After a huge 2-0 home victory over the San Jose Earthquakes, the Vancouver Whitecaps head south to play conference rivals FC Dallas. After ending their longest scoreless streak since joining MLS at 450 min, the spirit in the Whitecaps camp has significantly improved. Their playoff hopes have been given a much needed boost as they now have reclaimed the 5th playoff spot and hold a 2 point lead on 6th place Portland Timbers.
The 2-0 victory over the Earthquakes saw Pedro Morales score his 8th goal of the season as Kendall Waston was taken down in the box and Morales beat San Jose goalie Jon Busch on the resulting penalty kick. The Whitecaps dominated San Jose and were rewarded in the 56th minute when Kendall Waston scored a beautiful diving header from a Morales corner kick. It was Waston’s first since joining Vancouver during the summer transfer window. The Whitecaps have lacked a player who can be a threat on set pieces and now they have that missing piece. Waston is a giant and I am confident this isn’t the last time Vancouver fans will be celebrating a header goal from Waston. The Whitecaps had several more golden opportunities to increase their lead but alas their young strikers could not find the back of the net.
There remains some question marks around who will start against Dallas. Head coach Carl Robinson hinted that he might rest veteran center back Andy O’Brien and give rookie Christian Dean the start beside Waston. The health of Steven Beitashour also remains questionable. If Beitashour isn’t ready to start we could see a very young backline for Vancouver.
The switch to a 4-4-2 for the Whitecaps has certainly been a blessing so far. With Laba dropping deep he is still able to protect the back line while also pushing up to provide a passing option when the team is in the attack. Russell Teibert has regained his starting position and he was my Man of the Match against San Jose. He was superb at tracking back and also looked dangerous in front of goal. Teibert is seen by many in the Whitecaps organization as the future captain of this team so it is good to see him succeed. Now he just needs to be more consistent.
The Whitecaps have never won in Dallas so this match will be a massive test for them. Collecting all 3 points could not only difference between playoffs or no playoffs but also the difference between 5th and 4th in the standings. Dallas sits comfortably in 4th and if the Whitecaps could somehow manage to smash and grab 3 points they could make a push for 4th.
As we approach the end of the regular season the Whitecaps are also in a race with Toronto FC for the 2015 Canadian Championship title. Vancouver has played 1 more game than Toronto and have a 4 point lead. With the recent poor performances by Toronto FC and the return of Jermain Defoe looking less and less likely, it seems that the Whitecaps have a very good chance of capturing the 2015 CCL spot.
(image courtesy of Reuters)