The Vancouver Whitecaps return to the road and visit Sporting Kansas City, for the second time this year, at Livestrong Park. It was an unforgettable first meeting for the team and its supporters dunned the “Miracle on Hastings” as the Whitecaps came back from a three goal deficit, including scoring two in injury time, to steal a point. The Caps hope they can victimize the Kansas City side and surprise many with their first win on the road this season.
Suspended for the previous match against Sporting, Eric Hassli has been doing well even when he is not scoring. His mere presence on the pitch creates matchup problems for the opposition and helps create space for his teammates on the attack.
Just like Hassli for the Whitecaps, Omar Bravo was unavailable for Kansas City due to suspension for the previous match at Empire. The designated player form Mexico has had to deal with injury issues this year but there is no doubt Bravo is the key to their attack.
Away on international duty for the game at Empire Jay DeMerit will attempt to be the difference in containing a Sporting attack that scored three the first time out. The captain will be factor in dealing with striker Teal Bunbury who scored two of their goals.
The French central defender Aurelien Collin was another one who did not play in the first game but has made a difference since then. Collin has become a solid partner with Matt Besler as both will try to contain Eric Hassli.
WHO’S ON FORM
Returning to the form from early in the season Alain Rochat scored the winner last week that was runner up for the MLS goal of the week. Take away the goal and Rochat was still one of the top players for the Caps especially on the defensive side.
If it was not for Jimmy Nielsen in the first game the Whitecaps would have been in the lead going into the half when they played last against Vancouver. The Danish goalkeeper has kept the struggling side in most games while on the road as they know hope his goaltending will be a difference going forward.
9th in Western Conference
Last Game: 1-0 Win vs Philadelphia Union
9th in Eastern Conference
Last Game: 1-0 Win vs San Jose Earthquakes
OUT: FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee); MF Craig Rocastle (R knee)
PROBABLE: MF Graham Zusi (L ankle)
Expect very few changes in the line-up from last week that picked the club’s second victory of the season against the Union. After a slow start in the beginning of June, the partnership of Eric Hassli and Davide Chiumiento is starting to flourish. This is especially true for Chiumiento who after the switch from wing to withdrawn striker took time to adjust to the new role. Sporting will have to deal with Hassli for the first time this season as the French striker was missing due to suspension.
The sidelines will be patrolled by Salinas and Camilo as both wingers bring pace and make good runs at defenders. Salinas especially seems to have regained his form from the preseason injury that sidelined him at the beginning of the season. The central midfield is a little up in the air as it will be a combo of Dunfield, Brovsky or Koffie starting. While most people are down on Dunfield for the odd giveaway, the former Man City product is the hardest working and best passing central midfielder.
A rarity for the Caps they are starting the same backline for the third straight game as Rochat and Leathers
return to the full back position and DeMerit partners with Boxall centrally. DeMerit, on international duty for their first matchup, will likely matchup with Bunbury while Leather will have the task of slowing Omar Bravo on the attack. The backline will be defending in front of MLS veteran Joe Cannon.
It’s unsure who Sporting Kansas City, as they played a midweek game, will start but the Caps must be prepared for the three pronged attack of Bravo, Bunbury and Kamara. All three are capable of scoring from anywhere near the box and the Caps will need their midfielders to assist on the defensive front. The Caps need to test Jimmy Nielsen regular by moving the attack wide as Sporting’s weakness on the backline are their fullbacks who are either missing on international duty or are injured.
This could be a great opportunity for the Whitecaps to pick up their first victory on the road as this will be their opponent’s second game in three days. Kansas City has yet to be dominate on the home as their best game since the opening of their new park has been on the road in Dallas. One thing is for sure is that the Whitecaps can’t afford to fall behind again by three goals and expect a miracle again.