Orlando City needs to win a soccer game.
That’s it. That’s the entire opening paragraph, and it’s all that really matters at this point.
The Lions could maximize their chances of winning a game if they can figure out a way to score more than one goal — something they haven’t done since June 17 in a 3-3 draw against Montreal. That seems to be harder to do than it should be for this group, but hey, hope springs eternal and maybe this will be the game Orlando finally explodes on offense.
Vancouver has allowed 34 goals this season. That’s 1.42 per game the Whitecaps are conceding. Let’s hope the Lions hit the over on that number and parlay that into their first ever win against the Whitecaps.
Here to give us the inside scoop on the Caps is Andrew Bahl from SB Nation’s Vancouver blog, EightySixForever.com. I also answered Andrew’s questions and you can catch my answers over at their place.
Orlando City and Vancouver don’t see each other too often. What’s new about the 2017 edition of the Whitecaps from when we saw them last year?
Andrew Bahl: Two big, positive changes from the last time we met at BC Place. Firstly, the defense that seemed shaky last season (and shipped a couple goals to Orlando if memory serves), conceding some of the most goals in MLS, has settled down considerably. Tim Parker and Kendall Waston have developed into one of the more dependable center back pairings in the league. And, while they occasionally can get picked apart, I am much more comfortable with the Caps’ back line when compared with a year ago.
Secondly, the attacking situation seems a lot clearer. Last year, the Caps seemingly lacked an identity up front and after the season-ending injury to Masato Kudo, they were remarkably thin at striker. While goals are still an issue for the Caps, they have a target man in Fredy Montero who has scored five goals in as many matches and is a much stabler presence up top. He’s no Cyle Larin, and Vancouver still has trouble creating chances, but it’s a lot better than playing roulette with Erik Hurtado or Octavio Rivero at striker (like we did last year).
Our old friend Brek Shea seems to be fitting in with the Caps. How has Carl Robinson been using the tall American and how have the fans taken to Shea in Vancouver?
AB: Brek Shea has definitely made his mark in Vancouver, although not as much as former Cap Giles Barnes has in Orlando. Brek has mainly been a rotation option, although he has seen plenty of minutes spelling Fredy Montero up top and scored the winning goal in Colorado earlier this season. The problem, as Orlando fans are surely aware, is that Brek doesn’t have a clear-cut position.
He initially started most of his matches up top but I think Robbo has realized that he is better deployed as a winger, so as to better use his pace. While I don’t think his long-term future is probably in Vancouver, it is hard not to root for him and I have been impressed with his work ethic and dedication to the club, given the fact that I suspect he probably would have rather not been traded to Vancouver.
After the midweek game against Seattle, how do you expect Robinson to rotate his squad with the cross-continental trip to Orlando?
AB: Based off the strong side Robbo trotted out on Wednesday and the fact that he is seemingly banking on a run of home fixtures to pick up points, it stands to reason that the starting XI will look fairly different on Saturday. Your old bud Brek Shea and Russell Teibert seem likely to get the nod and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Marcel de Jong and Jake Nerwinski mix things up at fullback. Bernie Ibini may also get a start. Two complicating factors are the suspension of Tony Tchani, who was sent off against Seattle, and Matias Laba’s injury. This means that Andrew Jacobson will probably have to make the long flight to central Florida and Ally Ghazal may get a chance to make his Vancouver debut, if fit.
Any injuries or suspensions? Your predictions for starting XI and final score?
AB: Injury: Matias Laba (ACL). Suspension: Tony Tchani.
Starting 11: Stefan Marinovic; Jordan Harvey, Tim Parker, Kendall Waston, Jake Nerwinski; Andrew Jacobson, Russell Teibert; Brek Shea, Nicolas Mezquida, Bernie Ibini; Fredy Montero.
Prediction: 2-2 draw.
Big thanks to Andrew from EightySix Forever for the insight on tomorrow night’s opponents from Canada.