Burgundy Wave: Vancouver has also had a rough start to the season—what do you see as the big problem(s)?
Eighty Six Forever: Lack of chemistry is the first thing that comes to mind, which is ironic in that the current roster was a wholesale reassembly to mitigate the lack of chemistry suffered by the 2018 squad over the course of the season. The key difference for this year, however, is that it’s more due to the players’ lack of familiarity with one another as opposed to an outright dislike or indifference.
Nevertheless, the season is one-quarter complete and the players should be acquainted well enough at this point, so instead the problem becomes the other carryover concern: goal scoring. Seven GF from nine games won’t win you anything (though it is shockingly better than where Atlanta United currently sit), so when Coach Marc dos Santos says they’re trying to do something for the next transfer window, it probably (and hopefully) means the Whitecaps are looking for a striker.
BW: The Whitecaps’ only win so far came against one of the best (if not the best) club in MLS, LAFC. What was their key to success there?
86F: The biggest thing for me was that, rather than include the regular No. 9s Fredy Montero or Joaquin Ardaiz, dos Santos elected to start Yordy Reyna, who often will be on the wing or act as a support striker. Reyna up front resulted in a very aggressive press of the LAFC backline by the Vancouver front six. That press gave LAFC little time to act with the ball, resulting in a number of first-half recoveries all over the pitch.
What really aided this press, however, was some strong defensive intuition. Say Russell Teibert was too aggressive in pressing Carlos Vela, PC, who’s spent time this season as a left back for the ‘Caps, could easily rotate backward to fill the gap left by Teibert. Same if either of the wing backs advanced up field; a player was ready to aptly move into the vacated space to help solidify the backline whenever it was needed.
Plus, it’s always helpful to not have to travel for a midweek match.
BW: Do you think the coaching change here in Colorado is a positive or a negative for Vancouver?
86F: I honestly think it’s a negative. Anthony Hudson’s comments after last week’s loss, calling his roster, “a bottom group of players,” is the kind of bulletin board material that the other team usually provides. I don’t doubt for a second that that locker room is fuming over such characterization from a guy who was ready to blame everyone in the room but himself. And I’ve seen enough Conor Casey goals against the ‘Caps to realize he knows how to grab a result from Vancouver. It’s really just a matter of whether or not he can inspire the squad he inherited to do the same.