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Massive Scouting Report: Vancouver Whitecaps

Only one western conference opponent remain for the Black & Gold in 2019

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Three matches remain in the 2019 Major League Soccer season for Columbus Crew SC. With matches against Eastern Conference opponents Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC looming, the Crew have an intriguing away contest to focus on first.

Matchweek 31 features the Black & Gold hitting the road to face their lone western conference opponent left on the season, the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Whitecaps have the nod in the all-time head to head record against Columbus at 5-2-2. They’ve also scored slightly more in the contests, averaging 1.6 goals per match compared to the Crew’s 1.1.

Let’s take an in-depth look at and break down the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Vancouver at a glance

Record: 7-9-15 (12th in West)

Form: W-L-L-L-W

Leading scorer: Freddy Montero (forward), Yordy Reyna (midfielder) – 7 goals

Assist leader: Ali Adnan (defender) – 4 assists

Whitecaps Expected Starting XI

Head coach Marc Dos Santos has tweaked the lineup frequently this season, preferring either a 4-3-3 formation or a 4-3-2-1 formation depending on the opponent. Being the counter-attacking and play-from-the-back type, Columbus will likely see a 4-3-2-1 formation, which is heavier emphasis on a stronger defense centrally.

A Lost Season?

Vancouver have been quite the underwhelming side over the course of the 2019 season. Not only did the Whitecaps not win a single match through their opening six, they even went on a stretch similar to the Crew’s, having not win a single game in nine consecutive matches.

It’s safe to say that life in the MLS hasn’t been the easiest for Dos Santos and Vancouver. They have the second fewest points in the entire league with only 30 and the second-fewest goals scored with 32. Averaging barely a goal per match, Vancouver lead only FC Cincinnati in those categories.

How the Crew win

On paper, despite the extensive road trip that Columbus was forced this late into the season, Columbus should have no problem coming away with all three points. Vancouver have struggled more consistently than most of the bottom-level teams in the league.

With Vancouver playing defensively, an early Crew goal would open up the game up. There may not be room to play direct and score the type of goal that Zardes tallied in Atlanta. However, if the Crew move the ball quickly in possession and push into the gaps that open up will give the Columbus attack room to create chances. Even a packed defense has gaps.

Winning is the only goal from here on out for head coach Caleb Porter and the Crew. They understand what’s at stake more than anyone else at the moment. Getting a win will give them much-needed momentum going into a tough final two-match stretch.

While Vancouver have the nod in the head-to-head record, Columbus currently have more at stake. In short, it’s do or die time for the Black & Gold.