After a 3-1 home defeat to Toronto FC, the Vancouver Whitecaps head to Chicago for their first away game of the season. Carl Robinson and Frank Yallop are quick to admit how familiar they are in regards to their respective coaching and tactical approaches. However, after seeing the tactics Robinson displayed versus Toronto FC, it could be argued the entire league now knows how to defeat the Whitecaps.
This means that Vancouver fans are about to see just how talented of a coach Carl Robinson really is. Will the former Welsh international be able to adapt or will he continue to rely on speed? The blazing speed that most of Vancouver’s attacking force possesses is a luxury which should be harnessed and carefully used to exploit weaknesses. With the creative prowess of Morales, Rosales and Mezquida at his command, continually lumping long balls forward to sprinting forwards should be well in the past. After TFC scored their second against the Whitecaps, Robinson subbed in Erik Hurtado which was a mindboggling decision. Especially considering how it was clear to everyone watching that TFC had cracked the code and were at last stuffing out Vancouver’s speed advantage. In that case it seems like the tricky feet of Mezquida or Bustos would have been more appropriate.
The Chicago Fire were infamous last season for the number of draws they earned and this last offseason they went on a shopping spree. Their biggest acquisitions were forward Kennedy Igboanike and midfielder Shaun Maloney. After falling 2-0 against the Galaxy on opening weekend, the Fire will surely look to press the Whitecaps early in the first half. Frank Yallop and his men will have to be very careful because they are up against one of, if not, the deadliest counter-attacking team in MLS. One mistake or moment of lapse concentration and Kekuta Manneh could be on a breakaway. David Accam, the Fire’s third pricey addition, has been suffering from a groin strain which means he will likely miss this weekend’s match. While Robinson tries to create a new attacking approach, his Chicago counterpart is trying to find the best combination of his attacking assets.
Chicago Fire will have seen the tape and they will have a plan in place to stop Vancouver. The Whitecaps could opt for dropping Teibert to the bench and move Morales to a deeper playmaker role, which would enable Mezquida to joy the fray. My biggest cause for concern is central defense pairing of Waston and Kah. Yes, they are big and physical, which is needed in MLS. But they can also be defensive liabilities, especially the latter. I hope to see Diego Rodriguez get the start replacing Kah. During preseason, Rodriguez proved he is worthy of becoming a regular starter. The other question regarding Vancouver’s defense is whether or not Sam Adekugbe will replace Jordan Harvey. After his dismal performance against TFC, I believe Harvey is well and truly hanging onto his starting position by a thread. It has been suggest by other media personal that his poor performance was a result of his role in the CBA discussions. I don’t entirely agree with this rational but I will concur that it is enough to give him one more shot against the Fire. If he fails again, then it is time for Adekugbe to start.
While I still believe the loss to Toronto was a positive result in the essences it gave the Whitecaps a reality check, now is the time to rebound and show they can learn from their mistakes. If Robinson’s team takes the right step and shows that they are more than just a one-dimensional team, then they could set themselves up nicely for future success.