Fresh off their dominant win over the defending champs, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are back at work on Wednesday night as Columbus Crew come to town. Carl Robinson’s team are red hot after a run of four straight wins. But can they make it five in a row against their Eastern Conference opponents?
Match Day: Wednesday, April 8
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Venue: BC Place
Radio: TSN 1410
Here are three storylines to get you set for tonight’s match.
Top of the pack
The ‘Caps moved into top spot in Major League Soccer on Saturday night after a 2-0 win over LA Galaxy. It was an impressive performance that helped to secure the team’s longest-ever winning streak alongside their best start to an MLS season. Carl Robinson and his team have understandably drawn plaudits from across the league this week, but the Welshman is refusing to get carried away.
“It was a good result for us,” Robinson said after Saturday’s match. “But it was one game. We’ll enjoy it tonight because tomorrow it’s gone. We have a big game on Wednesday.”
That game is a tricky midweek match against a Columbus outfit who’d like nothing more than to topple the league-leaders. The ‘Caps, however, are refusing to rest on their laurels, despite their recent success.
“We treat every team in MLS the same,” Russell Teibert said at training on Tuesday. “It’s going to be a battle.”
Wednesday night will be Vancouver’s second match in the span of a week and with a tricky road match away to San Jose this Saturday, Robinson said he may make “the odd change or two” to his lineup against Columbus.
So who draws in?
There are several options, including Diego Rodriguez, who returns from his two match suspension in time for Wednesday night’s clash, Darren Mattocks, who’s recently impressed on international duty for Jamaica, and Deybi Flores, who’s sparkled during his brief cameos from the bench. With others like Jordan Harvey, Robert Earnshaw and Erik Hurtado waiting in the wings, it will be interesting to see how the ‘Caps line up come 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Despite coming out on top when the final whistle blew, Whitecaps FC only claimed 33.6 per cent off possession in their Cascadia clash with Portland on March 28. In fact, the ‘Caps were outpossessed in each of their three wins leading up until Saturday’s triumph over LA.
“We can keep the ball better, we can dictate more,” Earnshaw said after his game-winning heroics against Portland. “There’s a lot more to come from this team.”
They weren’t just empty words.
In fact, the Blue and White bounced back with possibly their best performance of the season against the defending champs. As well claiming 55 per cent of the possession – though anyone watching the match would have told you it felt like more – Robinson’s team completed a total of 389 passes with a season best 80.71 per cent accuracy.
Keeping a hold of the ball will once again be key to victory on Wednesday night, especially against a Columbus team who pride themselves on their possession. The visitors rank second in MLS passing accuracy and lead MLS with an average of 56.3 per cent possession so far this season.