MLS Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes

Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes 

Venue: BC Place – Sunday, July 26 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Vancouver Whitecaps 8/11 – Draw 13/5 – San Jose Earthquakes 15/4

Match Preview

Sunday night sees Vancouver Whitecaps host San Jose Earthquakes in the middle of a hectic schedule of stateside soccer.

With top European sides touring the nation for preseason friendlies and the All-Star game less than a week away, Major League Soccer is very much in the spotlight. Vancouver won’t be thinking about any of that though as they look to keep their Western Conference title ambitions alive.

It will be important to note that MLS All-Star David Ousted has been a key part of their success so far, and a clean sheet come the end of play on Sunday is strong possibility. The home fans will expect three points and will want to see that three-game winless run end in this one.

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Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2015 record in MLS: P21 – W10 – D3 – L8

San Jose are missing Chris Wondolowski hugely as the striker is still away with the USMNT. Quincy Amarikwa has been brought in from Chicago to replace ‘Wondo’ and he did net twice in last week’s game.

But despite a great start to the LA Galaxy in the California Clasico last Friday, Chicago were left bitterly disappointed with that 5-2 loss to their arch rivals and will hope to pick back up here.

San Jose Earthquakes’ 2015 record in MLS: P17 – W7 – D4 – L8

We have passed the halfway point of the season and San Jose will want to push strong for a playoff berth as the end of the regular season draws nearer with each passing week.

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While Vancouver will be looking to regain top spot in the Western with a win as they are just two points behind FC Dallas in first place going into the weekend.

Team News

Vancouver Whitecaps are without Sam Adekugbe as he is still suffering with an ankle injury. Pedro Morales and Pa Modou Kah remain doubtful. Jordan Harvey is suspended, while Kendall Waston and Darren Mattocks are away on international duty.

San Jose Earthquakes are still without Designated Player Innocent Emeghara through injury as well as Steven Lenhart. Mike Fucito is a doubt with a hamstring injury. Cordell Cato and Chris Wondolowski are away on international duty.

Key Points

Vancouver Whitecaps’ last five: W/W/L/L/D

San Jose Earthquakes’ last five: W/W/L/L/L

Key Stat: San Jose have yet to register a win when playing Vancouver away from home.

Key Player: Octavio Rivero – Only one goal in his last ten appearances isn’t the most threatening of records but Rivero has shown promise thus far, and we expect him to be the difference on Sunday night.

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Score Prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes – Vancouver may be in a dip of form, but you can still expect them to win comfortably against an out-of-shape San Jose side in this one.

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STATS: Who is the most prolific striker in MLS?

With the 2015 MLS season well underway, it’s a great time to look at the top goalscorers in the league and just how prolific they really are.

Using statistics from Squawka, we take a look at the strikers who have scored five or more goals so far this term, and how their conversion rates compare:

Striker Goals Scored Total Shots Conversion Rate (%)
Clint Dempsey 7 18 39
Kei Kamara 7 43 16
Obafemi Martins 6 16 38
Octavio Rivero 6 43 14
Chris Wondolowski 6 34 18
Giles Barnes 6 38 16
Bradley Wright-Phillips 5 31 16
Jozy Altidore 5 16 31
Blas Perez 5 13 38

According to the statistics above, Clint Dempsey is the most prolific striker out of the pack as he has a conversion rate 39%.

There is a clear advantage with the Seattle Sounders going forward as both their forwards register conversion rates over 35% – further proof that Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey are an incredible strike force.

However, notice must be taken of how prolific Blas Perez has been for FC Dallas (38% conversion rate) as has Jozy Altidore on his return to MLS (31% conversion rate).

Who do you think has been the best striker in MLS this season?

MLS Fantasy Tips: Gameweek 12 ins and outs

It was a hectic weekend in Major League Soccer, in which Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union and Orlando City all produced surprise results by beating some of the league’s biggest sides, throwing MLS Fantasy owners into potential chaos ahead of Week 12.

The next gameweek starts on Wednesday night as Sporting Kansas City take on New England Revolution so we take a look at the fantasy picks that should be brought in and the players that should be taken out for the upcoming gameweek.

Ins

Brek Shea (Defender) Orlando City SC: $7.9m – If you don’t already have the USMNT star in your team, he’s worth putting in ASAP. At $7.9m he is expensive for a defender, but he is currently playing on the left flank because Kevin Molino is out for the season. Even if he earns you $0.5m over the next few weeks, you can dump him and make profit.

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Dom Dwyer (Forward) Sporting Kansas City: $10.6m – With Obafemi Martins a doubt, owners of the Nigerian may want to put in Dwyer for the week as SKC play twice; at home to New England Revolution and away to Seattle Sounders, and he is overdue a scoring run with only three goals so far in 2015.

Outs

Hernan Grana (Defender) Columbus Crew: $6.6m – If you haven’t already read about his departure, Grana needs to go. His contract with Columbus has been cancelled and the defender has moved back to Argentina so take him out.

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Octavio Rivero (Forward) Vancouver Whitecaps: $9.0m – The Uruguayan striker has had a poor recent run of form with only one goal in his last six. After starting the season in stellar form with five in his first six he has fallen out of form and it may be time to cash in on the Whitecaps man.

What changes will you be making for Gameweek 12 in MLS Fantasy?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders

Venue: BC Place – Saturday, May 16th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Vancouver 11/8 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle 19/10

Match Preview

Vancouver Whitecaps host Seattle Sounders in a huge Cascadia Cup game in MLS on Saturday night in the first of the three meetings between the Western Conference rivals this season.

Vancouver have already played two of their six Cascadia Cup games against the Portland Timbers, winning at home before drawing away and look to be in good shape at the top of the Western after 11 games.

Seattle have only played one Cascadia game so far as they beat Portland 1-0 at home and they will hope to move into pole position in the chase for the Cascadia Cup with a win over the Whitecaps this weekend.

That won’t be easy as Vancouver have not conceded a goal in their last two, beating Philadelphia Union last weekend 3-0 to calm any fears of a lapse after a slight dip. They started the season with four wins from their opening five but then only picked up one win in five before last weekend’s victory.

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They have been inconsistent but look in good shape heading into this clash. The Whitecaps have won the Cascadia Cup series the past two seasons and will expect to do so again this year as a result.

Seattle Sounders come into the game off the back of a 3-2 defeat in Columbus last weekend and they have not won in Vancouver for four years, so this is by no means a straightforward task for either side.

Seattle had won three in a row before last week’s loss and will look to recapture that form here. If Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are at their best, it will be almost impossible to stop them. The attacking duo are probably the most lethal in MLS and have 13 of the team’s 15 goals this season.

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The Whitecaps have their own attacking duo to unleash in the form of Pedro Morales and Octavio Rivero. The South American attackers have scored eight of Vancouver’s 14 goals this term.

Last season saw the Whitecaps go unbeaten against the Sounders, winning two games 1-0 and drawing the other 2-2. There are usually goals between these two and this has all the makings to be the game of the weekend.

Team News

Vancouver boss Carl Robinson has five injury worries heading into the game as Andre Lewis and Marco Bustos are both out, while Diego Rodriguez, Steven Beitashour and Mauro Rosales are all doubtful. Sam Adekugbe and Pa Modou Kah are one booking away from suspension and need to be careful. Darren Mattocks came off the bench to score his third of the season last week and will be pushing for a start here.

Seattle Sounders have no injury worries or suspensions to deal with and are at full strength. Sigi Schmid is likely to make changes after last week’s loss and Lamar Neagle could come in for Andy Rose. Dempsey and Martins will partner each other in attack.

Key Points

Vancouver Whitecaps’ last five: L/W/L/D/W

Seattle Sounders’ last five: L/W/W/W/L

Key Stat: The Whitecaps have not lost to Seattle in their last five meetings, winning four of those games.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The Sounders’ hopes rest on Dempsey’s shoulders. The attacker has been phenomenal this year and has an MLS-leading seven goals so far with four more assists. Expect him to cause trouble for the Vancouver defence.

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Score Prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Seattle Sounders – Expect this one to have goals. Both sides boast some of the best attacking players in MLS but both team will not want to lose this. A draw is a likely outcome and the 2-2 draw from BC Place last season could well be repeated.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Philadelphia Union

Venue: BC Place – Saturday, May 9th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Vancouver 7/10 – Draw 11/4 – Philadelphia 15/4

Match Preview

Vancouver Whitecaps host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night in what looks like it could be a routine win for the Canadian side as they have started the season the better of the two.

The Whitecaps currently lie second in the Western Conference and had they not endured a recent drop in form, they would be top of the Supporters’ Shield standings.

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Much of their early season charge has been down to the form of star striker Octavio Rivero but his run has dried up. They will need him on top form to pick up three points here.

Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2015 MLS record: P10 – W5 – D2 – L3

Philadelphia have had a dreadful start to 2015 and it just doesn’t seem to be working for Jim Curtin’s men.

Having lost their last three, and with only one win all season, they need a drastic improvement if they want to challenge for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

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It will be a tough ask for them to win here as they have the worst defensive record in MLS, having conceded 18 so far.

Philadelphia Union’s 2015 MLS record: P10 – W1 – D3 – L6

Team News

Vancouver will be without Andre Lewis and Marco Bustos who are both out. Diego Rodriguez and Steve Beitashour are both doubts but the latter is expected to start at right-back.

Philadelphia are without Andre Birch, John McCarthy, Michael Lahoud and Antoine Hoppenot for the trip to Canada. Eric Bird, Vincent Nogueira and Steven Vitoria are all doubts as well.

Key Points

Vancouver Whitecaps’ last five: D/L/W/L/D

Philadelphia Union’s last five: W/D/L/L/L

Key Stat: There has only been one away win in this fixture and that came in July 2013 when Philadelphia won 1-0 in Vancouver.

Key Player: Octavio Rivero – Designated Player Rivero has made a sensational start to life in MLS and could prove the difference once again as he looks to find his goalscoring form once again.

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Score Prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 Philadelphia Union – The Whitecaps to ease to victory against a Union side struggling for form and results. Vancouver haven’t been great in recent weeks but should be far too strong for their opponents this week.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. DC United 

Venue: BC Place – Saturday, April 25th – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST)

Match Odds: Vancouver Whitecaps 8/11 – Draw 5/2 – DC United 4/1

Match Preview

Vancouver Whitecaps welcome DC United to BC Place on Saturday evening as they look to remain top of the Western Conference against a DC side sitting in second in the Eastern Conference.

The Whitecaps have had an impressive start to the season, winning five of eight games, but Carl Robinson will know his side will be hard pushed for a win in this one.

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Robinson’s side got back to winning ways last weekend with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake and he will be hoping Octavio Rivero will end his two-game goalless run after starting the season so well, with five goals in six games.

Ben Olsen’s DC have drawn back-to-back games and fallen off the pace a little. They are joint top of the Eastern Conference with the Red Bulls, second only on goal difference, but have played one game more than their rivals.

Goals look like they could be a tough thing to come by from this DC United forward line, as Chris Rolfe and Jairo Arrieta have netted just one each so far and the return of Fabian Espindola from suspension is a huge boost for last year’s Eastern Conference winners.

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DCU would have expected to win last weekend against Houston Dynamo and will be disappointed they couldn’t hold out at home to Owen Coyle’s side after taking the lead.

This is going to be a hard-fought game and if either side can come away with all three points it will be a great result.

Team News

Vancouver Whitecaps have three injury concerns as Andre Lewis, Marco Bustos and Diego Rodriguez could all be sidelined, while Kendall Watson is just one yellow card away from a suspension after racking up four cautions already.

DC United have four sidelined as Markus Halsti, Eddie Johnson, Steve Birnbaum and Collin Martin are all struggling with injuries. Olsen knows his side will be in for a difficult tie, playing against a Whitecaps side who are the joint top-scorers so far this campaign.

Key Points

Vancouver Whitecaps’ last five: W/W/D/L/W

DC United’s last five: L/W/W/D/D

Key Stat: Octavio Rivero has scored just one goal less than the whole of the DC United side combined this season.

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Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Vancouver playmaker has three assists so far this campaign and his range of passing can unlock even the toughest of defences. If DCU can stop him getting on the ball they have a good chance here.

Score Prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 DC United – The Whitecaps have what it takes to edge this one and home advantage will play a part as they are likely to remain top of the Western Conference and MLS Supporters Shield standings after eight weeks.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, April 18th – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 21/20 – Draw 12/5 – Vancouver Whitecaps 5/2

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake welcome high flying Vancouver Whitecaps to Rio Tinto Stadium this Saturday evening in what is one of the standout fixtures of the weekend.

RSL are still unbeaten so far this campaign, winning two and drawing three, but they will have to be at their best to keep that run going against the Whitecaps this weekend.

Vancouver’s start to the season has been brilliant but they have already lost twice, including in their outing, and that will encourage Jeff Cassar and his side.

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The ‘Caps lost at San Jose last weekend while Salt Lake drew at Sporting Kansas City, so both sides will be looking to get back to winning ways on Saturday night.

Real Salt Lake will be hoping key man Javier Morales can influence a win this weekend, as he has scored two so far this campaign and been the standout player in the squad after six weeks.

RSL are certainly missing striker Joao Plata in his absence through injury as they have registered just one goal from their forwards, but are coping well and the team will only get stronger when he returns.

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Alvaro Saborio needs to start getting amongst the goals on a more regular basis but things are certainly looking promising for the team.

The Whitecaps will be looking to provide Octavio Rivero with as many chances as possible. The Uruguayan forward has five goals in seven games and is largely to thank for their position at the top of the Western Conference.

Team News

Real Salt Lake have five injury concerns. Joao Plata will continue to be unavailable for some time, while Sebastian Jaime, Demar Phillips, Justen Glad and Pecka could all be set to sit this one out.

Vancouver Whitecaps also have five concerns as Andre Lewis, Marco Bustos, Mauro Rosales, Gershon Koffie and Diego Rodriguez are all struggling with injuries. They will also be without playmaker Pedro Morales who is suspended.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s form: D/D/W/W/D

Vancouver Whitecaps form: W/W/W/D/L

Key Stat: Unbeaten – RSL are one of only two unbeaten sides in MLS this season but this will be their toughest challenge yet.

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Key Player: Octavio Rivero – Rivero has arguably been the league’s most impressive player so far this season, and it will be interesting to see how RSL set up to stop him.

Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps – Real Salt Lake to keep their unbeaten run going in a tough fixture. With both sides coming into the game without a win last weekend it is difficult to separate the two, though Vancouver need to make sure they can cope without Pedro Morales to get anything from the game.

MLS Preview and Prediction: San Jose Earthquakes vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Competition: Major League Soccer – San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps 

Venue: Avaya Stadium – Saturday, April 11th – 10:30 ET (03:30 BST)

Match Odds: San Jose Earthquakes 7/5 – Draw 12/5 – Vancouver Whitecaps 9/5

Match Preview

San Jose Earthquakes welcome Western Conference leaders, Vancouver Whitecaps, to Avaya Stadium this Saturday.

The Quakes have lost their last two after back-to-back wins and are sitting seventh in the Western Conference after five weeks of play.

Their 1-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake last weekend was a disappointing result but not a lot can be done to avoid conceding a goal like Javier Morales’ strike, so Quakes can feel a little hard-done by, especially as they showed promise for much of the game.

The Whitecaps’ four-game win streak came to an end on Wednesday night with their 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew. After losing their first of the season, Carl Robinson has been getting it right and his side are now leading the way in the Supporters’ Shield standings after going unbeaten in five.

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Vancouver’s impressive run is being helped no end by the scintillating form of forward Octavio Rivero, who has five in six and tops the MLS scoring charts early on this season.

For the Quakes, Chris Wondolowski has enjoyed a good start to the season too and has netted three in five. His partnership with Innocent Emeghara could prove to be a hit this campaign, though the two will not feature together this weekend as Emeghara is suspended.

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The last two meetings between these two in San Jose have ended 0-0 so we are hoping for a bit more entertainment in their first clash at Avaya Stadium.

Team News

San Jose Earthquakes are littered with injuries at the moment as Mark Sherrod, Steven Lenhart, Jordan Stewart, Paulo Renato, Marvell Wynne and Shaun Francis are expected to miss out. They will also be without Innocent Emeghara as he is suspended for one game so Dominic Kinnear has his options limited.

Vancouver Whitecaps are set to be without three as Andre Lewis, Mauro Rosales and Marco Bustos are set to miss out. Gershon Koffie is battling a knee injury but should be fit to play. We could see some changes from Carl Robinson after his side played on Wednesday night and he could be looking to keep things fresh with squad rotation. Kekuta Manneh started that game on the bench but should start in this one.

Key Points

San Jose Earthquakes’ form: L/W/W/L/L

Vancouver Whitecaps’ form: W/W/W/W/D

Key Stat: Unbeaten – The Whitecaps haven’t lost to the Quakes since 2012 and given their form, it’s hard to see past that run continuing.

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Key Player: Octavio Rivero – If the service is as good as it has been all season we could see Rivero continue his remarkable scoring run.

Score Prediction

San Jose Earthquakes 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps – The Quakes have suffered two losses on the bounce and given how good the Whitecaps have been, they should still be top of the Western Conference after the weekend.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Columbus Crew: Five takeaways

Vancouver Whitecaps and Columbus Crew got Week 6’s action underway with the first midweek clash of the new MLS season on Wednesday night in a highly entertaining game that ended 2-2 at BC Place.

The Whitecaps came into the game on a win streak of four but had to settle for a valuable point after coming from behind twice to earn a share of the spoils.

Kei Kamara grabbed both of the Crew’s goals, with Octavio Rivero netting again for the Whitecaps and Darren Mattocks netting the all-important second equaliser.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

1. Mattocks makes his mark

Carl Robinson decided the time was right to start Jamaican international Darren Mattocks on Wednesday, as the pacey forward started on the left in place of Kekuta Manneh, and he didn’t disappoint. Mattocks grabbed a goal and an assist and was named as Man of the Match in his first start of the year. He was full of energy and contributed to the defensive side of the game as well as attacking, and improved dramatically when Manneh entered the game on 56 minutes. He could have had a hat-trick on the night as he recorded seven shots, one of which cannoned off the post with the game level at 2-2. Vancouver’s forward line looks strong.

2. Columbus will be O-Kei

Kei Kamara in action for the Columbus Crew against Vancouver Whitecaps

Columbus Crew have had a less than convincing start to the 2015 season, winning just one of their opening four games but Wednesday night’s performance against the best side in MLS right now will leave Gregg Berhalter pleased. Federico Higuain missed the game through suspension but Kei Kamara didn’t suffer without the playmaker as he netted both of the Crew’s goals. Kamara now has three in four and looks sharp in and around goal. Expect the Crew to start climbing the Eastern Conference now.

3. Role reversals

Coming into this game, the Crew were the top side in MLS in terms of average possession per game, while the Whitecaps were the worst, seeing less of the ball than anyone else after five weeks. But that all changed on Wednesday as the ‘Caps dominated the game for large spells. Vancouver had 62% of the possession and showed a more controlling side to their game, while the Crew proved they can be just as effective as a counter-attacking side. These teams are two of the more exciting in MLS and proved they can play more than one way to good effect on Wednesday night.

4. Shall we just give Rivero the Golden Boot now?

Octavio Rivero in action for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Columbus Crew

Octavio Rivero added his fifth goal of the season against the Crew to keep him at the top of the goalscoring charts at this early stage and the Uruguayan forward looks unstoppable in and around goal. He picked up the March Player of the Month award in his first month in MLS and has recorded more shots, and shots on goal than any other player in the league. The Whitecaps are playing well and Rivero is looking like an incredible piece of business as he can’t stop finding the net. Expect him to continue his goalscoring form when the Whitecaps travel to San Jose on Saturday.

5. Is this the turning point for entertainment in MLS this season?

The 2015 season hasn’t hit full flow yet as there have been several cagey displays by teams and nowhere near enough goals (we’re looking at you Colorado) but that changed on Wednesday. The ‘Caps and Crew played out one of the best games of the season so far at BC Place as there were a combined 37 shots on goal at either end. Both teams attacked from the outset and that lead to a free-flowing, entertaining game that we usually see more of across the league. This was a hopefully a sign of things to come as Week 6 got off to a fun start. Bring on the weekend!

Analysis: Vancouver Whitecaps’ approach is aggressive but effective

The Vancouver Whitecaps currently sit at the top of the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings after five weeks of the regular season and their aggressive approach is working to great effect so far.

Saturday night’s 2-0 win against reigning champions, LA Galaxy, was their fourth in a row and that opening weekend defeat to Toronto seems like a long time ago already.

Carl Robinson has watched his side concede just one goal since the loss against their Canadian rivals and the Whitecaps have now scored seven in five – the tied most in MLS.

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Their attacking play has been good. Not great yet, but the signs are there that if everything clicks, the Whitecaps could be a dominant force.

Pedro Morales is the playmaker and makes everything tick. He already has the tied-most assists in MLS with three in five matches and is averaging two key passes per game.

In front of Morales is fellow Designated Player Octavio Rivero, who has already scored four in five and scooped the March Player of the Month award.

The South American pair have formed a good partnership early on in Vancouver colours and the duo are at the forefront of all the Whitecaps’ attacking play.

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Going forward, Vancouver play an aggressive, fast-paced game and look to hit teams on the counter attack. That is proved by their average possession statistic of 43.5% – the lowest in MLS after five weeks.

Despite seeing less of the ball than any other side, the Whitecaps have registered more shots on target (5.8) than any other team, proving that possession is not everything.

Vancouver Whitecaps statistics after five game

Vancouver Whitecaps’ team statistics after five games (stats via WhoScored.com)

Robinson deserves great credit for setting his team up in a system that keeps them solid at the back, but devastating on the counter.

It is an approach that could lead to low-scoring games as the Whitecaps will have to soak up pressure before attacking. But they have already scored three goals in the 86th minute or later to win matches against Chicago, Orlando and Portland.

Defensively, they have been good but that aggressive approach has seen them pick up more yellow cards (16) than any other side and they have made the second-highest number of fouls in MLS (80).

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The Vancouver Whitecaps have won four in a row for the first time ever as an MLS franchise and Saturday’s win against the LA Galaxy saw them put in their most complete performance this year.

They face Columbus Crew on Wednesday night at home, before a trip to San Jose to take on the Earthquakes next Saturday, so it will be interesting to see if they can keep up the aggression with two games in four days.

What have you made of the Vancouver Whitecaps so far this season? Do they deserve to be at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings?