The Whitecaps face their biggest test of the season so far, when Sporting Kansas City bring their 100% record to BC Place tonight.
The Caps went the first 428 minutes of the season without allowing a goal before letting the floodgates open as they gave up three in ten minutes against the San Jose Earthquakes.
They return home after two on the road and face the best side in MLS at the moment in Sporting who has picked up full points through six games.
The two clubs played a memorable match last season when the Caps ceded SKC a three goal lead and then scored twice in the last moments of the match to salvage a single point.
Eric Hassli vs. Aurelien Collin: While it is only five games into the season there is a little desperation in the Whitecaps camp when it comes to lack of Hassli’s production in terms of goals. Against Sporting Kansas City the Frenchman will face fellow countryman and try to break his goalless streak that extends into last season. Collin has the technical skills and strength to match up well with Hassli so finding space in the final third will be the key for the designated player.
Jordan Harvey vs. Kei Kamara: After a forgettable game last week, especially on the third goal by the Earthquakes, Jordan Harvey looks to bounce back against SKC. It will be a tough test as he faces the athletic and big Kei Kamara who is not afraid to unleash his shot as he leads the MLS in that category. If Harvey can neutralize the Sierre Leone native then both DeMerit and Bonjour can handle Sapong in the middle.
Teal Bunbury: Vancouver was the first location in Canada that Bunbury played a match after declaring that he would play for the United Stated internationally. The crowd, understandably, voiced their displeasure at this decision with boos and taunts with the majority coming from the supporter sections.
It did not rattle the former 1st round pick as he went on to score two goals and broke out of a scoring slump. Similar to last season Bunbury is struggling to find his form and has been surpassed on the depth chart by CJ Sapong.
With three games in a week, will Peter Vermes roll the dice and start Bunbury with the hopes to duplicate a similar response.
The Whitecaps are looking to making a switch to a 4-4-2 formation with Hassli and Le Toux forming a partnership up top.
However, expect Le Toux to drop back quite a bit in order to provide support to the central pair of Thorrington and Koffie as it looks as though Rennie will be giving Davidson a rest.
The change in tactics will see Chiumiento bring his skills to the left side of the midfield while Atiba Harris will bring size and pace to the right.
With Alain Rochat not fully recovered from a knee injury, Joe Cannon will have the same backline of Lee, Bonjour, DeMerit and Harvey for the third straight match.
At first glance the Whitecaps look as though they will face a vaunted attack but Sporting is one of the better defensive clubs in MLS as well allowing only one goal through six games which was scored on a free kick.
The backline with the holding midfielders have started every game has allowed the fewest shots against (9) which has meant that Jimmy Nielsen has only had to make eight saves which is lowest among starters. There will be a new starter in the midfield as Julio Cesar has been ruled out and his spot will most likely be taken by Paulo Nagamura.
The MLS league in assists, Graham Zusi, will be the key to their attack and he has two dangerous scorers at his disposal. Both Kamara and Sapong are off to fast starts as each has scored three goals and both are not afraid to unleash their shots on the net. Kamara is especially threatening as he leads the league in shots attempted and shots on goal while Sapong is load to handle in the box.
The Whitecaps are still looking for the elusive connection in the final third as their last touch has failed them time and time again going back into last season. They were able to open the scoring but could not secure a two goal lead despite having a number of chances. When they did allow that first goal of the season, it also brought back flashes from last season when one mistake compounded into many and the game was lost.
Playing for the first time after suffering a loss will be a good measuring stick for the 2012 Whitecaps and will show how far the team has come.