After last week’s bitter disappointment in our nation’s capital, the Whitecaps will look to overturn a formidable two goal deficit against the impressive Ottawa Fury.
Last week’s showing by the young players was not good enough. Sure, the pitch looked like it had the texture of stale bread and there was very little experience in the side, but there was a lack of a game plan on the pitch. I highly doubt this was a mistake in the coaching department. To me it looked like the players just failed to carry it out, because they just kept kicking aimless long balls forward.
It’s time to put that game behind us. If we can overturn the deficit on Wednesday all we be forgiven. It would be embarrassing to, say the least, if our title defence was to fall short in this manner.
Everyone loves to see young players come through to the squad. There’s a romance seeing “one of our own” coming in and doing our team proud. But the organization must have gotten caught up in the narrative this year. The second leg will need an injection of experience and intensity. Sam Adekugbe, Kianz Froese and Marco Bustos should be dropped. I love Erik Hurtado’s game, but he isn’t the one to bring us back into this tie. That being said, I believe one of either Russell Teibert or Ben McKendry should stay in the line-up. Matias Laba needs to come in and break those forward movements that we saw from Johnny Steele and Bryan Olivera in the first leg.
As previously mentioned, Adekugbe can count himself lucky if he finds himself starting, but perhaps Robbo will ask him to prove his worth and expect a performance. Jordan Harvey would be the safe bet if we are being cynical. The rest of the backline should see Cole Seiler, Tim Parker, Fraser Aird and Paolo Tornaghi.
The addition of David Ousted to the squad may mean Robbo is going to the stronger keeper to keep out what could be a killer away goal, so the Dane may get the nod instead. Seiler did pretty well last week and I have confidence in him to shore up the gaps. Octavio Rivero can lead the line, with Pedro Morales, Cristian Techera and Kekuta Manneh behind him.
I am basing this selection off last week’s performances. Robbo needs to manage this team, which means managing the personalities in it. Is dropping these young Canadians sending the right message to the youngsters? Perhaps not, but like Robbo said, we need to turn this tie around.
So what should the game plan be? Obviously, an early goal would change this entire series. We need to come out of the tunnel with the right mindset. Intensity and possession are a couple of keywords that need to be drilled into the team.
The frustrating thing about last Wednesday is that we played with no width. That is why I believe Techera and Manneh should come in and attack those Ottawa fullbacks. I say we stick with the 4-2-3-1 and press them high with more experienced players.
Techera and Manneh contribute defensively and are rapid going forward. They will need to stay in wide positions on Wednesday and really stretch the shape of the Ottawa back line. The introduction of Morales will guarantee that we hold onto the ball. The only long balls that should be played are ones over the top of the defenders to Manneh or Rivero. It’s so frustrating to see the ball being punted time and time again to a miss-matched Rivero or Hurtado.
As far as counter measures against the opposition go, Laba should keep an eye on Steele. Laba should be able to handle him comfortably, but everything seemed to go through the Fury player last week. The other possible red light was Paulo Junior, who Aird should marshal carefully. Ottawa were not the first team to find joy down our right flank, so we can expect the Fury to look to that side again.
AFTN’S MAN TO WATCH :
Apart from legendary goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar on the bench? Jonny Steele – he will look to replicate last week’s excellent performance.
THREE QUESTIONS :
Can Vancouver get the early goal to change the tide?
How will Robbo manage the squad?
Can Ottawa mastermind a smash and grab?
THE VIEW FROM 202 CREW’S PREDICTIONS :
Joe – Call me a romantic, but 2-0 after extra time, with Vancouver to win on penalties. Russell T to get the winner
Nick – 1-0 to the ‘Caps. Not enough to get the job done
Dan – 3-1 ‘Caps. A good result any other day, but they fall on the away goal rule