Whitecaps vs Fire Insight
The ‘Caps wind down their long road trip Saturday with a turn in Chicago against the Fire who sit fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, mirroring the Whitecaps position in the west.
Chicago has been shut out in its last two matches and will be eager to re-open their goals account at home.
Vancouver on the other hand will want at least a tie to maintain their playoff position, and to gain some positive relief from their late collapse to Toronto FC mid-week when a Terry Dunfield header broke Vancouver hearts.
Chicago has middle of the park numbers for support in terms of total attendance, but boasts some of the more rabid supporters groups in Section 8 and Sector Latino. It will be a boisterous atmosphere Saturday night and the Fire will want to take advantage.
The team’s main strength is in midfield with both leading scorers Dominic Oduro and Marco Pappa plying their trade in the middle of the park, though Oduro does move forward at times. Argentinian Sebastian Grazzini provides the passing service to the front of the field to set up chances.
Chicago’s recent goal drought is enough of a concern that there may be a reshuffle of places here.
Vancouver will be grateful to see this trip come to an end, but don’t expect a tame effort here from a tired squad.
There is much for the ‘Caps to prove with the loss of Davide Chiumiento and now Sebastien Le Toux (see our assessment of the trade), as well as the acquisition of ex-Red Bull Dane Richards.
Established Vancouver players such as Camilo and Eric Hassli, who have seen restricted roles this year with indifferent play, now have a renewed opportunity to impress and try to nail down their spots before the home stretch.
Coach Martin Rennie has considerable clout in player movement and his fingers are all over this week’s in-season makeover.
The coaching staff will be intent on preparing the players well for Saturday to endorse the changes. Dane Richards is expected to see action here and Vancouver will come out energized.
Look for Vancouver to take a close 2-1 decision.