Vancouver Whitecaps are coming off a thrilling, but ultimately disappointing, game against Colorado Rapids at the weekend to take on Central FC in CONCACAF Champions League action at BC Place on Wednesday night.
For spectators, the Rapids game was a fun affair with a last ditch equaliser and exciting swings in momentum, but it was not the outcome the Whitecaps wanted, or needed. The ‘Caps have struggled to get results in MLS play and continue to make it harder and harder for themselves to get into the postseason picture. Still a six percent chance!
If there is a silver lining this season, it has been the team’s play in the Champions League.
The Whitecaps have already booked a place into the knockout stages of the tournament. However, they could get a better seeding with another win against the Trinidadian side Central FC. With only the winner from each group advancing, who you play is determined by how many points the top teams will get. Getting a maximum 12 points out of 12 would be fantastic for the Whitecaps to get the best draw possible. That may mean more MLS opposition but the better chance to advance to the semis.
Tactics and Line-up:
Recently Robbo has switched to a 4-4-2 formation; we could see him revert back to the 4-2-3-1 but putting in an extra striker is going to help the Whitecaps get some goals against a “smaller” opponent. Trinidad and Tobago teams can play a smart, physical brand of soccer. They are tough, however as they have no chance of advancing they may play some reserves or second stringers.
The same may be said for the Whitecaps; they have already won their group and qualified for the quarter-finals, so they may just play some WFC2 and fringe players, but ultimately they are targeting the three points so will be putting a team out there that can get the job done and hopefully some goals, as goal difference will have a part to play.
The ‘Caps have switched up the goalkeepers in the previous three group games, with Spencer Richey playing twice and Paolo Tornaghi one. I would look for Tornaghi to get the start this game. He has played well and it would nice to see him start again, for what may be his last time as a Whitecap. Richey has also done well, and as the likelihood is that he will be getting a MLS deal next season, Robinson may want to get him as much first team experience as he can.
Along the backline should see Marcel de Jong (or Brett Levis, although he is more likely to play left midfield if he gets the start) with Jordan Smith as the outside backs. The central pairing looks set to be Tim Parker and Cole Seiler. The pair of them play well together and now would be a good time to start some of the younger players and give them some minutes and experience with an eye to next season.
In the midfield, Andrew Jacobson will patrol the central areas of the pitch, with Ben McKendry the most likely partner, with Russell Teibert still injured. Cristian Techera will almost certainly be on one of the wings, although I would not mind seeing Fraser Aird continue to be placed higher up in a wing position. He looks good going forward and can help out with any overlapping fullbacks.
Depending on formation, and whether there is a two striker system, Nicolas Mezquida will most like be the number ten (although you can also argue for Marco Bustos). As for who he feeds into up front, I would like to see Masato Kudo get the start, perhaps along with Kyle Greig (who has had a strong USL season).
Hopefully this mixture of experience and youth will be able to secure a top four seeding in CCL, getting that favourable draw for the quarter-final match up. It is time to give the young players who have not started a chance. They show lots of promise and well, the veteran first team has not been delivering this year.
How much rotation will happen?
Will any younger players who have not started get a chance?
Can the Whitecaps keep scoring – the CCL seems to agree with the team?
AFTN’s Man to Watch:
Kenwyne Jones – After missing the ‘Caps game in Trinidad, the future Atlanta United played has looked dangerous in the CCL matches that I’ve seen. He is a good attacking midfield option and will have to be closely marked by the ‘Caps.
The View From 202 Crew’s Predictions:
Dan : 3-1 Whitecaps
Joe : 3-0, A classic Whitecaps performance when it matters least
Nick : 2-0 Whitecaps, they keep up the winning ways in the CCL