PREVIEW – The Vancouver Whitecaps will look to improve upon their recent form against LA Galaxy in California on Saturday, in a match that has both teams looking for their first three points. With the Whitecaps now through to the quarter-finals of the Concacaf Champions League, they’ll look to carry some of that form that got them there into this MLS clash.
Vancouver Whitecaps Predicted Lineup vs LA Galaxy in West Coast Clash
How The Whitecaps Have Lined-up Recently
The Whitecaps have a pretty consistent lineup so far in the MLS. From the opening three games, seven players have started all three: Yohei Takaoka, Javain Brown, Ranko Vesilinovic, Andres Cubas, Julian Gressel, Alessandro Schopf, and Ryan Gauld. In the midweek loss to Real CD Espana, Vanni Sartini started a very rotated lineup, with the majority of the aforementioned players either on the bench or back home in Canada. Sartini said in the press conference before that midweek clash that, for the fringe players that were coming into the lineup, that game was going to be a chance to impress and fight for the starting spot for Saturday’s game.
With the Whitecaps losing 3-2, it might seem like not many players would have managed to impress the coach, but players like Ali Ahmed, JC Ngando, and Simon Becher all did well, given the circumstances. Nevertheless, Vanni said early on Friday in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game on Galaxy that we would see many of the usual suspects.
“I think most of the guys who didn’t travel will start that day [Saturday]… as of right now, I have a starting 13 in mind for the [match-day] squad”.
Whitecaps Recent Form & Tactics
The Whitecaps are 0W-1D-2L so far in the season, with their only win in all competitions coming in the Concacaf Champions League last week. While the ‘Caps have played some quite entertaining football, they have a major Achilles’ heel right now in their aerial and set-piece defending.
So far, the Whitecaps have the third-worst headed duel percentage (HDR%) in the league, with only 38.5% of their duels being won. Only Inter Miami and, coincidentally, LA Galaxy are worse. They have conceded one headed goal in three of their last five matches, and have conceded either directly from a set-piece or shortly after in every single match. Much of the ire of the fans based on these stats have been pointed to Sartini’s rigid belief in zonal defending.
Sartini on Friday recognized his team’s weakness in that regard, stating that it was “our weakest part, our only, in my opinion, insufficient part of our team”. However, he is likely to not throw out his tactics, and will instead focus on better relating his ideas to his players so that they improve on their spatial and zonal understanding.
Whitecaps Injuries to Consider
In the same Friday press conference, the only dubious player availability that Vanni has revealed the Whitecaps are monitoring is that of Alessandro Schopf, who is still not at 100% after last Saturday’s game. Deiber Caicedo is likely soon to come back, but this LA game will come too soon for his recovery. No word on whether Luis Martins has recovered from the slight knock that kept him out of the last two games either.
Whitecaps Predicted Lineup
GK: Yohei Takaoka
RB: Javain Brown
CB: Ranko Veselinovic
CB: Tristan Blackmon
LB: Ryan Raposo
DM: Andres Cubas
CM: Julian Gressel
CM: Alessandro Schopf
CF: Cristian Dajome
CF: Ryan Gauld
ST: Brian White
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports of March 8, 2023, of Ryan Gauld’s Headshot.