A successful road trip. Let those words fill your ears and run through your mind while you soak in the boundless joy that the meaning behind that phrase brings. Six points on the road in MLS is not something that should be sneered at, especially for a team that seem to have tried everything, to no avail, before turning to the 4-1-4-1. The encouraging thing, as mentioned by some players and staff in interviews, have been the performances. The team finally has an identity to rally around on the road, something that has been lacking in the large majority of away matches in recent times.
The squad will now play three home games in a row, two in MLS and the other the first leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final against Montreal. These games will be a different test altogether; in home games, the onus is on the Whitecaps to seize the upper hand.
Sporting Kansas City come to town fresh off a massive 3-0 home win against Seattle Sounders, with forward Gerso Fernandes bagging a 14 minute hat trick in the second half. It’s performances like that which have SKC sitting three points clear at the top of the Western Conference, having conceded only seven goals in their 12 matches so far.
Fernandes aside, it’s the regular suspects getting the work done for Kansas, with Dom Dwyer leading the scoring and Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi leading their assists stats.
Tactics and Formation
The question for Vancouver will be whether to stick with the more defensive 4-1-4-1 or go for the more attacking 4-2-3-1 at home. I would think that Robbo would hope that the momentum from the road trip will persevere regardless of what tactics are chosen. As we heard recently, Robbo is part of the increasing group of managers that believe too much emphasis is put on a sequence of numbers that add up to 10.
I am leaning towards the 4-2-3-1. At home, you need to attack to be taken seriously. A back five of David Ousted, Sheanon Williams, Tim Parker, Kendall Waston and Jordan Harvey should keep their starting berths. I hope Robbo has taken some time to pull Harvey to a side and show him a couple of Dani Alves back post clearances, just to show him how it should be done.
The midfield two should be Laba and Jacobson. Their chemistry has grown, but I have a feeling that this could be the game that we see them flourish in the two man midfield capacity against SKC’s spread out three man midfield.
I would like to see an attacking midfield trio of Alphonso Davies, Christian Bolanos and Cristian Techera operate behind Fredy Montero. Davies has been limited to substitute appearances, in part not to tire him out, and the hopefully now refreshed winger could do with a run out to prove his starting credentials. Brek Shea would also be a good choice if he was fully recovered from his injury, but maybe we should just continue to sub him on with 21 minutes to go (he scored in both previous games when subbed on at that time). Robinson said this week that Shea could probably go a full half “at a stretch”, so don’t expect to see him till late on.
It’s important we don’t see Montero continue to be stranded on an island. I understand that the nature of the away performances is that he will be alone as a striker as the ‘Caps look to clog up the midfield, but in this home game, he will be the best chance that the Whitecaps have of consistently making something happen.
Will it be 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1?
Will Alphonso Davies get the start?
Can Fredy Montero get the support that he needs?
Joe: 2-1 Vancouver
Nick: 1-1 draw. SKC have lots of quality this year on the defensive end and are starting find some attacking form.