We’re a little over a month away from the end of the MLS regular season, and the Whitecaps are teetering on the brink of elimination. After a brutal 2-1 home loss to Seattle the ‘Caps are now four points out of a playoff spot, and have only six matches left to make up that gap. The ‘Caps will likely have to win at least four of those games if they are to sneak into the postseason; a pretty tall order.
As clichéd as it is, they can only take it one game at a time though, and next up is a home match against FC Dallas, who currently hold 2nd place in the West. The ‘Caps cannot afford to drop any more points at home, so anything less than a win would be a damning blow.
One of the biggest factors in the loss to Seattle last week was the absence of Yordy Reyna. He was in a superb run of form before his suspension, and despite how hard Nicolas Mezquida usually plays, he is simply nowhere near as effective as Reyna when the Peruvian is playing like he has been. Mezquida’s first half miss from point-blank range blew the ‘Caps chance of taking a lead, and the game as a whole felt like it would have been very different if Reyna was on the field.
Thankfully, he will be back in the line-up on Sunday, and Carl Robinson could ring up a whole host of changes if he so chooses. Brett Levis is another obvious candidate to be replaced, as his pinpoint through-ball to Raúl Ruídiaz made him one of the two easy scapegoats for the loss – the other being Mezquida.
In the midfield, Felipe would seem to be an obvious choice to slot in, in place of Russell Teibert or Aly Ghazal, but he was again an unused substitute against Seattle. Instead, it was Jordon Mutch who came on for Ghazal in the second half, and that might be a change we see again on Sunday. Mutch has unfortunately been unable to get a decent run of games due to continuous injuries, but Robinson is not averse to throwing players into the lineup late in the season (see Igiebor, Nosa).
Up front, it’s hard to see any changes occurring besides bringing Reyna back in for Mezquida. There’s no way Robinson would bench Alphonso Davies, and Cristian Techera has not been bad enough to warrant being replaced by the uninspiring Brek Shea. Likewise, Kei Kamara will keep his place up top, with his shot that hit the post another brutal what-if moment from the Sounders match.
Looking at the visitors, the Whitecaps might be catching Dallas at the right time. The Texan team has hit a bit of a swoon since the beginning of August, a 2-3-2 stretch dropping them out of the top spot in the West. That said, they are still a very strong team.
Maxi Urruti has been the key to their offence lately, with one goal and three assists in his last three games, bumping him up to seven and seven for the season. Dallas might be missing their leading scorer, however, as Roland Lamah has been out of action since mid-August with a muscle injury, and is listed as “questionable” for this weekend.
The Whitecaps are now at the stage where they’ll need some luck with regards to other teams’ results, but that won’t mean anything if they can’t win themselves. The situation that played out last weekend. A second straight home loss would be catastrophic, so it’s three points or bust for the ‘Caps this weekend.