Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nutrilite Championship Final: 1st Leg Match Preview



After getting the weekend off due to an “injury” Eric Hassli should start versus the team which he debuted against and scored two goals.  Hopefully the week off will help improve his ability to make that last touch in the final third which has been lacking in the previous few matches.

The TFC captain, Maicon Santos, scored against Vancouver in week one and the team needs him to lead them in this game as well.  He’s been coming off the bench lately but should see a start especially with Alan Gordon unavailable due to a hamstring.


Another player who was left behind Alain Rochat had previously played every minute and was deemed exhausted by the coach.  With DeMerit back leading the backline it should free up Rochat to take more liberties moving into the attack.

In their first meeting Adrian Cann played at left back which wasn’t his normal position and it showed as the Canadian international was horrible in the opener.  Cann has been moved back to the centre and while there may be some chemistry issues with the new backline, at least Cann is looking more comfortable.


Making the trip to New England last week Davide Chiumiento only played twelve minutes in the 1-0 loss to the Revolution.  In the opener Chiumiento dominated TFC in the first and only half he played in that game and will play on the left side this time allowing him to connect with Rochat more.

Two weeks ago the diminutive rookie, Joao Plata, was named MLS Man of the Week and continued his strong play last week with a goal versus Chicago.  Winter has claimed that his minutes will be managed so it is unsure whether he starts or comes off the bench.


Last Game: 1-0 Loss at New England Revolution

Last Game:  2-2 Draw vs Chicago Fire


Up front the Whitecaps will start Hassli, hoping he can find the same form from the opener, with either Salgado or Camilo.  The Brazilian had the weekend off while Salgado started against the Revolution.  Three of the four midfield spots should be set as Dunfield and Koffie start in the middle and Chiumiento will be one of the wide midfield spots.  The fourth spot is be either Teibert, Salinas or Khalfan.  The backline should have DeMerit and Akloul in the middle with Leathers and Rochat returning to start at fullback and of course Nolly in net.
With Gordon unavailable Santos starts in up front in the middle of Winter’s 4-3-3, with the wingers being a combination of Martina, Plata, Peterson, Stevanovic, or Soolsma.  In the midfield de Guzman starts with Tchani and most likely Peterson.  The backline has Williams starting with Cann and Eckersley and Borman on the outside and Gargan and Attakora available to start as well.  Frei will be the last line of defence for TFC.


OUT:  FW Atiba Harris (knee), MF John Thorrington(calf), FW Long Tan (foot)
PROBABLE:  FW Eric Hassli (hamstring)

OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (knee), FW Alan Gordon (adductor)
DOUBTFUL:  DF Mikael Yourassowsky (knee)
QUESTIONABLE:  FW Keith Makubuya (adductor), Gianluca Zavarise (adductor)




If the Whitecaps have any chance to win the Nutrilite they will need a winning result against TFC on Wednesday at Empire.  Unfortuantely because of the Stanley Cup Playoffs it may not be the same atmosphere that greeted TFC in the home opener almost two months ago as most will want to watch the Canucks play in Game 2.  This will probably be the most rested and healthiest starting eleven Teitur Thoradson has had the ability to put onto the pitch.  The main difference between the squad that took the field on March 19th and the one two months later is that the Caps are playing better defensively but are now struggling to find goals.

Toronto FC, roster wise, will be a total different team that took the pitch in opener as there may be as few as four players starting in both games.  The Whitecaps will have to watch for their fullbacks as the two players show more attacking ability than the opening starters.  TFC also has available to them their designated player as midfielder Julian deGuzamn was missing due to a knee injury.  Another couple of improved spots should be their wing play as they have had time to improve from disorganized play two months ago.

A strong start will be vital to the Caps securing their first Nutrilite Championship and will be their first major trophy since entering the MLS.  It also gives them the opportunity to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament which will get them on a bigger scale where they can start the first step of becoming a “top 25 club in the world”.  If the Caps get a tie and give up an away goal or outright lose the match, it will make the task of winning the title harder as the second leg is in Toronto one week from Wednesday.

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