After a ten day break the Vancouver Whitecaps return to action to face the MLS leading Los Angeles Galaxy at Empire Field. The Galaxy come north of the border, without Beckham, on a thirteen game unbeaten streak while the Whitecaps are still looking their third victory. While it is the first matchup in league action, the two clubs have played friendlies in the past.
After playing 57 minutes in his league debut, newest DP Mustafa Jarju has had an extended break to get himself into game shape and used to his teammates. He connected well with Hassli and the other Whitecaps in San Jose and came within a couple of feet of scoring in his first match.
While he may be listed as questionable to play Landon Donovan is the team’s best attacking option coming off the wing position. Often it is the American international who leads the Galaxy counter attack, finishing the runs himself as he leads the club in scoring with nine.
Attending to his wife and newborn Alain Rochat missed the last match and it showed as time and time again the backline were disorganized. Whether he plays on the left or centrally, Rochat has a calming influence in the defensive third and is counted on as a leader.
One of the best left backs in MLS Todd Dunivant may be asked to play a central role on the backline if Omar Gonzalez is unable to play. The former TFC player is the only member of the Galaxy to play every minute so far this season.
WHO’S ON FORM
The big Frenchman, Eric Hassli, played his role as a designated player perfectly in the last game against San Jose as he scored twice and brought the Caps back to capture a draw. Hassli is also holding up the ball well allowing teammates to find the space in the final third to make their runs.
If he were playing then Beckham would be listed here, so the honour falls to the Brazilian midfielder Juninho who has contributed with goals and assists this season. Playing opposite of Donovan, he is a threat to score from anywhere and his goals tend to be of the spectacular variety.
9th in Western Conference
Last Game: 2-2 Draw at San Jose Earthquakes
1st in Western Conference
Last Game: 1-0 Win vs Columbus
PROBABLE: DF Jay DeMerit (adductor), MF John Thorrington (calf)
QUESTIONABLE: FW Juan Pablo Angel (Calf/Achilles), FW Chad Barrett (knee), MF Paolo Cardozo (adductor), MF Landon Donovan (calf), DF Omar Gonzalez (nose)
The Whitecaps showed some promise in their last match against San Jose and look to turn that promise into results against the top team in MLS. Even without Beckham and possibly Donovan, the Galaxy are still one of the toughest opponents the Caps will face this year. They play a very disciplined game especially on the backline and the Whitecaps must stay patient and not get caught out of position on the counter attack.
The Caps will most likely start their two designated player up top with Hassli and Jarju attempting to form a solid striking partnership. Coming off their best performance as a group the midfield should start Camilo and Salinas on the wings with Vagenas and Koffie in the middle of the pitch. There is a chance that Chiumiento may find a spot somewhere in the midfield. The backline will be reinforced with Harvey and Rochat returning to starting eleven as they are joined by Boxall and Leathers. It was reported that there may be a chance that Jay Nolly starts in goal with Cannon showing a limp so that spot looks to be up in the air.
The Whitecaps may have dodged a bullet with the Beckham suspension coming at a perfect time for them as the English superstar has been very influential in the Galaxy matches recently. In fact he has either scored or assisted on all of LA’s goals this month and also has eight assists so far this season. There are multiple questions for the Galaxy when it concerns their starting eleven as a number of players including Donovan are nursing minor injuries.
Vancouver, in order to get the three points, must play their game and must not turn the ball over in dangerous areas as their opponents will make them pay for their mistakes. The Midfield is starting to come together and provided good service to the strikers in the San Jose match. If they solidify the backline and plug the leaks that were visible in their last game, the Whitecaps could surprise and pick up their third win of the season.