While the Seattle Sounders have already played the Vancouver Whitecaps once this season in Orlando, the match on Saturday is another refreshing matchup because it feels like we’re seeing a new team for the first time. I talked with Samuel from our friends at 86Forever ahead of the match.
Sounder at Heart: Things look pretty bleak for the Whitecaps this season from the outside looking in. What’s one reason you’re hopeful for this team’s future?
86Forever: Whether it was missing five players at MLS is Back, weird travel schedules, or simply poor play, it’s been a long season for the Whitecaps, no doubt. That being said, the performances of some of the young players on the roster have been really encouraging, so at least there’s that.
Last year, Marc Dos Santos was very wary of throwing young players into the fire when he didn’t feel like they were ready, but this season, he often hasn’t had a choice. Obviously, everyone got to know Thomas Hasal a little bit at MLS is Back, but unfortunately the young keeper will be out for the rest of the season with head and leg injuries. The other youngster to watch is Michael Baldisimo. After a long run of injuries and setbacks, the 20-year-old is finally finding first-team minutes. He’s a defensively capable No. 6 who really excels in picking out passes and playing long, line-breaking balls forwards.
SAH: Vancouver has managed to pick up a couple of good wins lately. What’s the driving force for success? What does this team look like when they play well?
86: It really felt like things were trending up before the 6-0 at LAFC. The Whitecaps have been at their best this season in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and although they don’t need a ton of the ball, they do fair much better when it’s relatively even in the possession battle. Guys like Fredy Montero and David Milinkovic have to be creative forces for the Whitecaps to have success, and if they want to take a step forward, Lucas Cavallini has to find the target more often.
SAH: Andy Rose will always have a place in Sounders fans’ heart. How is he getting on?
86: Andy has been a reliable depth player for the Whitecaps this year in a season where they’ve really needed it. He’s mostly slotted in at centreback, with Marc Dos Santos maintaining that this is where he belonged as a player all along, but he’s also seen a few minutes in the midfield.
Whenever Andy speaks with the media, it’s pretty obvious that he would make a great coach after his playing career is over (and he just got his coaching license!). He’s obviously got the leadership abilities, but his breakdown of the matches from a tactical perspective is usually very astute, and he really seems to enjoy talking about that element of the game as well.