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Massive Scouting Report: Vancouver Whitecaps

The Black & Gold head north for a clash with the top team in the West.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Following a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City Columbus CrewSC head north this weekend to take on another Western Conference foe in the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Last Sunday, Crew SC played its first match in two weeks. Despite scoring in stoppage time of the first half, the Black & Gold played uninspired and missed on easy chances. The Crew SC attacking players must be on the mark in order to turn the fortunates around this week.

The Whitecaps come into this match on an impressive unbeaten streak as well. Head coach Carl Robinson and his men have risen from hugging the playoff line, to the top of the Western Conference. Vancouver is unbeaten in five matches and scored 11 goals with its opponents scoring only five goals during that span.

Let’s take a look at the Whitecaps and see what Crew SC can expect Saturday night.

Vancouver at a Glance

Form: D-W-W-W

Leading Goal Scorer: Fredy Montero (11)

Assists Leader: Christian Bolanos (5)

Prolific Attack

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more notable strengths of the Whitecaps is the team’s prolific attack.

Vancouver possesses attackers that have great quality and pace. Erik Hurtado, Montero, and Yordy Reyna lead a talented crop of strikers that possess the ability to finish quality chances.

The Whitecaps often look for a quick buildup through the midfield and to find its attackers as quickly as possible. Despite playing a compact 4-2-3-1, Vancouver looks to stretch the opposition and find gaps for the attackers to get penetration.

Robinson relies heavily on his central midfielders Tony Tchani, Russell Teibert, and Aly Ghazal. The midfielders are tasked with winning the ball back as quickly as possible and keep the attack pressing the opposition.

Defense

Vancouver is fantastic defensively, conceding the third least amount of goals in the Western Conference. The Whitecaps rely heavily on the aforementioned Tchani, Ghazal, or Teibert to stop the opposition. If the opponent does get passed the midfield, Kendall Waston and Tim Parker stand at the ready to defend David Ousted’s goal.

Tchani, who was traded to Vancouver from Crew SC, has thrived in Robinson’s system ever since coming over in May. Tchani has demonstrated great defensive prowess and has found the back of the net three times in 21 appearances. Tchani is clearly benefiting from a change of scenery.

David Ousted

The Whitecaps’ goalkeeper looked impressive during the team’s current unbeaten streak, logging 15 saves and conceding only three goals over the span. Ousted possesses an incredible ability to make a game-changing save at a moment’s notice and keep his side in the game.

He is one of the vocal leaders for Vancouver and one of the key cogs in the impressive run.

How Crew SC win

Set pieces.

The Black & Gold must be successful when executing set pieces in the attacking third and must also be successful in defending set pieces.

Defensively Crew SC must be focused when Vancouver restarts the match. The Whitecaps are on top of the league when it comes to goals scored from set pieces.

Columbus cannot rely on winning the aerial battles, especially when going up against two tall central defenders. Thus, the team will have to have crisp and calculated passes when looking to work the ball into the final third.

Look for Gregg Berhalter to task wingers Justin Meram and Pedro Santos with the main offensive duties. Robinson likes to push his fullbacks up the pitch to assist on the attack. If Crew SC remain patient and absorb pressure, opportunities will await the Black & Gold on the counter attacks and the wings will be wide open for scoring opportunities.