Vancouver Whitecaps are returning from a two game trip out east in Toronto and Philadelphia, trying to defend the Voyageurs Cup. Down a goal, they will have to dig deep and play well if they want to return to last year’s heights.
In the previous round they have shown they can launch comebacks, as they had to do against a feisty Ottawa Fury side. The ‘Caps are coming back on a high, after getting three points off surprise Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia.
Toronto come in with a slight 1-0 lead, but have had a tough game in Orlando to contend with, losing on the last kick of the game and losing their starting goalkeeper as well.
TACTICS AND LINE-UP DECISIONS:
The Whitecaps need to get a goal, and they won’t want to concede either. Could Robbo throw up some kind of tactical trickery? Likely not in the final. It would be best to just play the best players in the best positions and let them do their thing – it worked in the previous home leg.
Robbo will likely go with the 4-2-3-1. Although many players have been getting chances, we will see how much the Whitecaps value the Voyageurs Cup in Robbo’s selection. If they really want this we will see our best eleven on the field. This should be the case with the next MLS game five days later.
I think Paolo Tornaghi has done well, and I would not be surprised if he got the start, but I would go with David Ousted. He is always good for one save per game that should have been a goal and in a cup final that will be invaluable.
Kendall Waston and Tim Parker should be starting in the centre. Both are massive for us, and let’s not forget Parker scored a header in last years second leg as well. The combination of an aerial threat on set pieces and the defensive prowess should see them start when we desperately need two goals or more and a clean sheet.
Jordan Harvey and Fraser Aird should be starting in our fullback positions. Jordan Smith has been doing well lately, but I have not liked his defensive positioning. With Sebastian Giovinco playing I would prefer the defensive solidity of Aird. He also brings his great crosses going forward.
We need to score. We also need to play Matias Laba, but I think we should also be playing Morales a little deeper. When he has played this role he has not been as defensively lax as when he plays higher up. I really prefer him to sit deeper, especially with his passing ability. If he sits deep he will get the ball faster and we can use his passing and Kekuta Manneh’s speed to hit TFC in transition.
Or if we need to pass it around the back by lying deeper he can swing the ball around to any fullbacks that have pushed forward into open space.
In Morales’ place as the number 10, I would put Nicolas Mezquida. He is always ready to go. He also brings a second option on set piece plays and is much better at closing down higher up than Morales. Placing him here may give a bit more pressure to get an early turnover against the TFC defence.
Manneh seems to be in good form. He is always up for bigger matches and I would like to see him play. Christian Bolanos has been doing well and should get the start on the other side.
Up top will be interesting. Erik Hurtado brings lots of pace and strength, but with Octavio basically already on his way out, will we see Blaz Perez? Perez is slower, but he has a strength and “dirty player” intelligence. He has been good for goals as well. That said, I think Hurtado starts up top. That would make sense.
The Whitecaps are going to need to attack, attack, attack. They know the weaknesses of TFC and should be able to generate some chances, they will just need to put them away. I think they are up for the task.
AFTN’S DANGER MAN:
Sebastian Giovinco – What else is there to say? He has been magnificent again this season. Fairly predictable choice? Yes. But Toronto have shown they have nothing without him this season.
THE VIEW FROM 202 CREW’S PREDICTIONS:
Nick: 2-0 Van – one form Morales PK
Dan: 3-1 Van – Perez, Manneh and Waston, and Giovinco