PREVIEW- While it might be a familiar setting and a familiar opponent, the Vancouver Whitecaps will have an extra special occasion tomorrow as they host the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarter-Final against LAFC. With LAFC unable to beat the Whitecaps at BC Place since 2018, history is in favor of a result of the Whitecaps. But they will have to be wary of “the best team in Concacaf” according to Whitecaps Head Coach Vanni Sartini, and the firepower that comes with that title.
Semi-Final Awaits The Victor: Whitecaps vs LAFC Match Predictions
Whitecaps’ Recent Run of Form
The Vancouver Whitecaps finally recorded their first MLS victory on Saturday, thrashing a poor CF Montreal side 5-0. The fact that CF Montreal lost their captain Samuel Piette inside the opening five minutes, and then went down to 10 men inside the opening 35, it was set up perfectly for the Whitecaps to take advantage. However, a team needs to be decisive in those moments, and the Whitecaps had to rely on the unlikeliest of players to be decisive in young bucks Simon Becher and Ali Ahmed. The two Whitecaps FC 2 players combined well to bring about four out of the five goals on the night. A momentum that they will hope to bring on Wednesday against LAFC.
Becher scored his first goal of the season on the road to Real Espana in the return leg of the earlier SCCL round, having scored three times in the league since. Whitecaps actually lost that return leg 3-2 but advanced after winning 5-0 in the first leg of the tie. Sartini will hope that his team is as resolute defensively as they were in the home leg of that tie in this upcoming match, but will be wary of the gulf in class between the two respective oppositions.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) April 2, 2023
LAFC Recent Run of Form
LAFC is in good form so far in 2023. They are undefeated in their opening five games, winning three and drawing twice. Their only defeat was a shock home defeat to Costa Rican side LD Alajuelense, who defeated LAFC 2-1. Like the Whitecaps however, LAFC did enough in the first leg to advance to the next round, beating Alajuelense in Costa Rica 3-0. They have been unable to win away from home against MLS opposition, drawing both of their away games so far against Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders.
LAFC’s best player so far has been Gabonian forward Denis Bouanga, who has six goals and two assists in all competitions so far. He scored a hattrick in the first leg against Alajuelense and recorded two goals and an assist against New England in a home MLS 4-0 victory in mid-March. With the Gabonian forward stepping up to fill the gap that Colombian striker Chicho Arango left after his exit from the team, the reigning MLS Cup Champions will likely be the favourites in the tie. However, they will hope that they can avoid the same sort of performance that they allowed against Alajuelense in the second leg, and finish the job properly.
4 Matches. 9 Goals. 0 Losses.
— LAFC (@LAFC) April 1, 2023
Like against Montreal last weekend, the Whitecaps have a pretty even record against LAFC, with both teams winning four fixtures respectively, and having drawn thrice. The last time both teams met at BC Place was this past July when the Whitecaps snatched a late-winner thanks to Paraguayan DP Andres Cubas, who thundered home the goal with less than five minutes to play.
In the last five fixtures at BC Place, LAFC has lost four times, with their only victory coming in their debut season of 2018, where they won 2-0. However, since then, LAFC has had the more emphatic of victories, twice scoring six goals past Vancouver, each in different seasons (6-1 in 2019 and 6-0 in 2020). With honours even between them, this tie might be the biggest matchup between them in recent history.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) July 3, 2022
With a strong home record against Wednesday’s opponents and momentum from a 5-0 thumping of CF Montreal, the Whitecaps come into this game in arguably their best chance to qualify for the semi-finals. But LAFC has yet to lose a match to MLS opposition, and will likely try to play for the breakthrough goal and then sit back. Given this, the Whitecaps will do well to come away with a narrow 1-0 victory and bring the game back to Los Angeles for the decider.
Photo Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports on March 20, 2022, of Ilie Sanchez and Ryan Raposo’s Headshot.