An impressive home stand has the Vancouver well placed to make a push for the playoffs in the second half of the Major League Soccer (MLS) season. Al Dannity looks at the prospects for the second year franchise and previews Wednesday night’s match-up with the New York Red Bulls.
The standings make for stunning reading. A marginal improvement from their limp rookie season would have been enough for fans in Vancouver. Instead their sophomore effort sees them sitting pretty at third in the Western Conference, with a 9 point cushion for a playoff spot after 14 games. It wasn’t supposed to run so smoothly but Martin Rennie’s disciplined outfit has combined impressive performances with opportunistic displays to make swift progress in 2012.
That opportunistic streak has been on full display during the Caps recent home stand. The Dynamo came to BC Place without half their starting defence and were treated to a master class by Darren Mattocks. The star striker was sent off against the Colorado Rapids in Vancouver’s last outing but they too arrived riddled with injuries and Sebastien Le Toux found the net to give the Whitecaps the win.
While fortune has favored Vancouver, they didn’t have the mentality to record such wins last year. In 2012 however, with a more battle-tested roster, the Caps are ready to push for the post-season. There are still 20 games to go so it’s important to make the most of a good run to pad Vancouver’s advantage.
Red Bulls roll in to town
The Whitecaps complete this home stand with a clash against New York. Once again their opponents are missing key players. Thierry Henry and Rafa Marques will both be missing for the Red Bulls, making the defensive task for Vancouver an awful lot easier. The challenge here will be in finding goals against a resolute New York line-up.
While the Red Bulls have leaked 21 goals in their 14 games, they have put in a few impressive displays at the back. That should worry a Vancouver team with just 17 goals to their credit this season. Narrow wins like those against the Dynamo and Rapids show a team can play with grit and pride. What fans in Vancouver want to see is a team that can attack an opponent, particularly one missing key players. It was a lack of attacking spark that cost the Caps their shot at the Voyageurs Cup. They will need to find goals from somewhere to maintain their lofty standing in MLS.
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