#LAFCvVAN-349

In their final away match of the regular season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are set for a quick trip to Hollywood to face Los Angeles FC this Tuesday, November 2 at Banc of California Stadium in a match featuring major playoff implications in the Western Conference.

With a win, the ‘Caps would clinch the club’s first playoff berth since 2017 and bring themselves one step closer to hosting a home playoff match at BC Place.

A ‘Caps win would also see LAFC nearly, but not officially, eliminated from the playoff race.

Ahead of Tuesday’s crucial match, we look at the top match-ups to watch between the two sides across the field.

BRIAN WHITE vs. CRISTIAN ARANGO

Two of the league’s most in-form strikers will take to the pitch on Tuesday night, as Brian White faces off against Cristian Arango.

With both having joined their respective clubs at the mid-way mark of the season, the pair have come up with huge moments in the Western Conference playoff race to vault their team closer to a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

For White, the former New York Red Bulls forward sits as the ‘Caps leading goal scorer with 12 goals this season, becoming the seventh player in the club’s MLS history to score double digit goals in a season.

Of his 12 strikes, 11 of those have come in the last 14 matches, along with two of his three assists.

The New Jersey native is tied for third in the league in game-winning goals with five, which includes key winners in the ‘Caps last two home matches against Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United FC.

White also claimed the MLS Player of the Week award for Week 29 for scoring his first career hat-trick against San Jose Earthquakes on October 2 and has been named to the MLS Team of the Week three times in the month of October.

As for Arango, the Colombian striker has settled into MLS quite nicely after coming over from Colombian first division side Millionarios, tallying 13 goals in 15 appearances for the Black and Gold.

Arango has also been named to the MLS Team of the Week three times and claimed the MLS Player of the Week in Week 31 for scoring a hat-trick against FC Dallas.

It’s sure to be quite the match-up to watch this Tuesday between two of the league’s most in-form goal scorers.

LEONARD OWUSU vs. LATIF BLESSING

Tuesday’s tilt could see two Ghanaians face off in the middle of the park in ‘Caps midfielder Leonard Owusu and LAFC midfielder Latif Blessing.

Owusu, who’s made 22 MLS appearances this season, has proven to be a driving offensive force in Vanni Sartini’s 3-4-1-2 system by bringing the ball forward from midfield and making line-breaking passes into the final third.

The Ghanaian has also been able to create space in the middle of the park with his nifty dribbling, tallying 11 successful dribbles in his last 13 matches.

In addition, the ‘Caps have posted an 8W-1L-3D record when Owusu starts, showing how important he’s been to the ‘Caps success.

Opposite of Owusu will most likely be his fellow countryman Latif Blessing, who scored his second goal of the season last Tuesday against Seattle Sounders FC.

The box-to-box midfielder originally started out his career as a winger, but was shifted to his now more usual position by LAFC head coach Bob Bradley back in 2018.

Like Owusu, the former Sporting Kansas City man isn’t afraid to dribble past his opponents, registering 43 successful dribbles in 28 appearances this season.

Expect Blessing to cover plenty of ground on both sides of the ball, whether that be tracking back with his pace to make tackles at the top of the box or make clever runs from deep positions into the final third to open up space.

MAXIME CRÉPEAU vs. CARLOS VELA

Throughout the season, Maxime Crépeau has come up huge on numerous occasions to preserve key results for the ‘Caps.

Tuesday night will be another test for the Canadian international as he comes up against one of MLS’ best in former Landon Donovan MVP winner Carlos Vela.

The Mexican winger has been working his way back to full fitness from a hamstring injury he sustained against the ‘Caps back on August 21 and could be an option from the start for LAFC on Tuesday.

Vela, who holds the record for most goals by one player in an MLS season (34 in 2019), will be looking to add to his five goals and five assists this season after struggling with injuries over the past two years.

It won’t be an easy task for Vela though, as Crépeau has had an incredible season in between the sticks for the ‘Caps.

The Greenfield Park, Quebec native sits tied for third in the West in clean sheets with a career high of six, has the fifth best save percentage in the league at 75.5 amongst keepers with more than 20 games and registered the fourth longest shutout streak in MLS this year at 375 minutes.

Crépeau also made his first MLS penalty kick save back in September at BC Place when he denied FC Dallas from grabbing a late equalizer in stoppage time to give the ‘Caps the full three points on the night.

If the ‘Caps are to clinch their first postseason berth since 2017, expect White, Owusu, and Crépeau to be a big part of it.

You can catch the match live this Tuesday, November 2 at 7:30 p.m. PT on TSN1/4 and AM730, with the radio pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m. PT.