After three consecutive matches on the road across all competitions, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are back at BC Place this Saturday, June 4 as they face Western Conference adversaries Real Salt Lake in the club’s second annual Indigenous Peoples match.
The month of May saw the 'Caps collect valuable points in the Western Conference playoff race and progress to the semifinals of the Canadian Championship.
In fact, the 'Caps only lost once across all competitions in May and claimed points in four of their last five MLS matches, scoring eight goals and keeping two clean sheets.
Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake have continued to build on their success from 2021 after reaching the Western Conference final in the MLS Cup playoffs, as they sit third in the West with a 7W-3L-4D record this season.
The side is coming off a 3-0 win against Houston Dynamo FC at Rio Tinto Stadium, where they’ve been prolific in 2022 going undefeated across six matches.
However, on the road, the Claret and Blue have tallied a 2W-3L-3D record, conceding 13 of their 17 goals against this season.
In this edition of ‘Know Thy Enemy’, we look at Salt Lake’s offensive contributions this season, as well as their key attacking movements out wide.
SHARING THE LOAD
RSL’s offensive contributions have come from everywhere this season.
Whether it be defender Justen Glad chipping in with a goal off a set piece or forward Sergio Córdova making dangerous runs in behind opposing backlines, the team has had a knack of contributing by committee.
In total, 12 players on Salt Lake’s roster have contributed either a goal or an assist in their opening 14 matches of the season.
Córdova, Glad and Bobby Wood lead the way with three goals, Tate Schmitt has tallied two, while Andrew Brody, Maikel Chang, Damir Kreilach, Justin Meram, Pablo Ruiz and Marcelo Silva have each registered one goal.
The ‘Caps have also had 12 players contribute either a goal or an assist in the club’s first 13 matches in MLS play this year, with Lucas Cavallini leading the way with six goal contributions (four goals, two assists).
Cavallini will be missing the match on Saturday due to international duty with Canada’s men’s national team, meaning the Blue and White will have to continue sharing the attacking load to claim the three points on Saturday.
Salt Lake will also be missing a key piece in the form of Kreilach, who tallied 16 goals and nine assists last season but has been ruled out for an extended period in 2022 due to undergoing successful back surgery on Thursday.
DANGEROUS WIDE PLAY
A big part of RSL’s success offensively this season has been their play in wide areas, as they look to get service into the box by pushing their fullbacks up and getting their wingers creating havoc with their movement around the box.
The side has tallied 17 shot attempts off successful dribbles and 166 crosses this season, with most coming from wide areas, according to fbref.com.
In terms of goals scored, 11 of RSL’s 17 goals this season have come off crosses into the box from wide areas, showing how much they love exploiting wide areas on the pitch.
Leading the way in Salt Lake’s attacking creation out wide has been winger Maikel Chang, who’s stepped up in 2022 to provide five assists for his side, with four of them coming from crosses into the box.
The ‘Caps will need to limit RSL’s activity out wide on Saturday to prevent them from finding a rhythm in the match with their style of play.
Going into Saturday’s contest, both teams have shown prowess from set pieces.
The ‘Caps have created 26 shot attempts off dead ball situations, while Salt Lake has tallied 25 shot attempts off dead ball situations.
Additionally, the ‘Caps have tallied two goals from set pieces in their last five matches across all competitions, with centre back Érik Godoy scoring both.
Be sure to keep an eye on set pieces, as they could make a difference for either side on Saturday.
You won’t want to miss this Western Conference showdown this Saturday, June 4 from BC Place, with kickoff set for 4 p.m. Tickets for the match are available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets. You can watch the match live on TSN1/3/5 and AM730, with the radio pre-game show starting at 3 p.m.