Playoff Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps at LAFC

After a season with many highs and lows, the Whitecaps are the only Canadian team left in the MLS Playoffs. Fighting to get top 3 in their last regular season game, unfortunately, other results didn’t go the Whitecaps’ way and left them without a seeded position. That meant their final game of the MLS season was a preview for the playoffs, drawing against an LAFC team that ended up in third place. So what can we learn from the game against the team from California?

  1. Give Bouanga some space, and he will score. Berhalter made a bad giveaway in the middle of the park last game, leading to to Ilie Sanchez passing the ball to the aforementioned Golden Boot winner. With four guys on him and no one really closing him in, Bouanga was free to adjust himself and take a long shot from distance, soaring it past Takaoka. It may seem simple, but the Golden Boot recipient can’t be given that space. The defenders need to commit to a tackle, because he will score regardless.
  2. Gauld + White = Magic. This is common knowledge now, but they combined really well, making up a sizable proportion of the Whitecaps’ goal scoring this season. They were in their element after the first LAFC goal, as pressure had set in. White is best when utilized in a counterattack playstyle catching the opponents off guard, as he’s not the fastest or most agile. Gauld on the other hand, can produce magic when he has support, and provides the team with much needed confidence to go for three points regardless of the situation. The team needs to position themselves to best assist him, as the open play chances are going to be mostly created by him.
  3. Get Richie in the Box. While Gauld may be the king of chances in open play, Laryea showed that he could be the king of drawing setpiece opportunities. Often his strength while at Toronto FC, the Canadian’s speed is a hassle for any defender to deal with, and many just decide to foul him to end the attack. LAFC was no stranger to this and had a staggering number of yellow cards, something that the Whitecaps can take advantage of in a best-of-3 series. As such, it would be smart to have Sartini give him the space

It’s going to be a tough ask to go on a best of three series with one of the Conference’s strongest teams, but the Whitecaps have won on the road this season, and there’s no indication they won’t be able to do it again.

What are your hopes for the match? Sound off below!

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