The Vancouver Whitecaps continue their road trip with their first trip to Rio Tinto Stadium to play Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. It is their second of a three match road trip which they started with 1-1 draw against Chivas USA in the mid-week match.
After coming off of a preseason injury Shea Salinas has slowly got himself into the flow of the game with his dangerous one on one runs into the box. The havoc that these runs cause the opposition backline is very important to the Whitecaps especially with Hassli missing.
While the coaching staff doesn’t expect Ned Grabavoy to replace the injured Morales as their main playmaker, he still is a very dangerous player in the middle of the pitch. Grabavoy will be connecting with Beckerman and be in charge of the distribution in the final third.
If the Whitecaps have any chance to get a result they will need to win the battle of the midfield and Gershon Koffie will be a key to win that battle. He stepped up his game against Chivas with Dunfield away on international duty and will need to again to get a positive result.
One of the best holding midfielders in MLS Kyle Beckerman is the field general that Real Salt Lake missed at the CONCACAF Champions Final. Beckerman is great at getting the ball from the backline and quickly pushing the ball forward on the counter attack.
WHO’S ON FORM
While he had gone more than a month without scoring goal Camilo has been one of the more dangerous players for the Whitecaps. He was finally rewarded with his fourth of the season against Chivas while playing on the wing and may move back to striker against RSL.
The two goals they gave up to Seattle matched the number they gave up all season and central defender Nat Borschers is a big reason for the stellar defense. The veteran will be counted on to continue his strong play especially with his partner Olave suspended and goalkeeper Rimaldo at the Gold Cup.
9th in Western Conference
Last Game: 1-1 Draw at Chivas USA
5th in Western Conference
Last Game: 2-1 Loss vs. Seattle Sounders
DOUBTFUL: DF Jonathan Leathers (calf)
PROBABLE: FW Long Tan (foot)
DOUBTFUL: FW Donny Toia (ankle)
PROBABLE: MF Collen Warner (ankle)
The first game after a coaching change can be a boost for a team but if the coach brings a new formation, changes tactics and makes line-up changes it still will take time to adjust. The Caps seemed to take their time to get into the flow of the game as for the first twenty minutes they looked unsure of themselves. They started playing well until Hassli received a red card putting the team on its heels being a man down.
Even if Hassli was available for the match against RSL it would be a large task for the Caps, without him it would be a miracle as RSL rarely gives up a goal. Expect the Caps to either bring in Salagdo or move Camilo to striker and bring in Teibert to the left wing. Chiumiento will most likely get another opportunity as a withdrawn striker, while Salinas and Koffie shout start again as well. The other central midfield spot might see Morfaw starting again or could go to Peter Vagenas make his Whitecap debut. On the backline DeMerit and Rochat are definite starters while either Akloul or Janicki finding a spot in the middle and either Knight or Duckett on the right side. Joe Cannon is most likely to start again in goal.
It won’t be easy to score on Real Salt Lake as they have only allowed four goals this season including the two last week versus Seattle. What may help the Whitecaps is that the fact RSL is missing their large defender Olave missing due to suspension and goalkeeper Rimaldo away with the United States at the Gold Cup. In addition to those players they are missing, to international duty, starters Saborio, Alvarez and Canadian midfielder Will Johnson. Unfortunately for the Caps their opposition have one of the deepest rosters in the MLS and even though they played Concacaf Champions playoffs they were given many weeks off so they are not overworked at this part of the season.
This will be the second match under Tom Soehn and while many around the MLS world might believe there is very little reason to believe that the Caps have a chance at a result, the players must go into the game thinking anything is possible. They must administer their new tactics that Soehn has introduced in order to get some continuity into their game. If the Whitecaps are unable to get a result at Rio Tinto then keeping it close would be just as good as a lopsided score line could be demoralizing to the team and have people outside the club question the new coach immediately which may put the organization in a worse position.