Back in May, the Vancouver Whitecaps scored in the 94th minute to steal a 1-1 draw at Children’s Mercy Park. The teams will meet again on Saturday, this time in Canada. Sporting Kansas City will look to build off a much needed win last weekend as they face another team struggling at the bottom of the West.
I exchanged questions with our friends at Eighty Six Forever in order to get a better look at the match-up this time around.
We ask them...
On Saturday the Whitecaps will be without Fredy Montero, who leads them in goals & assists. Has he lived up to expectations since making his return to the team?
In all honesty, Montero has been a disappointment in his second stint with Vancouver. While he leads the team in goals and assists, four of his goals have come from the penalty spot. Meanwhile his leading the club with two assists is more of an indictment on the lack of support the midfield and wings have been providing. More concerning is that Montero has looked very disconnected from his teammates. I am not sure what it is as he has never been lazy and Marc Dos Santos employs a system that should benefit Montero’s style. Hopefully he can turn it around but right now, like the other offensive pieces picked up prior to the season, he is looking like a disappointment. This is made worse by last year’s striker Kei Kamara having a strong season in Colorado.
I asked about our old friend Marc Dos Santos last time these teams played. But he appears to hitting a speed bump for one of the first times as a head coach. Is he taking a lot of heat from fans right now?
Yes and no. The fans have been very patient with him as they seem to understand the need to build. In addition, the club does appear to have a better identity than under Carl Robinson, so there is cautious hope. However, even non-casual fans are getting a bit frustrated as the play over the last month or two is eerily similar to what we saw under Robinson. I believe that MDS has a long leash and he has the support of fans but there is fear that we are going down a similar road. Luckily for MDS a lot of the fan fury is targeted towards the unwillingness of ownership to purchase talent. Adnan was a good pickup and may be a sign of things changing in Vancouver, but fans are pessimistic.
Vancouver is coming off the beat down from LAFC last week and a Canadian Championship match on Wednesday, what kind of lineup are you expecting?
Vancouver has been, and will be, playing every Wednesday and Saturday, so the lineup can be a challenge. This is made worse by the lack of depth on the roster. While MDS held back some of his big, BIG, guns against Calgary, many did play on Wednesday. However, with this Wednesday being a cross-continent trip to Boston, to take on New England, it is likely that MDS prioritizes this home match against a Western rival just above them in the standings. I expect a full-strength lineup. Crepeau, Nerwinski, Godoy, Henry, Adnan, Erice, Hwang, Teibert, Reyna, Ardaiz, and Venuto.
Eighty Six Forever Prediction:
The Vancouver Whitecaps MUST win this match. They are in a tough part of their schedule and this is a home match against the club just above them in the standings. Lose and they are even further down in the hole. Win and they can maybe salvage this season. Final score: 2-1 Vancouver. Most likely though is a draw.
They ask us...
Sporting Kansas City find themselves in an unfamiliar spot, sitting 10th in the West. What has led to the poor season thus far?
As you mentioned, the fan base here is not familiar with this. So every single thing you could blame a bad run of form on, has been blamed by somebody. From “just injuries” all the way to “Fire Vermes”. The injuries have been truly insane. As bad as I’ve ever seen this team deal with. They lost key players up front, in the midfield, and in the defense as well. You may be able to put some blame on the intense schedule they had to open the season. The off season ended early to get them game fit for Concacaf Champions League and a crushing defeat in that competition put some hurt on them. HERE is a letter written by Matt Besler to fans about the struggle.
I believe it was a compilation. They were tired and emotionally defeated after the CCL loss. Went into a bad run of form and key players got hurt. Then they lost confidence and it snowballed. But players are starting to return and we’ve seen some signs of life.
SKC have three players with 7 goals accounting for nearly 75% of their goals. In addition, SKC has a goal differential of -5. Which has been more of a problem and why: relying too heavily on a couple of players offensively or being unable to keep the ball out of their net defensively?
This team will pride itself in being able to score from anywhere on the field. That is a point of pride. The problem has been on the other end. They have used an absurd 14 different combinations on the back line this season! The injuries have led to inconsistency everywhere. Peter Vermes runs this team like a machine. Everyone must know every single thing required of them, and if they switch off for even one play, everything falls apart. So a lack of consistency back there has been quite devastating.
Another thing that could be mentioned here is that Tim Melia was on another world the last couple years. This team won points it had no business winning because Melia would make a miraculous save to bail them out and secure the draw or the win. This year, he’s come down to planet earth and played like a human being. Not bad... just not the guy that bailed them out time and time again.
Both SKC and Vancouver fell victim to LAFC this past week, losing 5-1 and 6-1 respectively. Why do you feel SKC had problems with LAFC, especially given that it was a home match?
Just going to go ahead and state the obvious here: Los Angeles Football Club is really good and Sporting KC is bad.
It’s definitely not that simple and I don’t believe SKC is a bad team. But I think it goes along with the confidence thing I mentioned. That was a really, really rough game for so many fans in Kansas City. A low point not just for the season, but perhaps since the re-brand and move into this stadium. They played like a defeated team. Vermes and Co. pride themselves on giving the fans a treat at home and this match was just a total departure from what they stand for. I don’t think giving some technical explanation of LA’s game plan and why it worked against SKC is even all that relevant here. They simply lacked the confidence they needed to win, missed a penalty kick, and then were forced to really start chasing when it was 3-0. On the other side, LAFC were truly lethal in this one. The stat line shows they only had four “big chances” and they scored five goals. Seriously, watch the highlights. The first two goals were fantastic. A red hot team faced a beaten down team and it showed.
The Blue Testament Prediction:
In a must win game for both teams... it’ll be a draw. 2-2