Wednesday, September 23, 2020
7:30 p.m. PT
TV: YouTube TV, Estrella TV
RADIO: ESPN LA 710AM, ESPN App, KFWB 980 AM
Just when they appeared to finally find their footing on a tremendous 4-2 result against the Portland Timbers on September 13, the Black & Gold will have to go back to the drawing board after suffering a 3-0 defeat to reigning MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders FC Friday night.
Up next for LAFC, they face a surging Vancouver Whitecaps squad helmed by former LAFC assistant coach Marc Dos Santos, who will surely be eager to take it to his old club on Wednesday night at Banc of California Stadium.
This will be the first meeting between these two sides in this tumultuous 2020 MLS Season. This is the fifth time LAFC and Vancouver have met in the regular season, with the Club owning a 2-1-1 record, going unbeaten at home to the tune of 1-0-1. Past meetings have included a 2-0 LAFC shutout victory in the inaugural game between the two Western Conference sides on April 13, 2018 and a 6-1 LAFC trouncing in their last meeting on July 6, 2019.
The Whitecaps are a club that has lingered around the bottom of the Western Conference table early in the 2020 MLS Regular season, but have been surging recently, winning three of their last four games and finding arguably their best form during Head Coach Marc Dos Santos’s tenure. Vancouver opened the season with a loss to Sporting Kansas City and a win at Galaxy before getting sent home in the Knockout Round of the MLS is Back Tournament by Sporting KC in penalties. Upon returning home for the next phase of the season restart, the club lost three in a row - twice to Toronto FC and once to the Montreal Impact before taking three of their last four with wins against Toronto, Montreal and Real Salt Lake. The Whitecaps currently sit 7th in the Western Conference with a record of 5-7-0 (15 pts).
LAFC had another unfortunate match in Seattle, finding themselves down 2-0 in the first half from two PK’s early against the Seattle Sounders, before ultimately conceding the last goal to Raul Ruidiaz in the 82nd minute for the Club’s fourth straight road loss.
“I’ve said a few times, that now facing adversity, and having a real way as a group to play through it – that is the challenge for us,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “When you go through a tough stretch, it just seems like no matter what, things go against you.”
VANCOUVER IN DEPTH
For the second match in a row, LAFC faces a low-block, compact, physical squad in Vancouver, but unlike the low-block styled Seattle Sounders who look to proactively defend and pressure once the opposition enters their airspace, Vancouver will continue to drop to try and limit opposition chances with a large number of bodies defending in their box. The Whitecaps have a strong defensive form, but on the attacking end, they rely more on allowing skillful personnel to express themselves and create chances offensively.
A CLASH OF SYTLES
From a playing style perspective, Vancouver Whitecaps FC could be characterized as the anti-LAFC. Where LAFC plays a high-pressing, expansive, possession-oriented and free-flowing style, Vancouver is modeled in the classic Italian, conservative, low-block, defensive style where their own attack rarely begins anywhere higher than their own 18. Much like last match against the Sounders, whichever team can find a way to impose their stye on the game will likely find success.
LAFC WILL WIN IF…
The Club’s backline can effectively mark and be continuously aware of the transition that could come through with any potential turnover. The Black & Gold must find a way to exert an edge and a certain physicality that doesn’t take themselves out of their own game if they want to find success.
VANCOUVER CAN WIN IF…
If one of their offensive weapons is able to fashion a big chance, they can find success, especially if LAFC makes mistakes. Vancouver is a squad that rarely takes any liberties on the defensive end, and if LAFC gets caught in its attack and loses its defensive form, the Whitecaps can find success.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT…
Vancouver served the Black & Gold with their first loss of the 2019 season last year, a 1-0 defeat at BC Place on April 17, and although LAFC earned certain vengeance later in the year with a 6-1 victory at home in July, the Whitecaps arguably created the blueprint for the rest of the league on how to deal with LAFC offensively. Prior to the April 17 loss, LAFC was thrashing teams left and right, outscoring their opponents by a +16 goal differential before Vancouver presented a different way to deal with the offensive firepower: sit back and try to immediately turn every LAFC turnover into a foot race between their forwards and the LAFC backline.
Freddy Montero is in great form of late, scoring two goals and adding three assists in Vancouver’s last two matches, both wins. His success will likely have a strong effect on the outcome of the match.
Another interesting element of this match is the battle for Bradley family supremacy. LAFC head coach Bob Bradley will be facing off for the first time this season against his son-in-law, Vancouver defender Andy Rose, who is married to Bob’s daughter Ryan.