Atlanta United didn’t really get to enjoy its win against Orlando City SC for long. After a Monday training session, it was off to the airport for a cross-continent flight to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps for the first and only time this season. Vancouver defeated Atlanta 3-1 in 2017 while Atlanta leveled the all-time series 4-1 last year against a 10-man Whitecaps squad, a match that produced a meme-worthy reaction from Kendall Waston after his 13th-minute red card.
What about this year’s Whitecaps? To get some insight, I had a chance to connect with Bryce over at our sister site, Eighty Six Forever.
The Whitecaps are a point outside the playoff picture, and even though they’re unbeaten in their last three matches, like Atlanta, they haven’t scored a lot. Who does Vancouver need to turn to if it’s to make that push into the top 7?
The Whitecaps need to get some production from their wingers. Last season, the Caps received a lot of offensive output from Cristian Techera and Alphonso Davies. Their replacements Lucas Venuto and Lass Bangoura have been minor disappointments so far this season. With Yordy Reyna sidelined for the next little while, someone besides Montero will need to score.
Fredy Montero had a goal against the Timbers in a win on Saturday. How important is he to this club here in his second season in Vancouver?
It is no surprise that Montero’s recent form has coincided with Whitecaps victories. He is a key cog to this club. However, I suspect that Marc dos Santos would prefer that not to be the case. Fredy is not the long-term solution and should be seen as a transition player to MDS’s eventual #9 preference.
Who are a few under-the-radar players that Atlanta need to keep tabs on if it’s to leave with a win?
Inbeom Hwang has not been too impressive lately, but I suspect that is more up to his travel back and forth from Korea for international duty, and adjusting to the culture and travel in North America. If you watch Montero’s goal against the Timbers, though, you will see what Hwang can do with his passing.
Left back Ali Adnan is another to watch out for. While he can be faulted for his lazy defending, he is probably the most skilled left back in the league, and I am not saying that through rose-colored glasses. As I said, though, he seems to struggle with tracking back and probably has a SLIGHTLY too big ego.
While they seem like a weird choice, center backs Doneil Henry and Erik Godoy could have a big impact on the match. Godoy seems to rarely make mistakes and is in the right place at the right time. Henry has taken a strong leadership role with Kendall Waston’s departure and has really stepped up his game. He is bruising and has frustrated opponents into taking foolish yellow and red cards. Just have a look at this BEAUTIFUL tackle on Valeri in their last match.
Both Godoy and Henry can be punishing on defense, but have also scored a few goals this season.