For some people the big soccer story in Vancouver at the moment is the non-arrival of David Beckham (closely followed by the possible non-arrival of Landon Donovan) but for the Whitecaps players, management and regular supporters the big story will be how the team perform in their next two games at Empire Field.
The absence of a couple of the biggest names in MLS might be a marketing nightmare but it means that a visiting team that is unbeaten in fourteen games, and has only lost twice all season, will be severely weakened.
Also playing to the Whitecaps advantage is the fact that LA are currently in the middle of a very tough schedule with Portland and Dallas to follow in quick succession after their visit to Vancouver, and the chances are that manager Bruce Arena will feel the need to juggle his squad no matter what the injury situation.
Conversely (and we haven’t been able to say this very often this season) the Whitecaps are well rested and are also coming off a good performance at San Jose. If they can take solace from that performance and have the confidence to attack the Galaxy from the off then the expected large crowd at Empire Field will undoubtedly get behind them and could even get to see something more rewarding than a fleeting glimpse of a fading fashion icon; they may get to see the Whitecaps win.
The following game is against the struggling Chicago Fire who haven’t won in six games and only have one win on the road all year. In fact the Whitecaps earned their first away point in MLS when the two sides met in Chicago earlier in the season.
The Fire have just announced the signing of Pavel Pardo a 35 year old former Mexican international midfielder; a move that seems designed to sell tickets rather than solve any long term issues at the club and this really is the kind of game that the Whitecaps need to prove that they can win.
Four points from these two matches wouldn’t be a disaster, but the full six points could potentially change the whole mood of the season for the better.
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