Despite what you may think, the Whitecaps are not the worst team in MLS. Yes, they only have six points from nine matches, but there is another team doing even worse. That team is the Colorado Rapids, who are still winless with a hardy 0-7-2 record, and it is Colorado who the ‘Caps face next.
What could possibly go wrong?!
Yes, it is a road game, but if the ‘Caps can’t play well against a team off to a historically bad start, then I’m not sure where salvation will come from. The one potential warning sign is that Colorado will have the always touted first-match-following-the-sacking-of-the-manager energy boost, as Anthony Hudson was let go after nearly 18 months at the helm, but this Rapids team is just not very good.
Of course, outside of one shining night against LAFC, the ‘Caps have not looked good either. The 1-1 draw last weekend against Philadelphia means the ‘Caps have not scored twice in a match since March 16th, and their measly tally of seven goals leads only Atlanta United for the lowest scorers in the league, and they have played two fewer matches.
To put this slow offensive start into perspective, if the ‘Caps kept scoring at this rate for the whole year, it would be the fourth-worst single season goals-per-game rate in MLS history, ahead of only the horrendous DC United and Chivas USA teams from the early 2010s. Doneil Henry is currently the ‘Caps leading scorer, with two goals. That is not ideal.
That is also not meant to be a knock on Henry, who has had a very good season so far, and was just part of the MLS Team of the Week for the second time this year. The ‘Caps’ defence is the only reason they’re picking up points right now, as they’ve conceded only five goals in their last six matches. I would imagine that the backline of Maxime Crépeau, Henry, Érik Godoy, Ali Adnan, and Jake Nerwinski, will stick together against the Rapids, as they’re the only part of the team that’s doing their job consistently.
In the front six, the ‘Caps quest for goals from anybody has taken a hit as Yordy Reyna will be out of action for around a month with a now confirmed hamstring injury. This is a tough blow for the ‘Caps, as he was playing much better in recent weeks, but is also a big blow for Reyna himself, as he is surely desperate to make Peru’s squad for the upcoming Copa América. Hopefully he can be fit in time for the tournament.
Reyna’s injury opens the door once again for either Fredy Montero or Joaquín Ardaiz to start. Ardaiz would seem to be the obvious choice to start given that he has been able to create chances when he’s played, but Marc Dos Santos has publicly called out his work ethic, so there are obviously reasons why he has been given just one start so far. On the other hand, Montero has been exceedingly ineffective when he’s played, so it’ll be a tough call to make for Dos Santos. He’s your experienced Designated Player and is the guy you would expect to call upon in a crisis.
The midfield picture is the same as it’s been for a while, for better or for worse. Jon Erice will wear the armband, Inbeom Hwang will be counted on to try and create some magic, and either Felipe or Russell Teibert will try to cover whatever the previous two aren’t able to. The one curveball Dos Santos might throw is Andy Rose, who is back in training but was not in the 18 last weekend.
As I mentioned earlier, Anthony Hudson was let go by the Rapids after a 17-month tenure that saw Colorado go an eye-watering 8-26-9 in MLS play. Conor Casey has taken over as interim head coach, and will marshal a Rapids squad that has a couple players looking to find the net against their former club.
The first is Kei Kamara, who led the ‘Caps in scoring last season but was let go after Dos Santos took over. There’s clearly still some juice left in his 34-year-old legs, as the striker has five goals in nine appearances, and has now scored the 5th most goals in MLS history. The other former Whitecap is Nicolás Mezquida, who was never a regular starter but made 121 appearances for the club, eighth-most in the ‘Caps MLS era. He has one goal and one assist so far this season.
If there’s any team the ‘Caps can rack up goals against, it’s probably the Rapids, as they have conceded 24 goals this season, by far the most in the league. On the flip side, if there’s any team the Rapids can hold a clean sheet against, it’s probably the Whitecaps, who have very documented problems with regards to scoring the ball.
Let’s find out which team’s futility is stronger!