Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New England vs Whitecaps FC Match Preview

Four days after the Whitecaps completed an improbable comeback against Sporting Kansas City, the Whitecaps return to Empire Field to take on the New England Revolution in a mid-week game under the lights.  They face an undefeated team in the Revolution who impressively gained a point in LA against the Galaxy in the opening weekend.  They followed that with with a win versus DCUnited,  The Revolution are coming off a dissapointing match versus the Timbers at home.  They look to remain undefeated early in the  season.



If there was any doubt before as to whom the offense flowed through that was erased on Saturday against SKC when Davide Chiumiento came on as a sub and made a significant difference.  Although Khalfan was the one who set up two of the goals, Chiumiento created space for his teammates by just being on the pitch as well as making a key run that brought the Caps within one.

The Revolution need more consistent contributions from their attackers who are led by the 9th overall pick in 2010 SuperDraft, Zach Schilawski.  The 2nd year player has one already for the Revolution as they hope Schilawski has a better year this year.  2010 saw the rookie score 5 goals but it included a hat trick in the home opener and no goals after May 29.

Because of the lack of production by the Revolution’s strikers, New England likes to push forward its midfielders and Gershon Koffie will be key in shutting down movement in the central midfield.  The young Ghanaian holding midfielder will have to absorb space in the middle of the pitch and deal with the likes of Sharlie Joseph and Steve McCarthy.

So far this season left back Didier Domi has been a revelation for New England.  The former Olympiacos defender is a smart tackler and has shown great pace up and down the left side of the field.  He will have the task of tracking Chiumiento and also will providing attacking runs down the left flank.  The French defender is similar to Alain Rochat as he too has experience at the highest level of play in Europe.

There is no doubt who the man of the match for the Whitecaps was on Saturday and Camilo followed up with MLS Player of the Week honours.  Besides the two score in injury time, Camilo had a couple chances in the 1st half but was robbed Jimmy Nielsen.  Expect the Brazilian striker to get the start alongside Eric Hassli.

MLS veteran, Sharli Joseph, has been terrific for the Revolution since the start of the season having a hand in three of New England’s four goals.  The captain of the team controls the midfield and builds up the attack from his normal holding midfield position.  The Whitecaps will need to find a way to slow the 2009 MLS MVP finalist.

The Whitecaps have been forced to play Blake Wagner because of injuries and international callups.  He struggled at left back against the Philadelphia Union in week 2 and did not show anything special at left wing against Sporting KC last week.  If this club is 100% healthy, don’t expect to see Wagner getting many minutes this year.

The 10th overall pick in the 2009 MLS Super Draft, Kevin Alston, is having trouble finding his defensive side since the start of the season.  He is not closing down on opponents effectively and leaving too many gaps as opponents are consistently finding space on the pitch.

Last Game: 3-3 Draw vs Sporting Kansas City

Last Game:  1-1 Draw vs Portland Timbers


Designated Player Eric Hassli returns from suspension and will most likely start with Camilo upfront which will give Atiba Harris a needed rest.  The pairing of Dunfield and Koffie should continue their partnership in the centre and Chiumiento will start on the right.  Based on his performance last week Khalfan should return to the starting eleven.  A couple of debuts in the midfield may be possible as John Thorrington and Shea Salinas are returning to health.  On the backline Boxall and Leathers will most likely start at their positions.  The question is whether DeMerit is ready to return.  The options are either Rochat at CB and Wagner at LB, or Harmse at CB and Rochat at LB.  My choice would be the latter.  I also feel that Joe Cannon deserves a start if healthy as Jay Nolly struggled last week.

Because the status of the injured players hasn’t changed, I don’t believe there will be many changes to New England’s starting eleven.  Although most have their formation set up as a 4-3-3 when they play it usually turns into 4-2-3-1 with Sharlie Joseph playing in an attacking role.  Another dangerous player is French left back Didier Domi who is playing a similar game to Alain Rochat for the Revolution.   Matt Reis, the goalkeeper, is the biggest question mark as he is listed as being out for the game.  If he is truly unable to play, then look for Bobby Shuttleworth to get the start.

INJURIES (According to MLS Injury Report)
OUT:  MF Michael Nanchoff (groin)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Jay DeMerit (groin), DF Greg Janicki (hip)
PROBABLE:  MF John Thorrington(quad), MF Shea Salinas (knee)

OUT: Matt Reis (adductor)
DOUBTFUL:  DF Franco Coria (hamstring), MF Ousmane Dabo (quad), MF Marko Perovic (hamstring), Andrew Sousa (quad)




The Whitecaps are coming off an emotional comeback and must guard against having a letdown in the match against the Revolution.  What will help them is that this match is only four days later and the last game is fresh on their mind.  The Caps must come out strong and convert on their chances so they don’t fall behind and allow the Revolution to play a tight game.  If New England falls behind it force them to open up their play and thus exposing space for the Caps to attack.  Expect the Revolution to play a tight game similar to the one against LA in their opening match of the season.  The Caps will have to be patient and find space by using the wide players and create space.

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