Los Angeles Football Club are back in action on Saturday, when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps for the teams’ second meeting this season and first at The Banc. To find out what’s been up with the Whitecaps since that 1-0 LAFC loss, we checked in with Samuel Rowan of SB Nation Whitecaps blog Eighty Six Forever. Thanks for Samuel for taking the time to answer my questions!
Angels on Parade asks Eighty Six Forever:
1. LAFC fans remember the last match against the Whitecaps, perhaps not fondly. How have things gone for the Whitecaps since the last meeting between the teams?
Since that meeting on April 17th, the Whitecaps have just three wins and just one win in their last eight matches. The team has been rather skillful at earning a draw even when the performance might not have deserved it (coming back from 2-0 down against both Colorado and FC Dallas recently), but ultimately Marc Dos Santos’ squad doesn’t have the offensive prowess or squad depth required to compete near the top of the Western Conference table. In Seattle last weekend, the Whitecaps barely had a threatening shot on target through 95+ minutes and had their hearts broken at the death by Kelvin Leerdam in the 96th minute to lose 1-0. As decent as the Whitecaps have been defensively, you can only give up so many opportunities before one of them finds the back of the net - and last weekend’s match in Seattle was a great example of that.
2. Vancouver have scored the fewest goals of any team in the Western Conference. Why the problems in front of goal? Is it a matter of personnel, tactics, something else?
In short, both. Being more clinical in the final third has been a topic discussed almost non-stop at training throughout the season. While the coaching staff has been playing with different formations and making constant individual adjustments, there is no substitution for quality players and the Whitecaps simply lack quality at attacking positions. In the offseason, the addition of Lucas Venuto and Lass Bangoura on the wings, as well as the re-introduction of Fredy Montero up front was supposed to fit Marc Dos Santos’ offensive system. While none of these players have been a “poor fit” per se, they also haven’t brought the offensive consistency and creativity required to produce at the MLS level. Both Venuto and Bangoura have attractive attributes but still look rather raw in their positions, and at 31 it looks as though Fredy Montero has lost a step in comparison with his first stint with the Whitecaps in 2017. Marc Dos Santos has stated that he wants to improve the club in “four key positions” and one of those would certainly have to be at striker. There have been rumours that the club has pursued Korean striker Hwang Ui-jo, but only time will tell if this is a realistic possibility.
3. Of course, LAFC remember Marc Dos Santos from his time with the club. What is the overall attitude regarding his tenure at this point in the season?
Despite the largely negative tone of these first two responses, I think that Dos Santos is still viewed very positively by most fans, the media and supporters groups. Whether we like to admit it or not, I think everyone in Vancouver knew that this was going to be a rebuilding year for the Whitecaps. The massive roster turnover and culture change which occurred in the offseason would be difficult for any manager to deal with, but was a particularly big ask for someone stepping into the role for the first time at the MLS level. Ultimately, I think the fans have faith that Marc Dos Santos is capable of doing the right things to make the Whitecaps a perennial contender in MLS (given time), the big question is, will the front office be willing to buck up financially and give Dos Santos the resources to seek out and buy the players he needs.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for Saturday’s game?
I don’t see the Whitecaps having the same success they did against LAFC at BC Place, so i’m going to predict a 3-1 victory for LAFC.
You can read my answers to Samuel’s questions at Eighty Six Forever.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!