Vancouver Whitecaps vs Minnesota United – Wednesday, September 13, 7:00 Pacific/10:00 Eastern, BC Place – Vancouver.
The playoff push is on for the Vancouver Whitecaps. A 3-2 victory over Real Salt Lake has catapulted the Whitecaps to third place in the standings with 41 points out of 26 games. The Caps are now just two points behind second placed Seattle Sounders, who have played two more games, and first placed Portland Timbers, who have played three more games than the Whitecaps, in the Western Conference.
The complicated schedule of Major League Soccer means that one needs a bit of a calculator to break down Vancouver’s current position. But when considering average points rather than total points, the Whitecaps are first in the Western Conference with a point average of 1.58, which puts them ahead of the Sounders (1.54 points on average) and Portland (1.52 points).
It is a remarkable development at this point of the season. The Whitecaps did not have the best start to this season but have consistently collected points in the highly competitive West and are getting hot just in the right time to perhaps finish in the top two of the Conference, which would see them start the playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals.
Looking at the schedule, the Whitecaps may just pull it off. Following the 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake Vancouver remain at home for three more home games against Minnesota, Columbus Crew and Colorado Rapids. Of those three only Columbus from the Eastern Conference still, have realistic playoff hopes.
Expansion franchise Minnesota will be the first to visit BC Place. A midweek game after a successful performance against the Royals on Saturday might be the best to keep Vancouver’s momentum going. The Whitecaps could, in fact, leapfrog Seattle as well as Portland and claim first spot in the West.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Minnesota United – Players to look out for:
Fredy Montero #13 – Vancouver Whitecaps
Before the season kicked off, there was a question in Vancouver on whether the Whitecaps were a strikers graveyard. The term was somewhat stolen from the city’s other sports franchise the Vancouver Canucks. For years the Canucks have gone through goalkeepers without having found a suitable player between the sticks labelling the city a goalkeepers graveyard. With several forwards failing at the Whitecaps the term has now been expanded to include forwards playing soccer as well. But Vancouver may have finally found their man in Fredy Montero. The Colombian has scored eleven goals in 26 games this season giving the Whitecaps consistency up front.
Ibson #7 – Minnesota United
The 33-year-old Brazilian midfielder Ibson is the heart and soul of Minnesota’s midfield. Signed by Minnesota from FC Bologna in 2015, when the club was still playing in the North American Soccer League, Ibson was one of the many players that made the transition from the second tier NASL to MLS. Ibson brings plenty of experience to a team that at first struggled to come to terms with the reality of Major League Soccer. Having played for the likes of FC Porto, Spartak Moscow, and Bologna in Europe as well as Brazilian giants Santos, Flamengo and Corinthians Ibson is looking back at a stellar career. At 33 he is no longer the dynamic attacking midfielder of the old days, but his experience is his weight worth in gold for the Loons.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake – Match Stats
- Vancouver Whitecap’s top scorer Fredy Montero has scored eleven goals in 26 games.
- Minnesota’s top scorer Christian Ramirez has scored 11 goals in 22 games.
- MLS newcomers Minnesota drew Vancouver 2-2 on matchday 17.
- Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath has a losing record of W0 D3 L4 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Minnesota United 2-0
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake – Possible Lineups
Marinovic – de Jong, Maund, Waston, Nerwinski – Teibert, Mezquida, Tchani – Reyna, Montero, Ibini-Isei
Coach: Carl Robinson
Shuttleworth – Calvo, Boxall, Kallman, Thiesson – Warner, Molino, Ibson – Nicholson, Danladi, Finlay
Coach: Adrian Heath
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