Let me get a few things out of the way early.
First off, welcome to the first Whitecaps Wednesday of 2015, and the first in a weekly series leading up to first kick in which I will delicately prognosticate what results Caps fans can expect this upcoming season.
Why delicately, you ask? Well, for one, rosters have yet to be finalized. For two, injuries are inevitable throughout the course of a season and can certainly affect outcomes. For three, “delicately” is a qualifier Jason forced upon me as he was reticent about the whole thing from the get-go. He muttered something about his bookie getting upset. I, on the other hand, fully encourage you to take all of my predictions straight to the bank.
And one last thing before we get started: the historical results used in this article are strictly from within Whitecaps FC’s MLS era, that is, from 2011 until present.
So here we go – month one of the Whitecaps 2015 MLS season shakes down like this.
Game #1: First kick takes place at BC Place, March 7 versus Toronto FC.
While these two clubs have only met five times in MLS regular season play, they are far from strangers; they’ve managed to squeeze in another 6.66666667 matches in Canadian Championship play.
Historical Result Table:
|19 – MAR – 2011||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Toronto FC||4 – 2|
|29 – JUN – 2012||Toronto FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||1 – 0|
|11 – JUL – 2012||Toronto FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||3 – 2|
|02 – MAR – 2013||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Toronto FC||1 – 0|
|17 – JUL – 2014||Toronto FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||1 – 1|
Canadian Championship Play
|18 – MAY – 2011||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Toronto FC||1 – 1|
|25 – MAY – 2011||Toronto FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Horseshit|
|02 – JUL – 2011||Toronto FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||2 – 1|
|16 – MAY – 2012||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Toronto FC||1 – 1|
|23 – MAY – 2012||Toronto FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||1 – 0|
|07 – MAY – 2014||Toronto FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||2 – 1|
|14 – MAY – 2014||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Toronto FC||2 – 1|
*Note that the scores above are represented solely by the result after the regular run of play.
**The match originally scheduled for May 25, 2011 was called off in the 60’ minute due to inclement weather with the Caps leading 1-0. The game was replayed, in its entirety, on July 2, 2011.
The Rub: The Whitecaps have yet to drop a season opener since joining MLS, including two against Toronto FC in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Expect a Whitecaps victory, buoyed by what will surely be an electric crowd at BC Place and an inspired newcomer in Octavio Rivero. 4-1 Whitecaps.
Game #2: Exactly one week later (that makes the date March 14), the Caps head to Toyota Park to take on the Chicago Fire.
After Chicago set an MLS record for ties in a season with 18 last year, Fire head coach Frank Yallop has used his Designated Player spots to add two strikers in an attempt to find a couple more of those elusive GWG’s in 2015.
Historical Result Table:
|07 – MAY – 2011||Chicago Fire||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||0 – 0|
|07 – AUG – 2011||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Chicago Fire||4 – 2|
|14 – JUL – 2012||Chicago Fire||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||1 – 0|
|14 – JUL – 2013||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Chicago Fire||3 – 1|
|30 – JUL – 2014||Chicago Fire||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||0 – 0|
The Rub: The match in Chicago last season was quite possibly the worst game of soccer I watched all year, and that’s including the unfortunate foosball game between my senile Aunt Lucy and legally blind Uncle Lewis I took in over the May long weekend. Both teams were at the tail end of their busiest stretches of the season, so it’s understandable the squads were focused on playing defense first.
Everyone involved should be much fresher for this one, so I anticipate seeing a few goals scored. That being said, history tends to repeat itself and I’m soothsaying this one ends in a 2-2 draw.
Game #3: Vancouver heads to Florida for their first game against the lavender-clad newcomers Orlando City FC on March 21.
The expansion squad is led by Brazilian DP Kaka, an attacking midfielder who spent 2013 playing in La Liga, not unlike Vancouver’s own Pedro Morales. That matchup in midfield is certainly one to keep an eye on.
The Rub: The reality is expansion clubs rarely fare well in their first season or two (or three or four). Of course if you’re Toronto FC, you might as well write off the first decade and look to attain some level of success in year 14. Orlando, however, appear to be one team bent on bumping the trend. They have amassed a good pool of talent (on paper at least) in the lead up to their inaugural season and should field a competitive squad.
That being said, growing pains are inevitable and the Whitecaps earn their second win of the season, 2-1.
Game #4: The last fixture of the month sees Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers FC head north to BC Place on March 28.
These two organizations have never liked each other. But I think it’s fair to say that the 2014 MLS season brought the level of disdain to new levels.
On the pitch, the two squads each embarrassed one another in front of their home supporters. The Whitecaps’ win in Portland ushered in this gem of a presser from Timbers’ coach Caleb Porter:
Off the pitch, with the two clubs jockeying for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Porter reminded the public of the Whitecaps’ failure down the stretch in 2013. Then, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson issued a permission slip prior to the Caps must-win game against the Sounders, “allowing” Timbers’ fans to cheer for a Seattle victory, which would have eliminated Vancouver from the playoffs. Needless to say, this one should be fun.
Historical Result Table:
|20 – AUG – 2011||Portland Timbers FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||2 – 1|
|02 – OCT – 2011||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Portland Timbers FC||0 – 1|
|26 – MAY – 2012||Portland Timbers FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||1 – 1|
|25 – AUG – 2012||Portland Timbers FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||2 – 1|
|21 – OCT – 2012||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Portland Timbers FC||0 – 1|
|18 – MAY – 2013||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Portland Timbers FC||2 – 2|
|03 – AUG – 2013||Portland Timbers FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||1 – 1|
|06 – OCT – 2013||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Portland Timbers FC||2 – 2|
|02 – JUN – 2014||Portland Timbers FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||3 – 4|
|31 – AUG – 2014||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||Portland Timbers FC||0 – 3|
|20 – SEP – 2014||Portland Timbers FC||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||3 – 0|
The Rub: Expect fireworks. Expect energy. Expect a Whitecaps loss. The Timbers came on strong in the second half of 2013 and I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t continue. The Whitecaps have also had a tendency to come up short in important games, although that changed somewhat in the latter stages of 2014. That being said, Portland has reason to come into this one with extra motivation after watching the Whitecaps quash their chances at the postseason. Portland in turn steals the win at BC Place, 3-1.
The End Result: Should everything go according to (my) plan, the Caps will enter April with a respectable 2-1-1 record, however after the loss to Portland, fans will be feeling a little down. Be a kindly neighbour and have some beer ready to console them.
That’s it for March, keep an eye out for April’s 100% guaranteed, sure-fire, ironclad results coming soon to a website near you.
(It will be here. On this website. Next week.)