Vancouver Whitecaps defence of the Voyageurs Cup begins today!
It is the classic David vs Goliath story, sort of. A MLS side vs a NASL side to decide who gets to the Canadian Championship Final. Vancouver Whitecaps head to face Ottawa Fury for the first time ever and they only have one thing on their mind – defending the Cup.
With the Whitecaps being the highest finishers of the three Canadian MLS teams in the league standings last year, they get, on paper, what should be the easiest semi-final – facing the lowest rank side left in the competition, namely whoever won the battle of the NASL Canadians. That’s Ottawa Fury, who are here by virtue of beating their western Canadian cousins FC Edmonton in the preliminary round.
The did it the hard way, winning 3-0 on the road in the first leg before giving up two goals at home in the second leg, before eventually hanging on for the 3-2 aggregate win.
TACTICS AND LINE-UPS:
It would be a bad idea for the Whitecaps coaching staff to underestimate the Ottawa Fury. They have been hungry for trophies, even though they are a ‘young’ club. Last year they came first in the Fall NASL Season, and were runners-up in Soccer Bowl 2015.
They even have some Canadian Men’s national team talent on their side. They get more call ups than the Whitecaps through Marcel de Jong and Julian de Guzman. In fact that may end up being a blessing for the ‘Caps as we may have an easier time against them without the ageless de Guzman.
Ottawa will want to show up the Whitecaps and show that they don’t need Canadian soccer stars to win, especially since this year the season doesn’t seem to be off to a good start for them as they sit in 8th place in the NASL Spring Season standings.
We will see some serious squad rotation from the Whitecaps this game. We’ll see a number of Whitecaps who have not played too much getting starting time, a bulk of them Canadians.
Kianz Froese and Marco Bustos come to mind first; if they perform well, they should see some MLS starts coming. I would love to see Sam Adekugbe start, which he most likely will, as I think his pace could do lots of damage to Ottawa. Ben McKendry will almost certainly start. Whether he slots in as a defensive midfielder beside Russell Teibert in a 4-2-3-1 or more offensively in a 4-4-2 formation, is the only real question that remains.
It was also confirmed that the 15-year-old Whitecap Wunderkid Alphonso Davies will play at some point (I am feeling a 60th minute sub), and Davies is the only USL player to earn a call up to the ‘Caps initial 20-man roster.
As for the rest of the ‘Caps I would like to see a bit more veteran influence, especially considering the next game will be in a week, and the next MLS game is June 18th. For me, Pa Modou Kah and Tim Parker should start for this game if the Caps are going to take it seriously, but Cole Seiler is more likely to get the nod beside Parker, and the pair formed a good partnership preseason.
Octavio Rivero could get the starting spot up top, hopefully with Nicolas Mezquida, but Erik Hurtado is likely to get the nod instead of the Uruguayan.
As for the ‘keeper, if Sunday’s WFC2 game was a good indication, which it surely was, Paolo Tornaghi gets the nod the games again this year, ahead of Marco Carducci. At least it gives David Ousted some well deserved rest for saving the Whitecaps in the last game, and many others!
AFTN’S OPPOSITION MAN TO WATCH :
Jonny Steele – the Northern Irishman, and former Whitecap, can make things happen when he has the ball, although Ottawa’s lack of finishing may be a concern for them.
THE VIEW FROM 202 CREW’S PREDICTIONS :
Nick: 1-1, hard fought draw
Dan: 2-0 ‘Caps