Vancouver Whitecaps vs Columbus Crew – Saturday September 16, 4:00 Pacific/7:00 Eastern, BC Place – Vancouver.
The Vancouver Whitecaps continue their push towards the playoffs against Columbus Crew on Saturday. Undefeated in five games Vancouver have collected important wins against Salt Lake and Minnesota last week and are now first in the Western Conference.
It is a remarkable achievement given that the Whitecaps had a slow start to the season and that Vancouver have played two games less than the second-placed Portland Timbers and one game less than the third-placed Seattle Sounders. Vancouver are now catching up with the rest of the Conference regarding games played, which meant an extended stay at home in September. The Caps have already played Real Salt Lake and Minnesota in the first of four consecutive home games in September.
On Saturday they will face Columbus and then Colorado next week before heading on the road for three games against Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City and New York Red Bulls. Those five games will very much determine where Vancouver will finish in the Western Conference, which is still far too tight to call. Two home victories and a positive result against Seattle on September 27 should, however, give a clear indication whether the Whitecaps will finish in the top two and avoid an extra round in the playoffs or whether the Whitecaps will head to the Western Conference Semi-Final or have to play an extra knockout round match.
Columbus Crew in the meantime are in the middle of their very own playoff push in the Eastern Conference. Currently, fourth ahead of expansion franchise Atlanta United Columbus need to win this game to not drop down the standings—especially, because they have played 29 games already three more than fifth-placed Atlanta and sixth-placed New York Red Bulls. Looking up the table, Columbus are seven points behind New York City FC and have also played one game more and with just five games remaining are unlikely to push for one of the two top spots in the league.
Unlike Vancouver, Columbus did not have a midweek game and are travelling straight from the American Midwest to the Canadian West Coast. Hence, despite the fact that Vancouver had a midweek game Columbus’ gruelling trip to Vancouver should even the balance and put the surging Whitecaps in the driver’s seat.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Columbus Crew – Players to look out for:
Yordy Reyna #29 – Vancouver Whitecaps
Yordy Reyna has been in fantastic form for the Vancouver Whitecaps in recent weeks. The Peruvian attacking midfielder has scored four goals and one assist in 12 Major League Soccer games this far. Missing the beginning of the season with an injury Reyna has been a big reason for the Whitecaps’ push to the top of the Western Conference table by scoring three goals and one assist in the last five games. Signed from Red Bull Salzburg ahead of this season Reyna is a magician on the ball, and there are indications that the 23-year-old could become one of the most talented players in this league.
Ola Kamara #11 – Columbus Crew
The Norwegian striker Ola Kamara has been Columbus Crew’s most prolific striker this season. Kamara has scored 15 goals and five assists in 29 Major League Soccer games this season. Signed from Austria Wien in February 2016 Kamara has now scored 31 goals and seven assists in 54 MLS games and established himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in Major League Soccer.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Columbus Crew – Match Stats
- This is the eighth game between Vancouver and Columbus, and the Whitecaps’ overall record is W4 D1 L2.
- Vancouver has an even home record against Columbus: W1 D1 L1
- In three games against Columbus Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson has never lost a game against Columbus W2 D1 L0.
- Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter has never won a game against Vancouver (W0 D1 L2).
Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Columbus Crew 3-1
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake – Possible Lineups
Ousted – de Jong, Parker, Waston, Nerwinski – Tchani, Reyna, Ghazal – Techera, Montero, Bolaños
Coach: Carl Robinson
Steffen – Raitala, Mensah, Williams, Jiménez – Trapp, Higuaín, Abu – Meram, Kamara, Santos
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.