Match preview: Whitecaps FC look to extinguish lowly Chicago Fire

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After a big come from behind win against the Portland Timbers last Saturday, the Vancouver Whitecaps (4W-5L-2D, 14pts, – 7th Western Conference) are back in action tonight when they will face the lowly Chicago Fire (1W-2L-4D, 7pts – 10th Eastern Conference).

Image: Vancouver Whitecaps FC / Facebook

SEE ALSO: Jordan Harvey set to pass Gershon Koffie for Whitecaps FC games played club record

Matchup

Venue: BC Place
Date/Time: Wednesday, May 11th @ 7 p.m.
TV: TSN2
Radio: TSN 1040

Derby wins are big wins

The Whitecaps’ 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers was huge for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the Whitecaps dominated Portland on the stats sheet en route to their first come-from-behind win since September 2014.

Secondly, a convincing win over one of your biggest rivals is always a big confidence builder.

While the ‘Caps have struggled at times this season, the wins over FC Dallas and Portland have shown us what this team is capable of when they’re firing on all cylinders. The big concern is while the Whitecaps have elevated their game and defeated some of their biggest rivals, they haven’t been able to consistently take care of business against Major League Soccer’s bottom dwellers.

Picking up the scoring slack

Beleaguered striker Octavio Rivero finally tallied his first goal of 2016 in the 3-2 loss at Yankee Stadium ten days ago. In a cruel twist of fate Rivero was forced to leave the match shortly thereafter with a sprained ankle.

Recently frustrated fans and pundits alike were calling for the Uruguayan to be benched, but there was another problem: Rivero was not the only Whitecap who couldn’t score.

Pedro Morales, with four goals from the penalty spot, is still the Whitecaps’ leading goal scorer. Until newcomer Christian Bolaños recently rediscovered the form that made him a key part of Costa Rica’s 2014 World Cup squad, the Whitecaps’ second leading scorer was fullback Jordan Harvey.

bolanos-goal

With three goals in three games from Bolaños, and the likes of Kekuta Manneh and Japanese phenom Masato Kudo adding a goal or two here and there, have the Whitecaps finally solved their scoring woes? Only time will tell, but with eight goals in four matches perhaps they’re finally figuring it out.

Gotta win them winnable games

The Whitecaps find themselves in the middle of another busy week. While on paper Portland last weekend was the toughest match of the three, there is no guarantee that either the Chicago Fire or Toronto FC (who they play on Saturday) will be ‘easy’ opponents for Vancouver.

The Fire are currently dead last in MLS, and have not won a road match yet this season. Worse yet for Chicago is that in seven matches they’ve only managed to score seven goals, while at the other end of the pitch they’ve conceded eight.

Fortunately for the Whitecaps, the Fire’s David Accam (knee strain) will not travel to Vancouver for tonight’s match. Accam, who is second in team scoring with two goals, will rejoin the Fire when they play the New England Revolution on Saturday.

“Vancouver is a great team. In the last game they performed very well against Portland,” Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic told reporters during a conference call.

“They’re in a very good form, which means for us it will be even more difficult. I believe completely in our possibilities,” Paunovic added.

So, once again the Whitecaps are faced with the prospect of a very winnable game tonight. While the season is still young, these are exactly the types of games and points that can make a difference later in the season when playoff berths are on the line.

Will the ‘Caps take care of business and beat the Fire? They should, but recent history has shown us that matches against teams like Chicago are not necessarily an easy three points for the Whitecaps.

Predicted starting XI (4-2-3-1): Ousted ©; Smith, Waston, Parker, Adekugbe; Jacobson, Laba, Techera, Mezquida, Manneh; Kudo

Predicted score: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – 1 Chicago Fire

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Mark Dailey I have an unhealthy obsession with the soccer, Formula 1 and good coffee. I also co-host "From the Backline", which is a podcast (mostly) dedicated to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, MLS and all things soccer.
@markjrdailey

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