The Vancouver Whitecaps maintained their hot form on Saturday with a win over LAFC. Here’s a look at the Caps’ form lately and what’s been working as they’ve jumped to the top of the MLS form rankings.
Sometimes it’s all about the result.
Of course, the process is just as important, but some nights are all about getting the job done.
And Saturday was one of those nights for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who have been in great form lately against an LAFC side that currently tops the MLS standings.
It was always a tough matchup, it was never going to be easy for the Caps but thanks to some luck they had some key factors in their favor as they settled on LA.
From the fact that they were rested while LA wasn’t, and the fact that they were playing at home and against a relatively exhausted team, there was no doubt that the Caps had entered a bit of a fortunate position in this game.
At the same time, none of this would mean anything if they didn’t use it, and they had to go out there and get a result, no matter how big the challenge.
Which, to their credit, they did by clinching a 1-0 win thanks to the boot of new signing Andrés Cubas, who opened his MLS account in style to ensure his team would leave with all three points .
It might not have been a classic home performance from the Caps, especially in the first half, but after a late push, they managed to earn the reward their efforts deserved, even if it probably wasn’t how they planned.
At the same time, it has been the caps lately. As of May 8, they have a record 6W-2N-2D (20 PTS), meaning they have accumulated the most points of any MLS team in that span, just ahead of Seattle Sounders (19) and CF Montreal ( 15).
Just 1 stat to end the night for #VWFC:
As of May 8, the ‘Caps have ranked 1st in MLS in points (20) and points per game (2.00), with a record of 6W-2N-2D over a 10-game span
Couple that with her promotion to the #CanChamp finals and it’s been a decent two months for her
— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) July 3, 2022
It hasn’t always been pretty as the Caps have the 5th lowest expected goals (xG) per game and are mid-table in terms of xG vs. and expected goal difference, but thanks to some timely goals, some defensive improvements and some good goalkeeping, they’ve done their job lately time done.
Especially at home, where they’ve lost just once this season, it’s been day and night for the Caps compared to early in the campaign where they had a record 1W-6U-1D (4 PTS) through their first eight games .
“I think it’s down to three things,” Caps head coach Vanni Sartini said afterwards. “First of all it’s the players, they believe in what we do when we push. Secondly a big thank you to our performance department, they don’t get mentioned too often, Jon Poli is our head of fitness prep and all the people he works with, not only the fitness staff but also the physios, they allow the player, right through to the end to always be in top shape.”
“And third, a shout out to the coaching staff, because by rotating and playing all the players, we always have one hundred percent ready.”
But this latest win is just the latest example of what has changed for these whitecaps lately.
Faced off against an LA side that deployed a somewhat redesigned 5-3-2 used both out of necessity and as a counter to the Caps’ free-flowing 3-5-2, LA came out with the intention of making the Slow down game and dominate the game in the middle of the park.
And during the first 45 their plan worked perfectly as they kept the caps extremely quiet, with two shots and 0.1 xG all hosts had to prove themselves through that first 45.
Then they broke things wide open. Through some clever subs, as well as a tactical switch from 3-5-2 to a 3-4-2-1, they began to wear LA down, amassing nine shots, including two on target, as they attempted to bat down the hatches.
While not all of them were of high quality as they were only 0.5 xG, the intent was certainly there, making Cubas’ goal a well-deserved goal in the end.
As a result, the Caps are allowed to continue their slow climb up the standings that hasn’t been easy but sees them ending this game for a playoff spot, just two points behind the top four in the West.
The approach might not be entirely conventional, but it’s about getting the job done, and that’s all that matters for now.
Despite scoring just seven of their 19 first-half goals this year, including just one first-half home goal, they always find a way to finish things late, even if some of the starts left a lot to be desired.
But after getting through the halfway point of this MLS season, they’re in pretty good shape overall and still have time to iron out the weaknesses that still haunt them at this point.
From the start they’ve had, that’s all they could wish for to set the table for a fun-filled summer, especially as the support around the team continues to grow.
As seen as more than 18,000 roared for the Cubas goal in unison, it’s a fun time to watch the Whitecaps right now, so they’ll look to continue those good times in what lies ahead later this year .
Photo credit: Beau Chevalier (IG: @shotby.beau Twitter: @beauchevalier_)