We’re down to the final three matches of the regular season and every roll of the ball will be important. The Vancouver Whitecaps are fighting for their playoff lives so I connected with our friends over at Eighty Six Forever to find out what Sporting Kansas City’s can expect Wednesday night.
Cody Bradley: The Whitecaps fired Carl Robinson at the end of September. Who will replace him? What’s been the impact on the field so far, if any?
86Forever: The prevailing opinion is that Marc dos Santos is the most likely to replace him. Actually, it is thought that the Caps made the odd choice to fire Robinson with only a handful of matches left because there was fear they would not be able to get their first (or second) choice replacement as several teams have been starting their hiring process (e.g., San Jose). The news last week of San Jose hiring a new manager not named Marc dos Santos probably made the Caps front office happy.
As for impact on the field, we have seen a bit of a difference. Carl Robinson has preferred to play 4-2-3-1 for most of his time as manager, with a slight change of late to a 4-4-2. The new manager, Craig Dalrymple, has played a 4-1-4-1. Despite the change, the player personnel has been similar. However, there have been a few noticeable changes. First, longest serving Whitecaps Russell Teibert has found himself (justifiably) starting, but more importantly in an offensive position rather than defensive. He scored his first goal in five years, last match, as a result of the change. Another surprise has been Brek Shea appearing to be the preferred choice over Cristian Techera. This is puzzling as Shea has done little since the beginning of the season, while the Caps simply win with Techera in the lineup. During his tenure, when he has scored a goal or had an assist, the Whitecaps have 24 wins, 9 draws, and ZERO losses.
CB: Vancouver is three points behind 6th place in the West. Are they going to leapfrog LA & RSL in the final three matches to make the postseason?
86F: Nope! I am sure you want a longer answer than that, but there is not a lot of optimism around Whitecaps land. Fans and pundits are already looking towards the off-season. If they somehow get in, it will be impressive, as they will have to get at least two wins against SKC, LAFC (away), and Portland (home). Not an easy task. A loss to Sporting on Wednesday night basically seals the small opening.
CB: How will this international break affect the Vancouver lineup?
86F: MASSIVELY! Seven (now six) of the Whitecaps starters from the previous match are away. Both central defenders (Waston and Henry) and primary defensive midfielders (Ghazal and Teibert) are away. Their young star Davies will be gone as is their primary playmaker in Reyna (away with Peru). It was expected that their top scorer, Kamara, would be absent as well, but Caps fans were ‘lucky’ that FIFA banned Sierra Leone from international soccer. The gist of the above is that the entire spine of the Whitecaps, less the goalkeeper, are away on international duty.
Eighty Six Forever Predictions
(4-1-4-1) Marinovic, Nerwinski, Aja, Maund, Levis, Juarez, Techera, Mezquida, Mutch, Shea, Kamara
Whitecaps 1 Sporting 1