Both sides are assured of post season play when Real Salt Lake entertain Vancouver at the Rio Tinto. But there is plenty else at stake. RSL can hit the 59 point mark which would guarantee them a 50% chance of hosting the MLS Final should they reach it. Only one of DC United (57) and Chicago (56) can win today as they play each other. New York Red Bulls now sit on 57 too after a 0-3 win in Philadelphia and will be in the last eight unless United and Chicago draw 13-13 or higher.
United just need a draw to join them and ensure Houston will meet Chicago in the Eastern Conference play-in.
RSL would have to travel to Kansas City but could conceivably host all the other sides should they win today. Vancouver are seeking a draw to hoist them above Montreal who surprisingly lost 0-1 at home to New England earlier today. A point for the Caps would secure a better seeding in the Canadian Cup. But with a trip to LA Galaxy on Thursday in the play-in game, how many of his resources will head coach Martin Rennie commit?
Steve Pandher in Vancouver previews the game.
The Vancouver Whitecaps enter their last match of the regular season having booked a spot in the playoffs but shaken due to the result against Portland. They have a chance to regain some of that confidence when they travel to Utah to face Real Salt Lake. In their previous two matches the teams have split their meeting with each side winning their home games.
While I do see them going into the game with a similar look there may be some changes in the eleven but Brad Knighton should see the start. The backline will look the same with Lee Young-Pyo, Andy O’Brien, Jay DeMerit and Jordan Harvey on the last line of defense for the Whitecaps.
It does get a little murky as you move to the midfield as Alain Rochat may be rested due to the knock he received in the last game forcing him out. It may force Rennie to use Gershon Koffie as the holding midfielder with Barry Robson playing more of an attacking role.
The wings may go to more of a traditional type with Darren Richards and Russell Teibert both getting a call. The striking duo might also change if Mattocks is healthy enough to take place of Camilo and next to Kenny Miller.
It won’t be easy to gain any traction against RSL as Rio Tinto is a tough enough place to play but this team is looking to enter the post season on a hot streak winning four of their last six games. They are also looking to secure the second spot in the conference as they are tied with Seattle so a win will be vital for them.
For the Caps it is most about gaining confidence and momentum going into the playoffs as the first team in Canada to accomplish that feat in MLS. The team is also looking to secure the top seed in next year’s Voyageurs Cup which is at the moment a tie between themselves and Montreal.
There is plenty of motivation for both teams to put a good effort and while they don’t need to win this game for the standings, the Caps will fell much better about their chance as they look forward to face the defending chances in the play-offs.
Darren Mattocks vs. Nat Borchers
If the Caps look to make any noise in the playoffs then they must get Darren Mattocks as close to the form he showed in the middle part of the season. They need his pace and finishing against the Galaxy so a solid showing against RSL will give some confidence to the rookie.
He will try to use his speed against a player who may not get accolades of his fellow centerbacks but Nat Borchers is one of the best in MLS having been named defender of the year three times.
The normally reliable player has dealt with a few injuries at the beginning of the season but looks to finally be in form going into the playoffs.
Andy O’Brien vs. Alvaro Saborio
Since arriving in MLS and starting games on a regular basis Andy O’Brien has provided the backline with a calm and stability. There were few goals allowed early in the season before he was signed but now it seems to be more by design.
He will go up against a striker who in any other year Alvaro Saborio would be in prime position to capture the Golden Boot in the MLS but he will have to settle for second due to Wondo’s amazing year. The Costa Rican striker has had his best season in MLS with 17 goals and is a handful for opposing defenders in the final third.