With the Portland Timbers in British Columbia for today's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, we linked up with Bartosz Wysocki of our Canadian-Cascadian sister site, 86 Forever, for a quick peak at the opposition.
Outside of Pedro Morales, the Whitecaps have yet to identify a goal scorer that the team can depend on in the lean times. Who could step up against the Timbers or are the Whitecaps fine scoring by committee?
Matias Laba has long battle Diego Chara for the title of most under-appreciated player in MLS. Despite being torched by Darlington Nagbe on several notable occasions, how important is Laba's play in the center of the pitch to this Whitecaps side?
The better Laba is, the better the Whitecaps are, simple as that. Unfortunately, he isn't having his best season as a Whitecap, and that's showed with the results that we have been getting. He plays as a defensice midfelder, which is a vital position to the Whitecaps style of play. Our league leading defense last year was largely due to Laba putting in the hours disrupting attacks, and being in the right position to stop whatever other teams would throw at us. On the flip side, going forward we needed someone who could create breaks by playing with Morales in the midfield, and he was more than adept at that.
This year has not been that successful though for Laba. A big part of his game is his physicality; however, this has led to him getting a lot of cards, and two suspensions at this point of the season. For him to thrive, he's going to have to cut down on that.
Despite scoring twelve goals, the Whitecaps have only notched six assists as a team, by far the biggest goals to assists ratio in the league. What does this say about how the Whitecaps are generating and finishing chances, and is that a good or a bad thing for the side?
This is a terrible thing for the Whitecaps this season. When a player who has all his goals from the penalty mark is the leading goal scorer for your team, you know that something has gone wrong. While getting penalties is not necessarily a bad thing, relying on them is never a recipe for success (especially when some of the calls that led to them have been potentially questionable at times).
Even when we don't score from the penalty spot, the goals come from set pieces, or spectacular howlers from the other teams goalkeepers a la Josh Saunders last week. This needs to be remedied quickly, as our forwards are increasingly showing that they aren't capable of finishing, whether it be speedsters like Manneh or centre's like Riveiro and Perez.
Don't let this doom and gloom give you guys a false sense of security though. It's derby day, and we've shown in the past that we can show up against our Pacific Northwest foes.
Bonus Trolling Question: The Timbers have had some success winning on the road against Vancouver since 2011 -- so much so that the Timbers Army have lovingly been referring to B.C. Place as "our house in the middle of B.C." for six years now. How annoying is that for Whitecaps fans to hear?
That song makes us incredibly annoyed. We Canadians are a passionate and emotional people, so when you taunt us on our soil it really strikes to our core. We usually cope by reminding ourselves of the five Cascadia Cups we've won.
Our schedules were a little off, so expect my answers to Bartosz's questions to show up soon over at 86 Forever.