The Whitecaps are continuing to do well, as seen by their standing in the Western Conference. Still on top! They now have a home game against a team that has been struggling all season in Colorado, although the Rapids have found a bit of confidence and backbone of late following their recent coaching change.
The Whitecaps will come into this game as big favourites to win. The team are unbeaten in their last six matches, recording four wins and two draws, while Colorado has only one win on the road all year. That did come recently, however, against Houston. Vancouver have 1.8 goals per game this year at home, while Colorado have a ghastly 0.4 goals per game away. It would be an understatement to say that the expectation is that the Whitecaps win this game.
It becomes even more important to win this game with the context that the ‘Caps are going on a road trip to finish the season off. They will have a difficult six games away from home to finish off the season. It will be important to get as many points as they can in this game if they wish to stay in the race for the top of the Western Conference.
Formation and Tactics:
The Whitecaps have been doing well in Robbo’s tweaked system. That has mostly been due to a stellar backline duo of Tim Parker and Kendall Waston. They help in dominating our own box and it has been very hard for any opposition attacks to come in aerially. Those pair have been ever present the last few games, but that will have ot change this week with Waston’s suspension.
It’s a timely one, missing the match against the weaker Colorado but now being rested for the big one against Seattle on Wednesday. As for who will step in, it looks like it’s a 50/50 call between Aaron Maund and Andrew Jacobson. You’d expect Maund, but Jacobson has done well back there and has an already established understanding with Parker.
David Ousted should be in net. If Colorado gets any fast counter attacks on the Whitecaps he will need to make the smart decision on whether to sweep up or sit tight.
Guarding the flanks are likely to be the ageless wonder Jordan Harvey and the youngster Jake Nerwinski. Both have been doing great in getting forward recently and in the one on one defensive situations they need to win to protect the flanks.
That said, I have really enjoyed seeing Marcel de Jong out there. He brings a different style to the left fullback position and I think there is a case that de Jong should be starting over Harvey. He has 3 tackles/90 mins to Harvey’s 1.5 tackles/90 mins. He has also given away less fouls/90 minutes as well, with 0.7 to Harvey’s 1.2. Harvey on the defensive side only beats him in clearances/90 minutes. Going forward his numbers also look better, seeing that he has more key passes with a comparable passing percentage. Perhaps Harvey is getting a little older and father time is catching up with him. I would not mind seeing more of de Jong this year, as he has done quite well with the Canadian Men’s team and when called upon by the ‘Caps.
We also have an interesting battle for spots in the midfield. Tony Tchani has been very solid whenever he plays. His physical presence and his additional attacking set piece danger is welcome. We saw the first glimpses of Aly Ghazal in two of the last three games, and he looked very good, but he has to fight for that position against Jacobson (a swiss army knife player for the ‘Caps), if he doesn’t get the nod in the defence, or Russell Teibert, who has struggled to get minutes (but has seemed very good when he gets them). Wednesday’s team selection also looms large.
In front of whoever plays in the middle, Yordy Reyna and Fredy Montero need to be starting. They are creative and make things happen. If Colorado (normally a very defensive team) decides to bunker down, they need to be out there making things tick. This has to be a game to take all three points from. Reyna was terribly unlucky hitting the post twice against Columbus, but it is amazingly promising that he is getting into those situations. I would not be surprised to see him work with Montero again for this one and either one or both of them score.
On the wings, I would not mind seeing Cristian Techera start. Techera can help with getting ideas to break down a deep lying Colorado. I think this would also be a great game for Davies to go the full 90 minutes. He has not been getting regular time to play but against a down and out Colorado team, hopefully he can pop in his first MLS goal. He should have some strength and hunger to get a goal.
A lot of decisions for Carl Robinson for this one, but a win is imperative.
Who will have the creativity to break down the Rapids?
What will the central midfield look like?
Can we stay top of the West?
AFTN’s Man To Watch
Tim Howard – The US national team goalkeeper can easily steal Rapids a point or three with his saves and positioning.
Nick: 2-0. We should be able to easily brush them aside if we are true contenders for the MLS Cup
Joe: 1-1. With both teams sitting back I think set pieces will be key.