Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Columbus Crew
Venue: BC Place – Wednesday, April 8th – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)
Match Odds: Vancouver 19/20 – Draw 5/2 – Columbus 14/5
Vancouver currently sit at the top of the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings after five weeks, with Saturday’s impressive 2-0 win against LA Galaxy making it four straight wins for the first time in the club’s short MLS history.
Octavio Rivero netted his fourth in five games in that win and the Uruguayan striker, who scooped the March Player of the Month award, is leading the MLS Golden Boot standing at this early stage.
The Whitecaps look to be on a fine run and it’s going to take a huge effort from the Crew to walk out of Canada with a win on Wednesday.
One thing in Columbus’ favour is the fact that they’re coming off their second bye of the season and should be in good shape for this one, whereas the ‘Caps will have had just four days rest.
The Crew have only won one of their opening three games and have suffered two losses, including last time out at the Red Bulls.
Things haven’t quite clicked yet but a win against the side with the most points in Major League Soccer would be a real boost for Gregg Berhalter’s men.
Recent history favours the home side though as the Whitecaps have won the last three meetings between the two, after Columbus won the first two fixtures in Vancouver’s inaugural season.
Last year’s meeting ended 1-0 to Vancouver in Columbus and this will be the first clash between the two at BC Place since 2013, when the ‘Caps sealed a 2-1 win.
Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson has three injury concerns that are set to miss out as Andre Lewis (knee), Mauro Rosales (ankle) and Marco Bustos (foot) are all injured. Gershon Koffie is a doubt with a knee sprain but should make the squad. Kekuta Manneh and Nicolas Mezquida should keep their places on the wings, with Rivero as the lone striker.
Columbus Crew are set to be without star man Federico Higuain as the Argentine playmaker serves his one-match suspension for the red card he picked up in the loss to the Red Bulls last time out. Romain Gall (knee) and Wil Trapp (calf) are also set to miss out again and so Tony Tchani and Mohammed Saeid will continue their midfield partnership, with Justin Meram set to return to the lineup following international duty with Iraq. Kei Kamara will start in attack.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ form: L/W/W/W/W
Columbus Crew’s form: L/W/L
Key Stat: Vancouver have recorded the lowest average possession stat in MLS this season with 43.5% while Columbus have recorded the highest (56%).
Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Chilean playmaker is always at the heart of everything Vancouver do going forwards and he already has three assists in five games this season. Expect him to be key.
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Columbus Crew – The Crew may have had a long rest for this one but they haven’t found their rhythm yet and face the Whitecaps at the worst possible time. Vancouver look strong and should follow up that victory against the Galaxy with another home win.