The ‘Caps are rolling through onto the next game vs Dallas at BC Place, where they may even run into an old friend on the field. Over the last few years the Whitecaps have always had good games against Dallas and this time there should be fireworks. Will it be enough to snap them out of their goalscoring slump?
FORM GUIDE :
Vancouver have not won in three games; it is not looking good for the Whitecaps, but then again this is MLS, and we shall have streaks going against us and streaks going for us. The key is to ride out the bad as best you can, and capitalize on the good streaks.
Dallas have been a dominant team at the start of this season. They are leading by 5 with a total of 17 points in the standings. During that time they have only lost one game. Recently they have had great offensive production and a tight backline – not to mention the multiple threats they pose. That has led to a six-game unbeaten run.
This is going to be a meeting of two streaking teams, can the Whitecaps get back in the win column? Or will Dallas continue their winning ways?
TACTICS AND PROJECTED LINE-UP:
The Whitecaps at least showed that they wanted to make it a game in Salt Lake. It was not the best game to watch, but it was a better showing than the previous outing in DC. They are now coming home; it was a rough road trip and hopefully the fans can get behind them and help lift the team that has been sliding.
At this point it seems like there may be some kind of structural deficiencies in the Whitecaps game this year. Do we blame the coach for the lack of goals? Or do we blame the owners for letting Steven Beitashour walk, and not bringing in a proven goal scorer? Maybe a little of both. However at this point in the season there is not much we can do to rectify this; perhaps the best thing we can do is play the best players we have at their best positions and hope for the best.
That said, so far our best player has been David Ousted. He gets the start again.
And about Fraser Aird? Sure he is not Beitashour, but I have no problems with him so far. He has been progressing at a fantastic rate and has been huge with his crosses. Its just we don’t have anyone who can finish them. Although he has made some direct mistakes, I believe that is to be expected of someone learning this position, and they are happening less and less as the year goes on.
Jordan Harvey has been good, in fact he has been the best player this year who is not guarding our goal. And he should be getting the start against Dallas. His veteran presence and play is needed as the Whitecaps go through this tough time.
Kendall Waston and Tim Parker (wonderful goal line clearance) had a decent game against RSL; they are helping us get into any game. Unfortunately it is hard to rely on your centre backs to keep the game at 0-0. Put enough pressure on any beam and it will crack.
Matias Laba is destroying attacks, but alas he is not creative enough and doesn’t have a pass that could make him an amazing defensive midfielder. Andrew Jacobson next to him has been serviceable. Not what we need, but he has not made many mistakes. However, he doesn’t take any risks either. The lack of risk-taking and passing for the central positions on the field are helping contribute to the lack of goals. At this point I like what they bring defensively but it causes too much creativity to have to come from the width of the field. Our depth in the center is not looking good for creativity; although we could put Christian Bolanos there, even though he has not looked very invigorated or interested in making or taking chances.
Oh…. the forwards. For the first 20 to 30 minutes of the game against RSL they were exciting and making chances and passing at blistering speeds with some nice interchanges. Then they dropped off; this is disconcerting as it has happened in a number of games. They need to score, yes, but they need to try scoring throughout the game. It appeared that the urgency just vanished.
I did like the idea of Nicolas Mezquida starting with Octavio Rivero. Perhaps trying to recapture the preseason chemistry they had. I would not mind seeing Mezquida sit under Octavio this game. Any long balls we play over our not-creative midfield could be won by Octavio and then there is someone right away who can interchange with him. Too many times this season the Whitecaps have sat too deep and left him stranded; if we play Mezquida right under, Octavio would perhaps be able to get that support right away. Masato Kudo has been non-existent so there is not much to say about that.
On the wings we could see Cristian Techera and Kekuta Manneh start again. Techera was not that great; Manneh was looking better than he has at other times, then other times he seemed to not want to take risks to score (that header, throw yourself at it!). I liked the interchanging they developed, and I am willing to give some time for some chemistry to (hopefully) develop between them.
Dallas is the team to beat in MLS right now. They have been missing their star midfielder Mauro Diaz, but that is not stopping them, and he has made the trip north for this one and could see time off the bench. They are playing mostly in a 4-4-2, and the forwards that start and come off the bench can score.
Without Diaz they don’t have a midfielder who is controlling the game and trying to use the pace on the wings. Instead they are looking at longer balls out of the back for more 1 vs 1 battles, while at the same time looking for more interchange and fluidity between the midfield and forwards. They have many dangerous men: Michael Barrios (can play a wide midfield role or up top), Tesho Akindele (playing more centrally recently), Fabian Castillo (the man with pace), and Maxi Urruti (has a deadly touch but a great work rate and in recent games has helped cause many turnovers in bad spots).
They could play Jesse Gonzalez or Chris Seitz; both have been great in games between the pipes. Matt Hedges has been playing well and is helping anchor the backline of Dallas in this recent run, however he has just had surgery so the ‘Caps have one less defender to worry about. That said, equally good against SKC was Zach Loyd, so depending on how he keeps his form we shall see how far the ‘Caps non existent goal scoring gets.
The keys for the Whitecaps will be to get men forward and throw themselves at goal. We need someone to pick up the mantle of goalscorer, be brave and get into the FC Dallas zone and throw themselves at it. And they can’t just stop after the 20 minute mark either, they need to dole out the attack over the whole game.
The other thing will be watching the turnovers and the shape of the team. FC Dallas has scored a number of goals off bad turnovers against Portland, and we should be wary of taking time on the ball. Dallas’ forwards close down quickly and from all angles, and they are dangerous finishers so we should be willing to get the ball forward quickly.
THREE QUESTIONS :
Can the Whitecaps limit the good play from Dallas forwards and midfield scoring from sloppy turnovers?
If Dallas score first, will vancouver have any answer at all or capitulate once more?
And of course, our old chestnut, will the Caps score from open play? (7 games and counting)
AFTN’s MAN TO WATCH :
So many people to choose from. I will go with Michael Barrios. He is a live wire and their leading goalscorer. He can play from the wing or up top. Either way he is a creative force and knows how to time a run, or play creatively with others around him. He doesn’t shy away from defensive duties either.
THE VIEW FROM 202 CREW’S PREDICTIONS :
Nick : 1-1 Tie. Whitecaps finally manage to score from open play (a bit optimistic I know)
Dan: 0-2. Akindele and Barrios to score while our woes continue for now
Joe: 0-0. Robbo sets up to kill the game
Let us know your score predictions below.