Who plays in goal? Is a win necessary? Can the Caps make the playoffs? These questions and more will be answered Saturday when the Vancouver Whitecaps take on FC Dallas in a make-or-break Major League Soccer (MLS) match-up. Al Dannity gives his take.
Just don’t lose
The Whitecaps lead Dallas by 5 points going into Saturday’s game. A win for Dallas and that drops to 2. With only one of these teams going to the post-season, every result matters at this time of year. Vancouver can steal momentum for the stretch with a big display against the Texans. The Whitecaps have a game in hand and play four of their five games after Saturday in B.C. Place. Defeat would still see Vancouver in the driver’s seat but it would also leave them teetering on the edge. A loss to a rival for the last spot is the perfect set-up for a year-end collapse.
The Whitecaps racked up the air miles last week without kicking a ball in MLS action. Kenny Miller is completing a 10,000 kilometre round-trip from his international duty with Scotland. Jamaican duo Dane Richards and Darren Mattocks will be equally fatigued after travelling for a pair of games against the USA. With two key attackers in Mattocks and Miller tired, it will be difficult for Martin Rennie to get the production he needs from the duo.
The centre-back question
Then there’s the matter of which duo to use at the back. Defensively the Whitecaps have some depth but Rennie will need to find the partnership best suited to handle Dallas. In terms of experience Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien would be likely to get the nod but there’s the small matter of Martin Bonjour. Finding the right blend will be crucial ahead of Saturday’s game.
The goalkeeping conundrum
A team deciding between two starting goalkeepers rarely has one worth starting. That’s not quite the case for Rennie here but he certainly has a tough choice to make. Brad Knighton has played well, coming in as a back-up, but Joe Cannon is the number 1 for the Caps. Rennie doesn’t just need a shot-stopper, he needs a goalkeeper who can marshal this defence ahead of one of the biggest games of the season. It’s going to be a tense match-up, it most likely will be tight, but it may not be season defining. Victory for Vancouver would send them almost certainly into the post-season and that’s a prize even Rennie would not have expected before the season began.
Follow Sports Interaction on Twitter.