VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC return to Major League Soccer action on Saturday when they visit Columbus Crew in the lone meeting between the two teams this season.
The “right type” of soccer
Last week, Crew midfielder Federico Higuain was quoted as saying: “The system that the coach has implemented is something that we enjoy and believe in … it's about showing the right type of football.”
The system Higuain speaks of is an attacking-based one that relies on possession, passing, and forward-thinking fullbacks.
That’s the style Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson has been trying to implement this season as well. Robinson and Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter, who is also a first-year manager in MLS, seem to be of the same school in that regard.
Along those lines, both coaches have predominantly used a 4-2-3-1 formation this season and have had similar results. The ‘Caps have one more point than the Crew after nine matches.
The question on Saturday won’t be about what system these teams will deploy. Rather, it will be: which team will execute it better?
Morales vs. Higuain
Speaking of the system, a key component of it is the central attacking midfielder. This player sits behind the lone striker and is largely responsible for “pulling the strings,” so to speak, from midfield.
For Columbus, that player is Higuain – a 29-year-old Argentine who was the team’s most valuable player in 2013. And for Vancouver, that player is Pedro Morales – a 28-year-old Chilean who joined the ‘Caps as a Designated Player at the beginning of the season.
Higuain has four goals and two assists this season, while Morales has three goals and two assists (though he has played 247 fewer minutes).
Will either of these players add to their totals on Saturday?
Salgado scores first MLS goal on April 30, 2011 at Columbus
Who starts up top?
Robinson has a number of different options to choose from. There’s Erik Hurtado, who started as the lone striker Wednesday against Toronto FC and has impressed in a substitute’s role the last several weeks.
And there’s Omar Salgado, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound striker who impressed in a substitute’s role on Wednesday after being recalled from USL PRO side Charleston Battery. Salgado also scored his first-career MLS goal against the Crew back in 2011.
Which player(s) will get the nod?
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.