A very tough slate of games in March is finally over, but the Colorado Rapids are up against one of the best-looking teams in the league next up... at least, they've been one of the best when they've been at home. The Vancouver Whitecaps are hosting Saturday's match at BC Place, so it's guaranteed to be a toughie for the visiting Rapids. What's the overall outlook of their team, though? I asked Jon from Eighty Six Forever, SB Nation's Whitecaps blog, a few questions about the Caps ahead of the game. Here's what he told me:
BW: Vancouver has had two wins and two draws of varying quality so far. With the spectrum of games we've seen the Caps play so far, where do you think the team is going to end up? What's their ceiling and their floor?
86F: So far this season, the 'Caps have looked unstoppable at home, and underwhelming on the road. I really wish I could pinpoint exactly what's wrong with this club away from BC Place, but in general they look more hesitant, slower on the road. Their stars seem to have less time and space, and the offense just evaporates.
However, key pieces of this club are still getting adjusted, including Pedro Morales. He put on a show against the Dynamo last week with his passing, and will hopefully be able to bring that game every week. If the 'Caps can learn to play soccer outside of the province of British Columbia, they could be one of the best in the league, I truly believe.
BW: We know about all those big name guys who start with the letter M like Miller, Mattocks, Manneh, Moreles. Who's a lesser known Whitecap we should watch for on Saturday?
86F: Matias Laba came over with fanfare to the Whitecaps, so I'm not sure if he qualifies as 'underrated'. However, his performance in the holding midfield spot last week was unbelievable. While the entire team played good team defence, it was Laba leading the way. Smart, crisp, quick passes, almost never caught out of position; It's almost unthinkable that the kid is only 22 years old.
BW: What philosophical and team changes have come with the change from Renne to Robinson on the touchline?
86F: First off, it's only been four matches, so I'm not going to say which coach is has been better for the club quite yet. Remember, Martin Rennie was the toast of the town his first year, but that imploded quite quickly.
That being said, Robinson has shown a good eye for talent, (Morales, Laba, and Beitashour are three new players that have looked good) and he's used his lineup to get the best players in their preferred positions. This week, with Nigel Reo-Coker out, Robinson trotted out a 4-4-2 formation, with a midfield diamond. Pedro Morales gets his first start at home, and is put in the CAM role. He winds up putting on a passing clinic all match long, with a few of his beauties going viral.
BW: Lineup/Score Prediction?
86F:The lineup does change, so this is more of an educated guess:
Ousted, Beitashour, O'Brien, Demerit, Harvey, Reo-Coker, Laba, Morales, Teibert, Mattocks, Miller.
Prediction: The 'Caps are very, very good at home. The 'Caps score early, and finish with a 2-0 final score.
Thanks again to Jon at Eighty Six Forever, go over and check out their blog for everything you need on the 'Caps.