Sometime a few weeks ago, the Whitecaps decided to go quietly into the night. A longshot playoff push turned into a backslide real fast as the team has now lost three straight matches, beenoutscored 8-1 over this stretch, and are looking quite bereft of ideas and joy.
A switch to a back four in Colorado did not provide any sort of different result, leaving me with the difficult task of trying to sort out what the ‘Caps might actually look like when they line up against the Galaxy on Wednesday night. Sadly, we’re at the point of the season when the natural inclination is to ask, “does it even matter?”
The ‘Caps are now just four points ahead of last place in the West, and are perhaps fittingly tied with Toronto for 23rd in the league. Most frustrating is just how toothless they have looked in attack. Of course, they’ve not looked like world-beaters in front of goal at any point this year (tied with SKC for the lowest-scoring outfit in the conference), but just 14 shots on target in their last four matches combined makes for some ugly reading.
The one bright spot from Saturday’s match is that Brian White did finally got another goal, just his 2nd in the last four months. With Lucas Cavallini still suspended, White will surely be up top alongside Ryan Gauld, who is coming back from a suspension of his own and might actually be a little rested now.
Might Vanni Sartini switch things up once again and throw Tosaint Ricketts up top for a two-striker formation? The other option would be to continue to use either Alessandro Schöpf or Pedro Vite as the third attacker. Vite was sloppy against the Rapids while Schöpf looked better when he was playing further back in the formation. The other potential option, Cristian Dájome, has been in poor form as of late as his tough season continues.
The backline has been more consistent recently in terms of who lines up there, as Jake Nerwinski has been on the bench for each of the last three matches. Ranko Veselinović, Javain Brown, and Tristan Blackmon have all been the everyday players, although that could change given the fact that they’ve given up multiple goals in each of the last three matches.
Looking at the visitors, the Galaxy are also reeling a bit, needing last minute goals in three straight matches to rescue draws against Toronto, SKC, and Nashville. Chicharito, despite scoring seven goals in his last seven matches, has found himself the object of some scorn after multiple penalty misses in the last week.
Riqui Puig has fit in quite well, providing two goals and an assist already in his nascent MLS career, including a 99th minute penalty last time out. The 23-year-old midfielder will be a player to watch on Wednesday night, with Andrés Cubas surely tasked with trying to keep an eye on him for the ‘Caps.
There are just four matches to go in the 2022 MLS season, and three in a row here at BC Place. There’s nothing left to play for in terms of the postseason, but hopefully we can at least get a little more entertainment than we’ve had the last few times out.