Tag Archive for Vancouver Whitecaps

Real Salt Lake hoping to find answers against Vancouver (Match Preview)

We are just a month into the long MLS season and most fans and media thought RSL would be a top contender early on this season based on their decent run at the end of 2017. Instead what we have gotten are more questions than answers, at no point in their first four matches of the season has RSL looked like a dominant team. I can take matches in which we are outplayed if the effort is there but RSL have delivered maybe 45 minutes of combined quality soccer over their first four matches. There has been a lack of energy, cohesion, chemistry and at long stretches of match it has appeared the effort level has also been lacking.  The reality for me is that beyond the work of Nick Rimando, an out of position Brooks Lennon and rookie Corey Baird, there has been little to get excited about.  Can RSL change that against Vancouver on Saturday?

For the Whitecaps the start of the season has been solid with a 3-1-1 record, they did get shell shocked at Atlanta a few weeks ago as they found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline.  Still they have already picked up two big road wins at Columbus last week and at Houston in week two of the season. Vancouver won more road matches than any other team in the Western Conference last year with six, only TFC the eventual MLS Cup Champs won more last year (seven).  Perhaps no Whitecap player looks forward to the matches against RSL more than Cristian Techera, while in him MLS career he has just 15 goals, a third of those have come in his 6 matches against the Claret and Cobalt. Given the holes in the RSL defense so far this season, I expect he will be looking to add to that total on Saturday.

Rio Tinto has not been a kind place for the Whitecaps, in their nine trips here they have managed just a single win, three draws and found themselves leaving as losers five times.  They have scored just five goals, while giving up 13 in matches here, they gave up three last year in a snowy match that saw RSL pick up their first win of the 2017 season in a match that RSL dominated in almost every stat imaginable.  It was the first match of the Petke era at RSL and the first goal for RSL scored by Albert Rusnak, and the debut of Danilo Acosta, a match in which RSL captured a bit of what they would find near the end of the season. On Saturday it is unlikely we will see the orange ball again, but one has to expect that Mike Petke will be looking recapture some of those good feelings from a year ago.

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The 2016 MLS season is here, what to expect

Today is the day, the 21st season of MLS action gets under way, in many ways 2016 is the calm after one storm and before an even bigger one, 2015 saw two new team jump into the fray of MLS (NYCFC and Orlando City SC) both came with some big names, Kaka, Frank Lampard (well eventually), David Villa, Mix Diskerud (is he still a big name?) and both struggled on the pitch to compete as neither made the playoffs in a rather weak Eastern Conference. It was also the start of the new TV deal for MLS, a new CBA, and lots and lots of new sponsorships for the league.  So with no new teams this year and a year where there simply haven’t been any of those huge signings like last year, don’t forget we also saw Steve Gerrard, Jermaine Jones, Giovani dos Santos and Sebastian Giovinco join the league, but maybe those come this summer?

There are new stars but smaller names, like Ashley Cole, Lucas Ontivero, Yura Movsisyan, Carlos Gruezo and Shkelzen Gashi, we also the return of a player I really like is Simon Dawkins now a DP with San Jose and there are a lot of open DP spots around the league.  We saw some big name players change places, Dan Kennedy, Jeff Larentowicz, and Mike Magee to LA Galaxy, Marco Pappa and Jermaine Jones to Colorado, Marcelo Sarvas to DC United, Maximiliano Urruti and Mauro Rosales to FC Dallas, Christian Miadana to Houston, Harry Shipp to Montreal, Brad Davis and Justin Mapp to Sporting KC, Will Johnson and Clint Irwin to Toronto FC and Blaz Perez to Vancouver.

All of this before we see 2 new teams likely join the league in 2017 and then 2 more in 2018, so even without those huge name signings it is a big year for the league as those new sponsors will want to see some ROI and the league needs to find a way to get the TV numbers moving up in a hurry.

So as a fan what should you expect?  Will it be another year with the big clubs missing out on MLS Cup (come on none of you picked Portland vs Columbus last year, don’t lie about it)? Well it is a crap shoot to try to pick who will win what at this point of the season, MLS has too many variables to be very accurate but I do have some thoughts

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Real Salt Lake look for progress vs upstart Vancouver

If you follow MLS closely you saw a few things coming, first you saw that the Vancouver Whitecaps were on the verge of becoming a powerhouse team. They were very young, very talented, very energetic, and playing as if they had nothing to lose, in fact the more I watch them play the more I am reminded of the evolution of RSL in the last part of 09 and the 2010 season. It as then run to MLS Cup when things just clicked for RSL, and it was exciting to watch, and it launched RSL into being one of the best teams in MLS over the last 7 seasons.

The flip side of that is RSL trying to reinvent itself, gone is Jason Kreis, gone is Garth Lagerwey, gone is the diamond midfield, the result has left some fans (including myself from time to time) scratching their heads about the new formation.  Still there is the very solid defense, Rimando in net is still the top keeper in the league, the backline is faster, more athletic, and so far this season they have been just as stingy as they were last year. With 4 goals allowed in our first 5 matches this season, we are at the exact same place as last year, 3 clean sheets in the first 5 last year and yes 3 in the first 5 this year. Last year a flukish 3-3 draw with San Jose accounted for a majority of our goals allowed, this year a flukish 3-3 draw with Philadelphia has accounted for a majority of the goals allowed.

On the offensive side of the ball things have been a bit different for RSL, those first 5 matches last year saw RSL score 8 goals, we are down 2 with just 6 this season.  Interestingly enough 5 matches in last year Joao Plata had 2 goals, and of course he has been out injured to start the season, also a bit telling last year Alvaro Saborio had 3 goals in RSL’s first 5 matches and he has just 1 this season.  Still the change in formation, the injury to Joao, both are reasonable explanations on why the offensive side of things might be lacking just a bit. Still it isn’t the results that have left people (including myself) scratching our heads it has been the departure from what was considered by many the most attractive style of soccer in MLS, our dominating possession, overwhelming passing numbers and precision to what is to the eye a much more frantic style of the 4-3-3.

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Who is going to win the Supporters’ Shield? What the numbers say

So one thing is clear in all sports including MLS, there is no place like home.  In MLS the home team wins most of the matches, no team in the league this year has won more matches on the road than they have at home.  In fact only Toronto FC with 2 road wins and 2 home wins are even close, the top teams in both the East and West all get a result in a majority of their home matches.

 

  • Real Salt Lake – 8-2-3 at home, 5-6-3 on the road
  • Montreal – 9-1-3 at home, 3-6-2 on the road
  • Los Angeles – 8-1-2 at home, 4-8-2 on the road

and on and on, so while one could spend a lot of time trying to analysis in depth the remaining schedules of MLS teams, looking at who they play but to be brutally honest I think that simply looking at how teams have performed at home and on the road so far this year provides a great deal of insight on how they likely will perform for the remainder of the year.  Now it isn’t bullet proof, we have seen teams get hot down the stretch or go cold but averages are fairly good indicators.  So let’s take a look at the how things look like:

Real Salt Lake has average 2.08 points per match at home, and 1.28 points per match on the road thru their 27 matches played earning 45 points.  RSL has 4 remaining home matches so if trends stay the same they would earn 8 more points at home, they have 3 more matches on the road and should get 4 points on the road.  So with 45 points earned and a projected 12 points, RSL will likely end the season with 57 points.

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Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Match Preview

Well RSL will be celebrating Star Wars day (May the 4th (fourth) be with you) on Saturday as they take on the evil Whitecaps from Canada.  I say evil for their tactics of diving like they are going for gold in the 3m platform, now before you go claiming I am going all homer on you, check out this quote from Whitecaps blog eightysixforever.com, when talking about the recent match between RSL and Vancouver:

The Whitecaps did dive. A lot.

Far more than a team with their caliber of players should. Plus, it wasn’t youngsters doing it to try and draw penalties, no it was veteran guys, players like YP Lee.

While slight embellishment is part of the game, Lee took it to daring new heights, diving like Greg Louganis to try and draw a penalty kick. He wasn’t even touched, and Lee acted like his legs had been taken out under him, before hitting the ground and staring at the referee, wondering where the call was.

To me the irony of the Whitecaps fans complaining about FC Dallas diving (complete with score cards in the stands) is that they seem to have few issues when their guys do it.  I remember how made RSL fans got at Alvaro Saborio a couple years ago for a dive that caught the attention of the MLS Disciplinary Committee.  Now to say that some players on the RSL roster don’t go down too easily would be lying, but I think overall the mentality has changed in recent years as RSL fans don’t want their players diving and flopping, I think it is a lot less than in the past or at least it sure seems that way.  So on Saturday with a ref who has shown 2 red cards in the 3 matches he has officiated so far this season, I expect that we will likely once again get to watch guys like YP Lee act as if there are snipers in the rafters of Rio Tinto Stadium.

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Real Salt Lake have to settle for another 0-0 draw

For the 3rd straight match (2 MLS & 1 CCL) Real Salt Lake have had to settle for a 0-0 draw, and while head coach Jason Kreis addressed the fans after the match to say the team has been saving up goals for the playoffs, I am not sure everyone is buying it.

Like the last two matches RSL has played the team dominated every aspect of the match, except for the scoreboard.  Saturday night it was 62.7% possession to 37.3%, it was 514 passes to 291, it was a 85% passing accuracy to 74%, it was 17 shots to 5, but only 3 shots on goal and none of them found the back of the net.

Heading into the playoffs there is no doubt that the RSL defense is up to the task, with just one goal allowed in the last 5 matches, and just 3 allowed in their last 10 matches.  A stretch where RSL is 5-1-4, but if you take out the 4 goal performance against Chivas USA a month ago, RSL has scored just 6 goals in those last 10 matches.  One of those is a good thing heading into the playoffs but the other not so much.

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