What goal scoring crisis? The Caps were so electric on the weekend that they had the opposition scoring for them!
That Dallas game came at exactly the right time for the Whitecaps. The emotion that was released when Maynor Figueroa bounced the ball past his own goalkeeper was evident in the players, and then it opened the floodgates for Jordan Harvey and Kekuta Manneh to ensure the three points. Great performances from David Ousted, Mati Laba and Tim Parker were also eye catching.
The Whitecaps now find themselves faced with a midweek fixture against Sporting Kansas City. Kansas have an almost identical record to the Whitecaps through eight games this season. They have won four and lost four and sit two points above the ‘Caps, who have 10 points.
Kansas seem like a different team that blew Vancouver aside in week 2; they have lost their last three games, most recently against the San Jose Earthquakes. Despite coming away with no points in the last few games, they have kept the competitions close, and lost by only a single goal in each of those defeats.
TACTICS AND PROJECTED LINE UP :
Vancouver’s 4-4-2 was looking good on Saturday night against Dallas. Going back to basics has really turned this team’s fortunes around. The dynamics of the game have also changed slightly. For example: we are seeing less deep runs from the full backs and more crosses from deep because of the two striker system.
The introduction of Nicolas Mezquida has to be seen as the turning point. He is persistent and intelligent on and off the ball. He chases down long balls well too. I don’t mind the fact that we are playing more direct football under this formation as long as we aren’t aimlessly punting it forward. Mezquida and Octavio Rivero run the channels superbly, so it is a very viable source of offence. Perez also came on to great effect, so perhaps a start for him to rest one of the other strikers could be on the cards.
The midfield looked good, but its quality was never really in question. Andrew Jacobson is an interesting player, he moves around well and is very experienced. I also like his shot, but I hope we can see more of it. The wingers were busy and responsible defensively, a must for a successful 4-4-2.
The defensive unit absorbed almost everything that was thrown at it, with the standout performance of David Ousted grabbing the headlines. What a player!
The Whitecaps should continue with the 4-4-2, although this could be a test for Mezquida and Rivero going up against Matt Besler and co. SKC have always had a solid defence, so the wingers will have to get more involved. A possible route to Tim Melia’s goal is by exploiting the flanks. Manneh showed improvement against Dallas, and if he can continue his current form then we could have a focal point for our attack.
Dom Dwyer will look to threaten the Whitecaps for the second time this season, but Tim Parker and Kendall Waston will be all too aware of what he is capable of. The backline is vastly different to the one we saw in the early weeks of the season, with Fraser Aird improving greatly and Ousted in the form of his life. The best bet for SKC’s three forward players will be to stretch the play and create matchups. I suspect they will try and isolate Aird, who in current form is a match for any forward in the league. He stifled Fabian Castillo effectively on the weekend and was never found wanting.
The fact that SKC play a 4-3-3 means that the Caps will have to be a little flexible with their shape. It’s not too worrying as the midfield is pretty dynamic, but part of me feels that a 4-2-3-1 would give us a huge advantage had Robbo had enough time between games to set it up. The 4-2-3-1 would completely outnumber the three man midfield that Kansas have, and would open up the advanced wingers too. Maybe I’m tinkering too much; the 4-4-2 has been working so we should keep at it.
There are a couple of things that I feel like should be addressed: Firstly, Rivero has not been scoring, but the work he does holding up the ball is nothing short of fantastic. He has looked dangerous too, so the goals will come, even though there are other parts of his play that makes him extremely valuable to the team.
Secondly, why do the Whitecaps never come from behind to win a game of football? This has been an issue for ages now. Once we concede first, the game is pretty much a write off! We have the one famous comeback against RSL and that was a 2-2 draw and a Nick Rimando mistake. Teams with character never say die, and maybe this young team lacks a little bit in that department. This has probably improved with the addition of Perez and Waston, who wear their heart on their sleeves. We need a bit more passion and a never say die attitude. Too many heads drop and there is very little will to grab games by the scruff of the neck. This is more of a dressing room issue than a tactical one, and it may be something the coaching staff should look at.
DANGER MEN :
Dom Dwyer – He’s bitten us once already this season. Make sure he’s marked out of the game.
Matt Besler – Experienced defender who will take something special to beat.
Benny Feilhaber – Dynamic midfielder
THE VIEW FROM 202 CREW’S PREDICTIONS :
Joe – 2-1 Vancouver, Manneh and Rivero
Nick – 1-1 , Whitecaps lack of depth is going to show in this game
Dan – 2-0 Vancouver, Harvey and Mezquida