Whitecaps vs Union Matchup Insight
The Whitecaps make their second road excursion this weekend with an afternoon clash in Philadelphia against the Union. Philly is a team in disarray as they have begun the year with three straight losses, considered a surprise in light of their playoff appearance last season.
The Union are a very young but talented team, and had three players absent last week with the USA squad, including past phenom Freddy Adu, as they attempted to qualify for the soccer portion of the 2012 Olympics in London.
Expect the Union to make a big push in this game.
The preferred formation for Philly is a 3-5-2 arrangement, which demands discipline and smart movement of the ball from the back three defenders. Unfortunately, the Union have been very scattered in their commitment, making several mistakes and giving up six goals already.
There will also be concerns with the absence of Adu, due to tiredness from the Olympic qualifiers, although his international teammates Williams and Amobi have indicated they will be ready.
Gabriel Gomez is a standout in midfield for the Union, and is always a danger from free kicks.
The Whitecaps have a number of changes this weekend. Striker Eric Hassli and left back Alain Rochat will both not make the trip east due to ankle and knee sprain injuries respectively. Darren Mattocks also remains unavailable for selection indefinitely due to his burns.
His speed was missed as a second half substitute last week against DC United.
Jordan Harvey will likely fill in for Rochat, while Atiba Harris is back and a possibility to take Hassli’s spot. The replacements may force a reworking of Coach Martin Rennie’s line-up.
He may well find it advantageous to switch from his preferred 4-2-3-1 to a traditional 4-4-2 for more stability and defensive support.
This game should have a charged atmosphere with a somewhat desperate Philadelphia squad eager to get over the hump.
It will also be a homecoming for Harvey and in particular French star striker Sebastien Le Toux, who previously excelled in the city of Brotherly Love.
It was a big surprise for him to be moved west to Van City.
He will be keen to prove his trade was a mistake.
With the forced changes Vancouver will be a bit unsettled and also facing a strong challenge from the frustrated Union. It should be a real see-saw battle, but the ‘Caps defenders and goalie Joe Cannon have been outstanding this year.
Look for Vancouver to maintain their unbeaten run in a 1-1 draw with a goal for an inspired Le Toux.