PREVIEW – The Vancouver Whitecaps face the difficult task of playing in various competitions, including the Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday vs Real CD Espana. With so many competitions and only 20 senior roster players, there will likely be some rotation in the starting XI for Wednesday’s game.
Vancouver Whitecaps Predicted Lineup vs Real CD Espana: A Rotated Squad?
How The Vancouver Whitecaps Have Lined Up Recently
Whitecaps Head Coach Vanni Sartini has set a relatively firm starting XI in the past two games, with only two changes between their first two MLS matches. Yohei Takaoka has quickly taken up the number one spot as his own, while Ranko Veselinovic has cemented his spot at center-back. His partner has changed in both matches, with Tristan Blackmon being his opposite for the opening match, while Mathias Laborda featured beside him against San Jose. Javain Brown has earned his place at right-back thanks to his incredible pre-season form and has started both games for the Whitecaps, the same as Luis Martins.
Vanni’s trusted midfield has been the same across both games, with Andres Cubas the anchor between Alessandro Schopf and Julian Gressel. Brian White has started both games leading the line, with Ryan Gauld on his left, and either Cristian Dajome or Pedro Vite on his right.
Córdova doesn’t crack the starting XI, but Mathías Laborda does, replacing Tristan Blackmon at RCB
— Felipe Vallejo (@FelipeV_FC) March 5, 2023
Whitecaps’ Recent Form and Tactics
Whitecaps’ start has been less than ideal in MLS. They have lost both their opening games and lost both after leading for the first half. Vanni Sartini has utilized a 4-3-2-1 formation in both games this year, with mixed results. On one hand, when they are playing on the front foot, they have fantastic passing plays. The midfield allows the play to progress quickly up the field, and allows the forwards to get space and threaten the opposition’s goal. The issue in both games, however, is that the team switched off after the two-thirds mark, and conceded two goals in quick concession.
Luis Martins has been a player that has been highly criticized as of late, due to his lack of positional awareness and difficulty in tracking back. The overall defense’s failure to close down crosses and stay structured in set pieces has allowed teams to change the game, even against the run of play. When asked about the frailties of defending short set-pieces through zonal marking, Sartini replied that “short set-pieces are the weapon you use against zonal marking, because you move the zone and try to create gaps to play the ball”.
“What we have to do better…is not get so antsy. The ball travels, but it’s still a set play. You need to be in the structure of that set play”.
The Whitecaps will hope that they get that right sooner rather than later with so many competitions on the line.
Fulltime in San Jose. pic.twitter.com/vbw4tftsWy
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 5, 2023
Whitecaps’ Player Availability
Once again, Deiber Caicedo is not fit quite yet as he is still getting up to speed with the rest of the squad. In the press conference last weekend, Vanni Sartini revealed that Alessandro Schopf had taken a knock during the game against San Jose. He then revealed on Tuesday’s press conference that they are hoping that Schopf is available for Saturday’s game against FC Dallas, but that he is unavailable for Wednesday’s game against Real CD Espana.
Cristian Gutierrez is a player whose availability is unclear. He was absent from the opening game due to IT band tightness but was not included on the injury list last week against San Jose. There has been no official update about his current status, but it is likely fans will see him make a return soon.
Sergio Cordova is likely to be close to being fully match-fit, but will probably start once more on the bench. It won’t be long, however, until Cordova will start to lead the line for the Whitecaps.
Isaac vs Sergio showdown
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 3, 2023
Predicted Lineup for The Vancouver Whitecaps
GK – Yohei Takaoka
RB – Javain Brown
CB – Mathias Laborda
CB – Tristan Blackmon
LB – Ali Ahmed
DM – Andres Cubas
CM – Julian Gressel
CM – Russell Teibert
CF – Ryan Gauld
CF – Pedro Vite
ST – Cristian Dajome
Photo Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports on September 17, 2022, of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Headshot.
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