Brotherly Game) Vancouver finished 2nd in the West last season, but they've been a bit streaky so far this year. Does this team still have championship potential? If not, what's changed?
Eighty Six Forever) The Vancouver Whitecaps still have championship potential, but at this point there is a much larger emphasis on "potential" than on "championship". We have shown strong performances against quality teams this season, but the consistency is nowhere near what we saw last time out. There have been problems all over the park, from the attackers and midfielders unable to find their scoring touch, to the defense and goalkeeper (more on that later). However, even with so much going wrong for the Caps, the parity in the league means that we're still somehow in a playoff position, and have more than a fair chance of competing for silverware. If the strikers can gain some form (and the key word is "if"), then we can compete with anyone.
BG) What's up with Vancouver's striker situation? It looks like Erik Hurtado has been stealing minutes from Octavio Rivero as of late. Which one do you reckon we'll see tomorrow and how do their games differ?
ESF) The striker situation is completely up in the air this weekend, and has been for quite some time. At the beginning of the season it would have been assumed that Rivero would be the starter in most games, but his poor form has gotten rid of that assumption. Rivero played in the first leg of the Canadian championship earlier this week, so there is a fair chance that Coach Robinson will be looking to rest him. As well, ever since his loan stint in Norway Hurtado has drastically improved his game, and is not as one dimensional as he was in years past for the Caps. If I had to bet on it, I would assume that Hurtado starts with Rivero coming on to finish off the game.
BG) The 'Caps have one of the highest goals allowed totals in the league. What's wrong with that back line?
ESF) The Caps back line has undergone a complete 180 degree turn from last season, and not in a good way. From having the lowest goals let in total in 2015, to one of the highest this season, it's been a total mess for the entire back line, as well as the goalkeeper Ousted. The departure of Steven Beitashour has hurt us a lot, and the replacement, whether it be Jordan Smith or Fraser Aird, has not been able to play at Steven's level. In the middle, poor discipline has tremendously hurt the entire team. Waston has missed multiple games because of suspensions, and he will not be featuring in Saturday's match up as well. He was the cornerstone of our defensive line last year, so whenever he is not on the field, the Caps are vulnerable in the back. As well, Ousted is not playing at the spectacular level he had in 2015. Last year he was able to steal many a game for us, and even though he is still playing great this year, there were a few games earlier in the season where his mistakes cost us points.
Check out our return exchange with Eighty Six Forever here.