year in terms of drama, so hopefully the players can deliver in that regard on Wednesday. 

After dealing with the grind of a long season, this is do-or-die time, as the fate of both teams could potentially hang in the balance. 

So while all of the games going forward for both teams will have that feel, there might not be one that has more direct implications on the playoff race than this one, and that’s what makes it so intriguing. 

Because of that, it’ll make for an occasion to remember this season, as the ‘Caps look to continue their big journey from the bottom back into a playoff spot for the first time since 2017. 

Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Minnesota United, Wednesday, October 27th, 2021, 19:00 PDT, 22:00 EDT (BC Place, Vancouver)

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