Match Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps v Real Salt Lake
Last game was bad.
No sugarcoating, no real positives to take away – the 6-0 defeat Vancouver suffered at the hands of MLS’s top team, Sporting Kansas City, was one of the worst Whitecaps performances in recent memory. It’s their third straight loss, one of which was a defeat against the very team they face tonight, Real Salt Lake. Many fans thought Vancouver should have won that game, but they’ll get a chance at redemption tonight.
A win here may not be enough to soothe the raging Whitecaps supporters, however – the Southsiders released a statement around their intent to hold the ownership, management, and coaching staff to a higher standard after a string of performances that have been described as simply not good enough. Felipe spoke to the media after the loss and shared a similar sentiment, and it’s good to see that the players are aware that things need to change.
Carl Robinson’s lineup will look different on Friday, although not entirely by choice. Efrain Juarez is suspended and will not be involved for the first time this season – thankfully in my opinion, as he’s been the worst regular starter the Whitecaps have had. Yordy Reyna was also sent off and will not play, Kei Kamara is still injured, and Doneil Henry has yet to appear, and has been sent to Ottawa on a one-month loan, ostensibly to regain full match fitness.
Anthony Blondell will lead the charge as Kamara continues to recover, while the suspensions will shake up the midfield. Aly Ghazal’s first start of the season was last week and did not go well but he is likely to start again with Robinson unable to pick Juarez, while Bernie Ibini and Cristian Techera are potential options to replace Reyna.
Russell Teibert will likely start after being subbed on last week, while Felipe and Alphonso Davies are likely to retain their starting roles. Brek Shea doesn’t start too many games at home, but he could be an option in lieu of one of the midfielders to add a more attacking presence. The back four is unlikely to change from the usual De Jong-Waston-Aja-Nerwisnki group, but you feel this is needing a shake up after the amount of goals being conceded, so the experience of Sean Franklin could be good to call upon for this one.
Real Salt Lake are somewhat banged up, with Luke Mulholland, Marcelo Silva, Luis Silva, and Demar Phillips unlikely to feature. Luis Silva is a dangerous player who scored in the last meeting of these two clubs and his absence will help the Whitecaps, but Alfredo Ortuno will slot in to replace him and he has shown flashes of danger as well. Pablo Ruiz will likely not start, but offers a change to the offensive setup off the bench if the Whitecaps are able to successfully keep the starting group off the board.
Jefferson Savarino was the other goalscorer in the previous encounter, and he will likely be in the starting lineup alongside Ortuno and Joao Plata. Nick Rimando will get the start in goal, looking for his 200th win in MLS competition. It is worth noting that while RSL will field a strong lineup as usual, they are winless on the road this season, with five losses and two draws away from home.
Last week’s outing inspires little confidence in a Whitecaps side that has been shaky even in their wins and looked entirely ineffective in their losses. But they are at home, and while that didn’t help against LAFC, you get the sense that things are going to have to turn around pretty quickly.
We know there’s something there – the Whitecaps have a host of very talented players and they certainly aren’t incapable of winning a match, despite their recent form. The lineup changes brought on by a slew of suspensions and injuries will see the Whitecaps field an XI that we haven’t really gotten a look at so far this season, and perhaps that shake up is just what the team needs to end their three-game skid.