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Pick made on 08/18/2022 at 06:32 PM EST
This match promises to be a tight mid-table Western Conference matchup between two teams who’ve got a decent number of points on board. They both look good enough for playoff spots but have struggled all season to go on a real consistent run.
They head into this game in patchy form and there isn’t much separating them as far head-to-heads go either. Vancouver Whitecaps have won 13 of the 29 compared to Real Salt Lake’s 11. Five of these two teams’ matches have ended in draws. The Whitecaps have also won the last two encounters, which should give them belief heading into this match because it’s a must-not-lose game for them but it’s hard to separate these sides. A draw seems most likely.
Vancouver Whitecaps, as mentioned in the previous section, came out on top in the last meeting between these two sides with a 2-1 win back in June. This was to sit back and hit on the break performance, with the Whitecaps having just 38 percent of the possession. It’s a risky tactic but worked for the side on the day because they got the first goal in the 31st minute thanks to a strike from Ranko Veselinovic.
Real Salt lake got one back in the 52nd minute thanks to Justin Meram before Ryan Gauld scored in added time to get the Whitecaps all three points.
Real Salt Lake’s 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders gave them some breathing room in the Western Conference standings. There’s now a four point gap between themselves and the chasing pack but the games won’t stop coming and they’ve got to make sure they hold onto their position.
Andrew Brody’s 64th minute winner was the difference in the last match and Real Salt Lake did well to hold on. This was their first away win against a Western Conference side as well, which was another positive from this game,
Real Salt Lake could consider themselves a little fortunate to be in the position they are in. They’ve only scored 33 goals and their expected goal numbers don’t suggest that they should’ve got more either with a value of 33.9.
Sergio Corodova has been their top scorer with six goals, which asks a lot of their defenders in most games. Only one other team in the Western Conference has got a top scorer with less than seven goals.
Jefferson Savarino has got five for the club and Justin Meram is next in line with just three. For now, they’ve managed without a great goalscorer but it feels like a problem in the long run.
The defensive numbers aren’t outstanding either. They’ve conceded 34, which gives them a negative goal difference and once again, the expected goals against suggests that this is accurate at 34. Not many teams have their goals scored and goals conceded numbers so in sync with their underlying numbers. What you see is what you get with Real Salt Lake. It’s not surprising that they’re in the mid table but the points table shouldn’t convince them that they’re on the right track. They’ve been fortunate and can do a lot better.
Left back Zack Fransworth has been out since February with an unknown injury. Central midfielder Damir Kreilach has been out since April with a back injury and center-forward Bobby Wood has been out because of a tear in his abductor muscle since mid-June.
Ryan Gauld scored two first half goals to give the Whitecaps a priceless three points against the Colorado Rapids. They’re in 11th position with 30 points in the Western Conference but still have every chance to make it to the playoffs. They just need to go on a little run and take the positives from this victory into their next game. The team were a bit lucky against the Rapids, who dug their own grave with respect to the two goals that the Whitecaps scored but the Canadian side won’t care and will be hoping for more of the same against Real Salt Lake.
The most pleasing aspect of the Whitecaps’ performance last week would’ve been how they managed to hold onto the victory because their defense has been porous all year. They’ve conceded 44 goals so far and have one of the worst goal differences of -15 this season. They’ve only scored 29 league goals as well. Their underlying numbers don’t look great either with 30.1 expected goals and 36.7 expected goals against. It’s unlikely that they’ll make the playoffs but with most teams looking a bit patchy like themselves, they should take their chances when they come.
Unlike Real Salt Lake, Vancouver Whitecaps have got someone who can put the ball in the back of the net. The Canadian, Lucas Cavallini, has scored eight goals this season and that’s been the difference between the Whitecaps and the teams below them. It’s given them a fighting chance of making the playoffs. This isn’t a team that creates a lot of chances, so he’s had to almost come up with goals on his own. His expected goals value of 6.3 suggests that he’s scored most of what’s come his way.
He can’t do it on his own though. The likes of Ryan Gauld, who scored a brace in the last game to take his tally for the season to six goals, will have to help out as well.
Right winger Deiber Caicedo has been out with a knee problem since early July and left-back Luis Martins has also been out with calf injury since early June. Neither of them have got an expected return date.
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|Teams||Real Salt Lake vs Vancouver Whitecaps|
|Location||Rio Tinto Stadium|
|Time||Saturday, 20 August at 10pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||ESPN+, TSN4 and KMYU|
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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