Tonight the Whitecaps will play their last game in a 3 game home stretch as their playoff hopes teeter on a knife edge. An embarrassing 3-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers followed a week later by a 0-0 stalemate against DC United means the ‘Caps have only earned 1 out of a possible 6 points during their home stretch.
Vancouver is currently on a 411 minute scoreless streak which is their longest scoreless streak since joining MLS. And with no real signs of it ending, spirits are low in Whitecaps land as the team was booed off the pitch after back-to-back pathetic home displays. After the Timbers prevented Vancouver’s midfield from creating chances the ‘Caps midfield were able to get back to their old groove against DC. This was arguably due to the switch in formation from Robinson’s trusted 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2. Sebastian Fernandez joined Darren Mattocks up top and the pair had many chances to put their team ahead but alas their shots were closer to hitting the Dark side of the Moon rather than United’s net.
Robinson was force to tinker with his defense against United due to a Steven Beitashour hip injury. Luckily his replacement, Ethen Sampson, performed admirably. The status of Beitashour’s injury is unclear as we head into tonight’s game. I would not be surprised to see Robinson be cautious and rest Steven. Sampson was also subbed out during the United game. Jordan Harvey switched sides to cover the vacant position and was replaced by Sam Adekugbe. If Sampson isn’t healed we will surely see this defensive combination against San Jose.
Darren Mattocks was recently called up his Jamaican national team for their friendly against Canada. Mattocks picked up a slight ankle injury before making the trip to Toronto so he opted to stay with the Whitecaps. With his injury status also in question we could see Manneh start up top with Fernandez. In my opinion this is the best option since Manneh has enjoyed zero success as a winger this season.
The Whitecaps have relished in a great amount of success against the Earthquakes as they have only lost once to San Jose in the last 4 seasons. That being said Chris Wondolowski has been a constant thorn in Vancouver’s side scoring 9 goals including 3 braces. San Jose has also struggled to win lately but unlike the Whitecaps this isn’t due to goal scoring woes. On Sunday evening they visited Portland and scored 3 only to see their lead escape their grasp as they were forced to settle for the 3-3 draw.
The Whitecaps are still in the playoff race but anything less than 3 points tonight could be the beginning of the end for Vancouver.
(image courtesy of Reuters)