Three Keys Ahead of 40th Anniversary Showdown

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Whitecaps 74 Home Team Color

The last time Whitecaps supporters had a victory to celebrate the Canucks were still in season.

Yes Caps’ fans you have to go all the way back to March 31 to find the last time that the lads in blue and white collected three points in a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo at B.C.Place Stadium. In the four matches since then the Caps’ have only managed two out of a possible eight points and have seen opportunities pass in being unable to hold onto leads against both the Colorado Rapids and Los Angeles Galaxy and dropping points in the process.

However, football can be a strange game. Amidst the struggles to put together a full 90 minute effort, they’ve still been able to find ways to stay in games where they’ve had no business being in. At home to the Galaxy they found themselves behind twice and were able to earn a point thanks to Kekuta Manneh’s late-game heroics. In Salt Lake they were completely outclassed and found themselves down 2-0 at half-time when Uruguyan rookie Nicolas Mezquida’s equalizer set the stage for fellow countrymen Sebastian Fernandez to steal the headlines with a brilliant strike from distance in stoppage time.

To fully enjoy the 40th annivesary of the Vancouver Whitecaps first ever professional game tomorrow against the San Jose Earthquakes, the ‘Caps will need to pull it all together for the full 90 minutes.

Three Key Storylines

Where’s Wondo?

Since their arrival into Major League Soccer in 2011, the Whitecaps have been unable to find any answers for Earthquakes’ striker Chris Wondolowski. In eight career games against the Whitecaps, Wondolowski has netted seven goals, most of which at close-range from set pieces or transition play. When Wondolowski scores, the Whitecaps are 1-1-3 (W -L -D), and when he does not score their record improves to 2-0-1. The ‘Caps have never been all that good at defending set pieces, but the one thing they must do on Saturday afternoon is closely mark and track Wondolowski at all times.

Beitashour faces former team

Saturday will mark the first time that Whitecaps’ right back and San Jose native Steven Beitashour will face his former team since an off-season trade that brought the all-star defender to Vancouver. Beitashour was brought in to replace Y.P. Lee, who retired at the end of last season, but has not brought the same type of offensive flair as of yet. Defensively Beitashour has been one of the ‘Caps best and should come in handy in trying to contain Chris Wondolowski. He’s been solid in his tackles and has been difficult to beat one-on-one this season while rarely being caught out of position. Look for the same hard-nosed play on Saturday against one of the best strikers in the MLS.

Getting off to a good start

Last game against Real Salt Lake, the Whitecaps were on their heels for the majority of the first half and spent a lot of time and energy defending. Salt Lake was putting on a passing clinic and was easily breaking down Vancouver’s back line. They were rewarded for their efforts in the form of two quick first half goals and it looked like the game was over after only 45 minutes. When Vancouver has been successful, they are the ones pushing the pace offensively and controlling the play with their passing. They use their speed to get in behind the opposition and force defenders to make decisions before they’re ready. In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen two great comebacks, but frequently playing from behind is not going to help Vancouver win games. This team is built to play the possession game and to use their speed to beat the often slower defenders. It is crucial that they find a way to get off to a quick start and learn to play with the lead.

The best way to honour the 1974 Vancouver Whitecaps will be with a win against San Jose, a team that defeated them 40 years ago and rained on the inaugural season celebrations.

 

Feature Image: NASL Jerseys  

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Ryan Lehal Sports Columnist. Kwantlen Journalism Grad.
@ryan19l

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