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Prekrap: Atlanta United at Vancouver Whitecaps - up past my bedtime

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Sleep is for plastics

MLS: Toronto FC at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Another game against Orlando, another win against Orlando. It wasn’t quite as easy as the 4-0 mauling last June, but the game still had everything. Dom Dwyer was as advertised as the Diego Costa but without the ability to score goals that he can be, Will Johnson screeched at the refs, someone sang the SpongeBob song from the capo stand, and Pity got his first goal. Good times.

Not quite great times though. Atlanta suffered from not having Ezequiel Barco and him being gone will be a challenge for the team. It’s only going to get more difficult in terms of absences soon. With the Gold Cup coming up perhaps Miles Robinson, Darlington Nagbe, and Brad Guzan may miss time (not to mention Romario Williams) and with the Copa America it seems like the team could be without Tito Villalba, Josef Martinez, and Pity Martinez. Obviously, the team needs to get as many points as possible before Frank de Boer isn’t so much rotating his squad as he is trying to stop the dam from being breached.

Without him the possession was less effective, chances more difficult to come by and rather than try to break the Orlando press, the team played long.

Here’s a preview for the game that I’m probably going to watch on replay because it starts after I go to sleep.

The Vancouver Thirteen to Twenty Two Million Dollarses

Last year Atlanta United exercised the demons of 2017 by beating the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1. The game was so bad for the Canadians that after the season they decided to punish Kendall Waston by trading him to Cincinnati. Last year wasn’t all bad for the Caps though. Despite their dedication to not keeping up with trends in the league and trying to buy good players, the team did stumble backwards into good fortune when Alphonso Davies made it look like they had an academy that could produce a potentially transcendent global talent.

He was transferred to Bayern Munich for $13-$22 million, money that the Caps used to invest in their team by turning over 21 players on their roster including bringing in Uruguay U-20 striker Joaquin Ardaiz, Argentine defender Erik Godoy, and Iraqi defender Ali Adnan on loan. Ardaiz hasn’t played much and Godoy has played every minute in defense helping the Caps lose 5 of 11 games this year and Adnan missed a penalty in his debut. They also brought in Hwang In-beom from the South Korea national team in midfield.

Thirteen to Twenty Two Million Dollars.

Their new manager Marc Dos Santos seems to have settled on the tactic of - try to pass it around a little bit and if that doesn’t work bypass the midfield and fling crosses toward Fredy Montero and see if something good happens. It usually doesn’t and more often than not their opponents turn the bad crosses into counter attacks.

Thirteen to Twenty Two Million Dollars.

Still, Vancouver has won three of their last four including a 1-0 midweek home win against LAFC and MLS Messi. Somewhere in there they did lose to Orlando so take that stretch of games with a plate of salt. With the expanded playoff format, Vancouver also stands to once again be able to miss the post-season and disappoint their fans until they remember that they’d rather watch hockey anyway. The team sits in 8th place and is just waiting to settle into 10th when Sporting Kansas City figures things out and Portland can play 17 home games in a row.

Thirteen to Twenty Two Million Dollars.

So, what will the Whitecaps do in this game to slow down Atlanta? Quite simply, Vancouver presents a number of tactical challenges for Atlanta United that they can use to their advantage in the match. The first is their geographic remoteness - Southern Alaska is really far from Atlanta, Frank de Boer and his men will have to traverse nearly 3,000 miles to get to BC Place. That includes a five hour plane ride followed by being interrogated by steely eyed customs officials that will stop at nothing to find out exactly what their plans are in regards to how they treat the local salmon population and what the team’s interest is in maple syrup speculation markets. Quite simply, it is an overwhelming home field advantage that makes it difficult for away teams to get their bearings and then have to figure out how they will somehow score against Maxime Crepeau.

Thirteen to Twenty Two Million Dollars.

But, if you’re interested, you too can play for the Whitecaps by applying to go on trial with the team. Good luck!

Thirteen to Twenty Two Million Dollars.

We got a little tired...

If there is one thing that is concerning heading into this game, it might be in something Pity Martinez said after beating Orlando, “The team was a little tired in the second half. We played a great first half. Created chances. Maybe we made the wrong decision on various occasion and weren’t able to convert but in the second half we got a little tired.” How will the team manage with a 10PM kick off if they were tired on Sunday afternoon?

Atlanta will again be tired against Vancouver - just traveling there will be exhausting, plus how will the team manage with a 10PM kick off if they were tired on Sunday afternoon? The players are pros and the trainers do a great job of keeping them healthy with things like cross-country flights, but it takes a toll. Frank de Boer noted that Darlington Nagbe and Michael Parkhurst will not travel for the game. Those are two key players who are key for Atlanta United keeping possession this season. It does mean that the Brek Shea redemption tour can make another stop as he seems to be the logical starter at left back. It might also mean that Julian Gressel starts more centrally for Nagbe perhaps with Justin Meram in his usual spot on the right. Then again, maybe Jeff Larentowicz plays a deeper midfield role, Eric Remedi moves higher up the field and Gressel stays on the wing.

However the team lines up, they will need to both make their opponents react to what they are doing in the game and adjust if things don’t go right. Against Orlando, the Five Stripes didn’t react well to the press and gave away a few chances because of bad mistakes. Atlanta won, but aside from the goal and the goal that was called back (thanks VAR, everyone knows soccer is a game of inches and all) the team wasn’t great at threatening the Orlando goal. Vancouver might be relying more on luck than talent at this point and it will be lucky for them that they’re playing a potentially tired Atlanta team.

I’ll be your huckleberry

Maybe Josef just needs to ride a pale horse, call himself Death and have Hades following close behind him.

There I did an obvious and hackneyed piece of symbolism, can I haz a show on HBO now?

There I did an obvious joke about a pop culture reference and bashed on the show that everyone hates now, can I haz a weekly blog post on a soccer website?

I’m trying

Really, I’m trying to feel good about this one. Atlanta is good and used their money from selling Miguel Almiron to buy another good player. Vancouver is bad and used their good player money to buy a right back who misses penalties for them. It lines up well for another win and that may very well happen, but Atlanta has some work to do in figuring out how to play without Barco and not a lot of time to do it. In any event, this one starts past my bedtime these days so I’ll find out what happens on Thursday.