Rich Fagan and Whitecaps FC 2 are back on the north side of the 49th with red hot Swope Park Rangers on the docket for a midweek nooner at Thunderbird Stadium on Wednesday. It will be a tough test for young WFC2 who are showing signs of turning things around with a solid first half in last Saturday's road draw in Colorado Springs.
Wednesday's match will be a test match for the upcoming Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, which will be implemented in MLS after the All-Star game.
Four types of match-changing decisions/incidents can be reviewed:
- Penalty / no penalty decisions
- Direct red cards (not 2nd yellow cards)
- Mistaken identity)
In all these situations, the VAR is only used after the referee has made a decision (including allowing play to continue), or if a serious indicent is "missed", i.e. not seen by the match officials.
The final decision will always be taken by the referee.
Second go around
Wednesday’s match will mark the second time these clubs have met this season. In their first meeting on May 5 in Kansas City, the ‘Caps fell behind early before pulling one back late, losing 3-1.
A win on Wednesday could mark a turning point in WFC2’s season by defeating a team arguably in the best form of any USL club, and one who got the better of the boys earlier in the year.
The young 'Caps are also looking to avenge last season's defeat to the same Rangers side in the Western Conference Final.
Stapled to the scoresheet
Marco Bustos continues to have himself a promising USL season, now with five goals in five appearances for Rich Fagan’s side. The Winnipeg native has been clinical when called upon, converting on 45% of his shots, better than any other player on the squad with more than 10 attempts.
Some may point to his penalty kick goals, but ask the Portuguese national team about the difficulty of converting PKs in the recent Confederations Cup.
Thomas Sanner follows Bustos on the team's scoring leader board with four tallies of his own. Last Saturday, he added to his growing resume by drawing the PK that Bustos converted, then finding the net himself off a Deklan Wynne assist.
Canadians Ben McKendry and Marco Bustos are creating a leadership tandem as players who have graduated through the Residency program, USL ranks, and onto the first team. Gaining valuable minutes with WFC2 has not only enabled both players to refine their games, but also demonstrate to their younger teammates what it takes to get to the next level of the pyramid.
Their leadership has translated on the pitch with Bustos leading the club in goals, and McKendry topping all players with 20 shots, and 15 created chances.
In the back, Francis de Vries and Christian Dean may be called upon once again to clog to the Swope Park attack. The two centre backs recently returned from injury and are rounding back into form.
As mentioned, Swope Park Rangers come into Wednesday's match red hot. They are unbeaten in seven matches while winning their last four outings, including a resounding 4-0 win over Rio Grande Valley last weekend.
What remains impressive is the finishing ability of Swope Park. In their current unbeaten streak, they have tallied 14 goals while only conceding five. This will pose a strong test for the WFC2 backline, who must shut the door to give the offence a chance.
Canadian Mark Gonzalez (five goals) and Nigerian Nansel Selbol (three goals, one assist) lead the Swope Park Rangers attack. First-team goalkeeper Adrián Zendejas and 2017 MLS SuperDraft selection David Greczek split netminding duties.