Match Preview: Vancouver Faces Huge Deficit in the CCL vs. LAFC

After a strong showing this past weekend at home, the Vancouver Whitecaps head down to California on Tuesday night to take on LAFC in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarter final match-up.

As was well documented, the first leg at home did not go well for Vancouver. They surrendered three second half goals, creating a big hole to dig themselves out of for the reverse fixture. While the Whitecaps were not dominated last Wednesday as much as the scoreline suggested, they were undoubtedly second best on the day.

Since the most recent clash between these teams, LAFC romped to another 3-0 victory, this time in league play over Austin on the back of a Denis Bouanga hat-trick. Notably, Bouanga now has 11 goals and 2 assists so far in 2023, with 5 goals in his last 2 matches. While the MLS Cup Champions are clearly firing on all cylinders and are probably the favourites to win champions league, I wonder how the Whitecaps will set up for this match-up. Will they field a rotated squad and focus on the upcoming weekend match-up in Austin, or will they throw everything they can at the black and gold in an attempt to get back in the tie?

Javain Brown, Cristian Dajome and Brian White all came off the bench against Portland, so I would think they could be good candidates to start with such a quick turnaround for Tuesday. Equally, Ryan Raposo didn’t see the pitch against the Timbers so I would expect him to start midweek. It sounds like Andres Cubas’ shoulder injury is not too serious, and although he is not making the trip down to LA, Vanni is hopeful he will be an option for the weekend. Beyond that, Alessandro Schopf and Sergio Cordova are still working back to full fitness but Vanni Sartini does not expect either of those players to be back until the bye week following the Austin match.

To me, all of this points to the Whitecaps playing this match-up pretty cautiously. With the way LAFC is buzzing at the moment and a number of key Whitecaps players injured or on short rest, I think the best move is to rotate the squad and focus on the upcoming weekend. Ultimately, the damage was done at BC Place and it will take nothing short of something miraculous for the Whitecaps to win by the margin they will need at the Banc (now BMO stadium). As mediocre as the start to the season has been for Vancouver, they are now sitting comfortably 8th in the West with 9 points through 7 matches, so it could be much worse. Added to this, their underlying numbers are actually very good, even where the execution has been suspect at times. Overall, the focus has to be getting more out of their good performances in league play.

Given all of this this, I can’t see the Whitecaps coming out on top in this match-up, although it is worth noting that Alajuelense did beat LAFC 2-1 at BMO in the second leg of the round of 16. Realistically, this is probably the best result the Whitecaps can hope for. Overall, LAFC is such a juggernaut right now that I think they will pick up yet another win on Tuesday night: by a score of 2-1 for a 5-1 aggregate victory over Vancouver.

(Image Credit: LAFC)

One thought on “Match Preview: Vancouver Faces Huge Deficit in the CCL vs. LAFC

  1. i dont see any point in thinking the Caps could win this game– the focus has to be on resting your prime players for Saturday’s game vs Austin– use your bench players and sprinkle in a few regulars- if the score were 0-2, then maybe go with a stronger line-up; 0-3- NADA

    if it turns out to be 0-6, who will remember, especially if we get a point or 3 in Austin

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