The Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps meet for the second time this Saturday night in Commerce City as the Rapids are looking to stop the rot while the Caps will look to extend their winning streak to four matches in a row.
I chatted with Jon over at Eighty Six Forever, our partner blog for the Caps. Here is what we spoke about:
Burgundy Wave: The Caps are leading the Western Conference and have won three in a row, four of five of eight. What is the reason for this?
Eighty-Six Forever: David Ousted, mostly. That, and some timely goal scoring. The Whitecaps are riding a three match win streak, as you mentioned, but they haven't looked great while doing it. The club put forth a dominating defensive effort with a 1-0 win over the Galaxy on June 6th, but followed that up with poorer efforts against The New York Red Bulls, and the New England Revolution. Against the Red Bulls, the 'Caps surely would have gone home empty handed if not for the heroics of David Ousted, who blanked Bradley Wright-Phillips on two penalty kick opportunities. Against the Revs', Ousted was again Superhuman with an 8 save performance.
Now, the club is scoring goals and is getting offensive contributions from a few different players, but that's just part of their recipe for success. David Ousted is the heartbeat, pulse and catalyst of this club, and the main reason they have 32 points.
Burgundy Wave: David Ousted is have a good year in MLS and appears to be one of the big reason for the success of the Whitecaps in 2015. How special is he and how does he rank among the elite MLS keepers?
Eighty Six Forever: It's funny, because Ousted was not met with much fanfare at all when he arrived in Vancouver. In fact, I was very much against the acquisition, because the 'Caps had to deal out fan favorite Alain Rochat to make room for Ousted's salary. He certainly has shut his critics up this season, rising into the upper echelon of MLS Goalkeepers. Is he the best keeper in MLS right now? I'd say yes, because the success of the Whitecaps is intrinsically tied to the Great Dane, perhaps more so than any other keeper is for their club.
The Whitecaps offensive big boys- Pedro Morales, Mauro Rosales and Octavio Rivero- have run hot and cold this season, but Ousted has been a consistent strength in net. The Whitecaps would still be contending for a playoff berth without Ousted, but they damn sure wouldn't be jockeying for top spot in the Western Conference.
Burgundy Wave: Vancouver is going to busy the second half of the season with a realistic shot at winning MLS Cup, Supporters Shield and CCL participation. What will the Caps focus on and how does Carl Robinson manage that?
Eighty Six Forever: The Whitecaps should be focusing on all three conquests, although I think CCL participation and the MLS Cup would top their list. A Supporter's Shield is a nice honor to get, but I don't think anyone will call the season a failure if they can't nail it down. Robinson is lucky in that he has plenty of young depth to throw into his lineup should his veteran players start to get tired, so the 'Caps shouldn't be able to use the 'tired' excuse.
Predicted Starting 11: Ousted, Beitashour, Waston, Kah, Harvey, Laba, Koffie, Techera, Morales, Rosales, Rivero
Predicted Score: Whitecaps win again, 1-0
You can see my answers over at Eighty Six Forever