Still buzzing from their massive 1-0 home victory over the Colorado Rapids which earned Vancouver a playoff berth, the Whitecaps head to Texas to take on FC Dallas. While many MLS experts have chosen Dallas to coast to an easy home victory over the Whitecaps this game has upset written all over it.
Over the last 5 games of the regular season the Whitecaps picked up 13 out of a possible 15 points as they snuck past the Timbers and claimed 5th in the west. Dallas earned a respectable 9 points from their last 5 games including an impressive 2-1 home victory over the Galaxy before finishing the regular season with an embarrassing 2-0 loss to the Timbers. In the world of professional sports momentum is everything. Oscar Pareja and his players would likely never admit it but that home loss to the Timbers was likely enough to place a seed of doubt in their minds. Then add in the fact that the second last loss of their season came at the hands of the Whitecaps. Sure that loss occurred on the road in Vancouver but witnessing that game live it was not a regular loss. The Whitecaps dominated Dallas in a game both teams wanted to win.
Regardless of the possible uncertainty in the FC Dallas camp they are still an incredibly dangerous team. The likes of Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, and Blas Perez will all be a challenge for the Vancouver defence. That being said the Whitecaps have shown they possess just as many weapons. Super sub Kekuta Manneh has been a thorn in opposition’s side as his blazing speed gives tired defenders a massive headache. Pedro Morales has been getting progressively less effective as the season has worn on due to the fact that he has not had a break in well over a year. That being said, a tired Morales is still more dangerous than 99% of MLS players. The arrival of towering giant Kendall Waston, who headed home the game winning goal against the Rapids, has made the Whitecaps a very dangerous set piece team.
Whitecap defender Steven Beitashour picked up a hamstring injury early in the first half against the Rapids on the weekend and as a result he will be sidelined for tonight’s game. He will likely be replaced by Sam Adekugbe who filled in for him on the weekend. This change will not be a major concern for head coach Carl Robinson, as Adekugbe has not look out of place when called upon to fill in. An academy graduate, Adekugbe is just one of the many promising young players who are pushing for first team minutes.
If the Whitecaps are to earn a result in Dallas they must play to their strengths. They will be looking for set pieces and for chances to catch Dallas on the counter. If they play their cards just right and possibly grab an early goal the Whitecaps could just emerge as victors.
(image courtesy of The Canadian Press)