Despite a 1-0 road defeat in San Jose the Vancouver Whitecaps still stand alone atop the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings. A 4 match winning streak was put to the test when the Canadian club played 3 matches over the course of one week. A dominant 2-0 home victory over the defending champions was followed up with a 2-2 midweek draw against the Crew.
Like the match against the Galaxy, Vancouver’s attack was stunning to watch. It really was a match Vancouver should have made their 5th consecutive victory but alas the defense was not up to par. Pa-Modou Kah made several blatant mistakes which cost his team dearly and the experienced Kei Kamara found the back of the net twice for the visitors. The surprise of the match was Darren Mattocks who had one of his best performances in a ‘Caps jersey. He tracked back and prevented a Crew counterattack on several occasions while consistently winning seconds balls before he was eventually rewarded with a goal.
After facing Columbus the Whitecaps went on the road to San Jose and fell 1-0. It was a dismal match. The kind that when the final whistle blows you begin to brainstorm ways to regain those lost 2 hours of your life. Disjointed passing and little creativity going forward by both teams meant the match was going to be a doozy. It was bound to happen at some point. That is the price you pay with a roster heavily laden with youth.
Next on the docket is a visit to Utah to face Salt Lake. Each time these teams met up last season the result was a hotly contested match full of passion and it was great to see. This league continues to add talented players each year who thrive on that kind of environment. Earlier this week the Whitecaps failed to appeal the red card that was shown to captain Pedro Morales late in the match versus the Earthquakes. This means that Nico Mezquida or a returning Mauro Rosales could replace him in the middle of the field. Head coach Carl Robinson could also choose to switch up his formation to a 4-4-2 diamond. Robbo has the depth to make this change especially with the recent emergence of Mattocks and Robert Earnshaw eagerly awaiting his chance.
There weren’t many positives to take from the match in San Jose but the brightest light of hope came when Kianz Froese subbed into the match. His composer is truly exciting to witness especially since he turned 19 earlier this week. He has earned 66 minutes as a sub this season after signing with the senior team late in 2014. During training this week Carl spoke highly of Froese stating that Kianz is “doing himself a lot of favors.” It really is only a matter of time before Froese is awarded with his first MLS start and this weekend’s match against RSL could be the perfect time.
Sam Adekugbe was rested in San Jose and Jordan Harvey was given only his second start of the season. I seriously doubt that he did enough to keep Adekugbe on the bench so expect Sam to return to the starting lineup in Utah. The injury that central defender Diego Rodriguez picked up during the Crew match prevented him from playing in San Jose but I believe that once he has healed he will replace Pa-Modou Kah on the backline. Kah has attributes which make him a strong backup in this league but he makes unforced errors far too often and the reality is he is the weakest link in the starting eleven and while he is a starter this team will never be a cup contender. Real Salt Lake will have seen the tapes and will look to exploit his over aggressiveness.
Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls are the only two teams yet to suffer a defeat this season and RSL currently sit 4th in the Western Conference. The likes of Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio mean RSL are a constant threat and will prove to be a stiff challenge for the Whitecaps. A draw would be a positive result for Vancouver and it would give them a chance to rebound from a subpar performance in San Jose.