Whitecaps vs Earthquakes: A match preview
By Jon Szekeres
Another Road Test
Stop me if you've heard this one before; the Vancouver Whitecaps are apparently struggling on the road, or something. They'll get another chance to break the road goosegg, taking on the San Jose Earthquake tomorrow at Buck Shaw Stadium. The 'Caps a fighting a well publicized streak on the road, having gone winless in 11 straight away from BC Place, dating back to last July. Yikes.
Coming off winnable road losses to the Houston Dynamo and Chivas USA, it would be a true disappointment if the boys from Van City were unable to secure at least one point. I mean, truthfully, one measly point on a three match swing is disappointment enough. This will be one of the toughest matches they've faced so far, as the Earthquake have one of the premier scorers in MLS.
Will they Stop Wondo?
Chris Wondolowski might not be having the banner 2012 year he had when he led MLS with 27 twine ticklers, but he is still arguably the most dangerous player in MLS. His goals are down (just 2 so far) but his shots are right around where they should be, second in the league with 20. What does that mean? Well, Wondo is still getting his fair share of chances, he just needs to shake some of the rust off and re-discover his finish. It sounds like a major problem, but a bigger head scratcher would be if Wondo wasn't generating anything offensively. Eventually, Wondolowski will get it together, let's just hope it's not against the Whitecaps.
All Quiet on the Western Front
Despite dropping back to back contests, the Whitecaps are a confident bunch, led by Head Coach Martin Rennie. Rennie has said he won't make any major changes to his lineup, as he believes they are on the cusp of breaking through. Essentially that means a similar starting 11 to the one that took the pitch against Chivas USA. Camilo didn't exactly light the world on fire with his start, so Rennie might go back to the youth movement if Kenny Miller's hamstring tightens up. Erik Hurtado has looked better than Kekutah Manneh, but both have obvious problems with finish. It's a common problem among young attackers, and it could keep Camilo in the lineup if Miller can't go. If he can, then it's a boost to the club, because Kenny Miller has looked unbelievable so far.
What is the missing ingredient?
Finish. Finish. Finish. (Insert Finnish joke here) This falls on every member of the Whitecaps, from super sophomore Darren Mattocks to new comers Nigel Reo-Coker and Daigo Kobayashi. It's been there at times, but the Whitecaps need consistent finish from their top guns, especially in tight road contests. For example, against the Houston Dynamo, Darren Mattocks had four shots on goal, but just one marker. That's far too many misses for such a talented player like Mattocks.
The patented football.com guarantee:
The 'Caps are desperate for points, and you would have to think that eventually they will break through on the road. They've had some success against San Jose in the past, and with Wondolowski struggling, there is no reason this match shouldn't be won. That being said, I thought that against Chivas and Houston, and I was dead wrong both times.
With that in mind, I say The 'Caps eke out a 2-1 victory.