PREVIEW – The Vancouver Whitecaps begin their 2023 MLS Campaign on Saturday, February 25th, facing Real Salt Lake at BC Place. With Sergio Córdova’s acquisition for the ‘Caps, all eyes will be on the big Venezuelan striker to see if he will come back to haunt his former club RSL on the grounds of his new one.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake Predictions
Vancouver’s Pre-season Form
The Whitecaps had a relatively decent pre-season form, playing eight friendlies with a record of 3W-3D-2L. Six of those games came in the Coachella Valley Invitational tournament, where the Whitecaps went undefeated, scoring nine goals and keeping three clean sheets. Colombian forward Cristian Dájome comes into this first MLS game in fine form. Having been put back into an attacking role, he scored four goals across the eight matches.
The biggest highlight of the pre-season for the Whitecaps was their 3-0 victory over Canadian rivals Toronto FC. Two of the goals came from Dájome and one came from Javain Brown. Goalkeeper Isaac Boehmer also came up big in that match, saving a penalty from one of Toronto’s Italian talismans, Federico Bernaderschi.
COMPOSURE. Dájo tucks home his second of the match to make it 3-0!
— x – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) February 8, 2023
Real Salt Lake’s Pre-season form
Real Salt Lake had significantly fewer pre-season friendlies than Vancouver did, playing in five. However, in the five they did play, they won three and drew two. Their biggest tests were against fellow MLS sides Chicago Fire, Sporting Kansas City, and reigning Supporters Shield and MLS Cup Champions LAFC.
RSL faced SKC and LAFC in two closed-door friendlies. They came out victorious vs LAFC in a 2-0 match and were held to a 2-2 stalemate vs SKC. They then participated in the 2023 Desert Showcase pre-season tournament. In that tournament, they defeated USL side El Paso Locomotive FC 5-0, drew USL side Sacramento Republic FC 1-1, and beat fellow MLS side Chicago Fire 3-0. Braian Ojeda, new signing Carlos Gómez, DP Jefferson Savarino and MLS SuperDraft signing Bertin Jacquesson were all RSL’s top scorers throughout the pre-season, with two goals a piece.
Across all-time in MLS, the Whitecaps have faced RSL 29 times, boasting a record of 13W-11L-5D. They have a superb record at home, winning 11 games, losing three, and drawing one. In the 29 games where they have faced, Whitecaps have scored 39 goals and conceded 36.
The last time these two met, was in a one-all draw at America First Field last August. Sergio Córdova scored a wonderful goal against his new side for RSL, while Julian Gressel equalized with only three minutes of regulated time left.
WE ON TOPPPPPPPPPPP 🤌 pic.twitter.com/EKUG11j5To
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) August 21, 2022
A season-opener is always hard to predict. Both teams had solid pre-seasons, with both going on an undefeated streak for much of the pre-season. Their recruitment, however, hasn’t been the same. The Whitecaps have made many solid additions to their squad this offseason, while RSL has only bought two young Colombian players in full-back Brayan Vera and forward Carlos Gómez.
Taking into consideration the Whitecaps’ home form against RSL, as well as the fact that RSL starting striker Rubio Rubin is suspended for this match, it’s looking like the ‘Caps will probably squeak out a narrow win against Real Salt Lake. And don’t be surprised if Córdova comes off the bench to score against this familiar foe.