Guess what? It’s time for another Whitecaps match! They’re coming thick and fast.
Returning home to BC Place to face FC Dallas, this will be the Whitecaps fifth match in sixteen days, which is…a lot. An upcoming three-week break in June due to the Gold Cup is the likely reason for this fixture congestion, pushing the ‘Caps to their limits in terms of team fitness and performance.
Injuries have played a role in the last couple weeks, though both Jon Erice and Felipe were able to make somewhat surprising starts against New York Red Bulls on Wednesday to help mitigate the losses of Doneil Henry and Lass Bangoura, along with the continued absence of Yordy Reyna.
That Red Bulls match saw quite heavy squad rotation, as Maxime Crépeau, Jake Nerwinski, Inbeom Hwang, Russell Teibert, Lucas Venuto, and Fredy Montero all began the match on the bench, indicating from the start that the ‘Caps were going to be in tough to get a result. They did secure a point, however, and could have easily grabbed all three with a great chance at the death (Hwang really should have squared it), but given how Red Bulls could gripe just as much – if not more – about not getting the win, I’d say a draw was a fair result.,br>
The ‘Caps quick two-game road trip – both “eh, I’ll take it” draws – will now be followed by two home matches before the aforementioned three-week break, giving Marc Dos Santos and the players not called up to their national teams a breather at the not-quite-halfway-but-close-enough point of the season.
Before I go any further, I want to give some love to the ‘Caps ironman, Érik Godoy. The Argentine defender has been a massive addition to the squad, developing instant chemistry with Henry and marshalling a defence that has been the ‘Caps saving grace so far this year. With Henry going down he stepped up again against NYRB, providing a fantastic goal-line clearance and leading a back three alongside centre-back/striker Derek Cornelius and not-actually-a-defender Andy Rose.
Godoy has played every minute this season – the only player to do so – and barring Dos Santos feeling some pity for his workload, he will be back out there against Dallas, probably beside Cornelius in a back four. At left-back is the ‘Caps other ever-present player, Ali Adnan, who similar to Godoy has played every minute since arriving on loan at the end of March. He’s probably due for a rest at some point, but given his talent it would be a very difficult to leave him out of the starting XI.
Right-back might be a question mark once again. Before Wednesday’s match Jake Nerwinski strung together five pretty solid starts, but Scott Sutter is coming off a solid performance of his own in New Jersey that saw him score his first as a Whitecap. Nerwinski still has the edge in my mind, but Sutter has proved to be a serviceable backup.
Jon Erice’s return makes picking the starting midfield a lot easier, as he is someone Dos Santos leans on heavily. Assuming he is fit he will be starting, while Inbeom Hwang and Russell Teibert seem to have solidified their spots beside Erice in the first-choice XI.
Felipe had his chances to impress with three consecutive starts, but I don’t feel he did enough to warrant starting over any of the three I mentioned above. Rose is also an option, as own-goal notwithstanding he has done well since coming back from injury.
Joaquín Ardaiz’s quest of doing literally everything except scoring continues, but all jokes aside he played his best game as a Whitecap against NYRB. He was as engaged as we’ve seen him all season, and played a critical role in Sutter’s goal. The second half saw him and Fredy Montero playing up top together, a decision that made sense given the three at the back formation.
If Dos Santos goes back to the 4-3-3 against Dallas (which he surely will), then Ardaiz was set to be back on the bench. but after coming off in New York with an injury, and subsequently undergoing a MRI scan, the Uruguayan will now miss out on this one altogether, affording homegrown signing the possibility of getting his first MLS start.
Looking at the visitors, FC Dallas currently sit at sixth in the West, but are going through a rough patch of five games without a win. They are coming off a home-and-home with LAFC that saw them lose 2-0 away, before managing to hold on for a 1-1 draw at home, despite going down a man early in the second half. They’ve only scored three goals over this five-game stretch, and are tied with Colorado for the third-fewest goals scored in the West this season. Unsurprisingly, the ‘Caps are one of the two teams worse in that category.
Up front, their main threats are 18-year-old Jesus Ferreira, who leads the team with four goals, and Michael Barrios (pictured above), who leads the team with five assists. Dallas will be missing four midfielders this weekend, as Young DP Santiago Mosquera is injured, and young Americans Paxton Pomykal, Edwin Cerrillo, and Brandon Servania are away at the U20 World Cup.
The Whitecaps are currently chugging along at a point-per-game pace, which is not the worst but is also far from what it will take to make the playoffs. The good news is that their home form has improved in recent weeks: they are 2-1-1 in their last four home matches, and have only conceded two goals in those games.
Of course, they’ve only scored three goals themselves, but it wouldn’t be the Whitecaps we know and love without at least one area of the team that requires massive improvement.
It’s set to be another close one, but, despite their travel hell of late, it’s also a great opportunity to get some more points on the board before the Gold Cup break.