End of the Road: Vancouver Whitecaps looking to end Utah stay on high note in clash versus Minnesota United

The Vancouver Whitecaps take on Minnesota United in MLS action on Saturday. Here is our preview ahead of that one.

After a lengthy stay, they’re preparing for one last rodeo.

For the Vancouver Whitecaps, it’s been a long 5 months since they first touched down in Utah, beginning their 2021 American journey.

Since then, they’ve gone on to play 8 games in their temporary home-away-from-home at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, all while doing their best to make the most of their temporary situation.

But now, their journey is finally over. They’ve already returned to Vancouver to start training again, and after Saturday, their next ‘home’ game on August 21st vs LAFC will finally be in Vancouver in front of the Whitecaps faithful at BC Place.

Before then, though, they’ve got one last clash, which comes against Minnesota United on Saturday, in which they’ll look to send off Sandy on a high note.

Here is our preview ahead of that one.

BTSVancity Player to Watch: Cristian Dajome

And to start, a player we’re looking to keep a close eye on in this game is ‘Caps winger Cristian Dajome, who enters this match in good form.

With 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 7 games, he’s played a big part in the ‘Caps recent run of form, which has seen them pick up points in 5 of their last 6 matches, as they’ve continued their slow climb out of the Western Conference basement.

So as the ‘Caps look to continue this run, expect a big game from Dajome, who will want to keep playing at the all-star level he’s managed to find recently.

Storylines: 

Elsewhere, here are some other storylines to keep an eye on Saturday:

Done playing in the Sand(y): 

And to start, as mentioned earlier, it’s the ‘Caps last game at Rio Tinto Stadium, so look for them to send off their adopted home in style on Saturday.

In 7 games listed as the home team (they also played an 8th as the away team against usual hosts, RSL), the Whitecaps have a record of 3W-3L-1D, so they’ve adapted to the venue quite nicely.

So look for them to push that record above .500 in this one, leaving on a high note, setting themselves up nicely for their return home.

Return from international duty: 

Otherwise, it’s worth noting that the ‘Caps will finally have their full squad back together again this week, as Lucas Cavallini and Maxime Crepeau are back from international duty with Canada, who were eliminated from the 2021 Gold Cup on Thursday by Mexico in the semi-finals.

They’re both unlikely to play, as Thomas Hasal will probably stay in goal considering Crepeau just played on Thursday, while Cavallini is suspended for this match for yellow card accumulation, dating back to before his departure to rejoin Canada.

But after a long month away from their team, it’ll just be nice to have them back into the fold again, reinforcing the ‘Caps ahead of a busy August.

Gauld(en) Goose: 

But while Cavallini and Crepeau’s return will be a big boost to the ‘Caps lineup, they’re not the biggest boost the ‘Caps got this weekend, as they finally announced the signing of Ryan Gauld as their new DP #10.

After a lengthy negotiation process with Portugal’s Farense over the services of the 25 y/o Scotsman, he was finally revealed as a Whitecaps player Saturday morning, giving the ‘Caps a player they’ve long needed.

He’s also very unlikely to play this weekend, as he’s yet to train with his new team, but just having him in their squad will be a big boost, giving the ‘Caps a star player to build around.

No Caio: 

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the ‘Caps will be without the services of midfielder Caio Alexandre against Minnesota, as he is also suspended due to yellow card accumulation after picking up a yellow last week vs LAFC.

Stats Splurge: 

Looking elsewhere, this matchup pits two very interesting teams statistically against one another, which should be interesting to see.

Offensively, the two teams couldn’t be any further from one another, as Minnesota currently sits 5th in MLS in Expected Goals (xG) per game with 1.6, which is a far cry from the ‘Caps, who sit 4th-last with 1.1.

Defensively, the numbers there are also quite similar, too, as Minnesota sits 8th in MLS with 1.19 xG against per game, while the ‘Caps sit 8th-last in that same category with 1.52 per game.

As a result, Minnesota’s expected GD of 0.42 blows away the ‘Caps expected xG of -0.42.

So because of that, Minnesota will have the statistical advantage, but it’s worth noting that the ‘Caps are trending up as of late, winning the xG battle in 3 of their last 4 games, including against xG darlings LAFC last week.

Projected XI:

Vancouver Whitecaps:

Record: 3W-7L-5D (14 PTS)

Head Coach: Marc Dos Santos

Minnesota United: 

Record: 6W-5L-4D (22 PTS)

Head Coach: Adrian Heath

2021 Matchup:

Minnesota United 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Looking Forward: 

So now, it’ll be interesting to see how the ‘Caps fare in their last game in Sandy, as they’ll look to give the faithful there one last night to remember.

After a rough start to the summer, things are looking up as of late for the Whitecaps, especially with a new big signing, the return of some key players, as well as the big move back home.

Because of that, expect a good performance from them on Saturday, as they look to get their campaign back on track, nearing the halfway point of this 2021 season.

Riding a bit of a positive wave, they’ll look to keep their head above water, instead of sinking back down, going back to square one of the process.

A win against Minnesota could go a long way towards doing that, and they’ll be fully aware of that, hopefully paving the way for a bright performance.

Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Minnesota United, Saturday, July 31st, 2021, 19:00 PDT, 22:00 EDT (Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy)

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