VANCOUVER, BC – Playoff positioning lei in the balance as Whitecaps FC 2 (6W-9L-5D) host Tulsa Roughnecks FC (6W-8L-4D) on Beach Night at Thunderbird Stadium on Friday.
With a single point separating WFC2 and Roughnecks FC in the standings, and both sides on the outside looking in the Western Conference postseason picture, the match has season-shifting implications.
Meanwhile, the Roughnecks come in with a three-match undefeated streak. Last Saturday, Tulsa drew 1-1 against Oklahoma City Energy FC at Taft Stadium, with midfielder Brady Ballew providing the scoring for the Roughnecks.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Beach dress code is encouraged.
Here are the storylines for the match at Thunderbeach:
SHOTS! SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS - EVERYBODY!
Blasco extends his point-scoring streak versus T2
Whitecaps FC 2 and Roughnecks FC are top two in the USL in total shots taken, averaging a combined 25.88 shots per game, making Friday's match a highly-anticipated one for fans who enjoy fast-paced action.
This would be right up Victor Blasco's alley. The Spanish midfielder, who has three goals and two assists in the last four matches, carves up scoring opportunities at will and will not hesitate to pull the trigger.
"We have a lot of exciting attackers, we're going to create opportunities, we just need to make sure we finish them," said Whitecaps FC 2 head coach Alan Koch.
The Tulsa offence is led by midfielders Gibson Bardsley (four goals) and Brady Ballew (three goals, three assists), as well as striker Sammy Ochoa (two goals, one assist).
With shots expected to come at a frantic pace, goalkeeping may decide the winner.
Just like in shots, the two sides are first and second in the league in saves.
Roughnecks FC goalkeeper Zac Lubin ranks second among USL goalkeepers with a 4.87 saves per game average.
Koch employs a three-headed goalkeeping rotation, with Spencer Richey, Marco Carducci or Paolo Tornaghi capable of changing the game with first-class saves on any given night. Richey (pictured) leads WFC2 with three wins this season.
POTENTIAL SIX-POINT SWING
Friday could very well be a swing game in the inaugural season for WFC2.
With a win, they can gain some separation from a five-team cluster separated by two points, all of which are trying to crawl up into one of the six playoff spots.
On the other hand, a loss would put WFC2 on the back foot with a daunting four-match August road swing on the horizon.
The Friday evening tilt is the first match of a home-and-home series with Roughnecks FC and the 'Caps are looking to get a jump on Tulsa.
With the Thunderbird faithful behind them, the 'Caps are optimistic about their chances on Friday night.
"We need to put together a 90-minute performance. We encourage our players to play an attractive brand of football. We want to knock the ball around, but we want to limit our mistakes when we are in possession," said Koch.
After Friday, Whitecaps FC 2 are on the road for the next four weeks. They are back at Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday, September 6 when they host defending USL champions Sacramento Republic FC. Tickets are available here.
Come and see the next generation of Whitecaps FC stars as USL arrives in Vancouver. WFC2 matches are a unique and affordable experience for fans, families, students, and supporters. Flex packs are also available to fit your schedule – get seven tickets to use any way you want, to any matches you want. For more information on all WFC2 ticket options, call 604-484-7862 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.