Vancouver Whitecaps vs. DC United: Predicting Vancouver's Starting Lineup
Head coach Tommy Soehn gambled on youth against Real Salt Lake last week, starting rarely used youngsters Long Tan, Nizar Khalfan, Jeb Brovsky and newcomer Carlyle Mitchell. The plan paid off as the Whitecaps recorded an energetic and commanding win over RSL.
Will Soehn stick with last week's lineup? Or will he give some returning veterans an opportunity to regain their starting places?
Goalkeeper: Joe Cannon
A clean sheet against RSL virtually guarantees the Joe Cannon a start against DC United.
After early season competition with Jay Nolly, the veteran shot-stopper has quietly put together a solid string of performances. Even when on the losing side of the scoreline, Cannon has done everything he could to keep the Whitecaps in the game, pulling off save after save and marshaling the backline with authority.
I don't know how much the 36-year-old keeper has left in the tank, but Vancouver's goal looks to be in safe hands for the remainder of the season.
Right-Back: Jeb Brovsky
It's been an interesting season for young Jeb Brovsky, to say the least.
The 23-year-old Colorado native began the season as a midfielder under former coach Teitur Thordarson. But midseason defensive problems, including multiple injuries and suspensions, ravaged the Whitecaps' backline, prompting Soehn to blood Brovsky in the right-back position.
It hasn't always gone well, which is understandable considering Brovsky has to learn an unfamiliar position in his first year on the team. Nevertheless, despite some defensive shortcomings, Brovsky has improved, and the game against RSL showed that he has become at least competent in the position.
With incumbent right-back Jonathan Leathers doubtful due to a hamstring injury, Brovsky will have to maintain consistency against a much stronger DC United squad.
Centre-Back: Jay DeMerit
When healthy, Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit is the strongest defender in the squad. He has had the odd off game, but on the balance of the season, he has been a consistently potent force in the backline and an excellent leader of the team.
Starting alongside Carlyle Mitchell against RSL seems to have sparked a rejuvenation in DeMerit, and he put in one of his best performances last week. Look for him to continue to sparkle against DC United.
Centre-Back: Carlyle Mitchell
It may be a bit to early to judge the long-term value of Carlyle Mitchell, but the 24-year-old Trinidadian certainly made an impact in his debut against RSL.
With both DeMerit and Soehn waxing poetic about the young defender, it's a guarantee that he will start alongside the captain on Wednesday.
Left-Back: Alain Rochat
Perhaps the best thing about the Carlyle Mitchell deal is that it gave the Whitecaps the chance to play Alain Rochat in his favored position.
Rochat relished his opportunity and showed through an inspired game both offensively and defensively why he was considered one of the best left-backs in the league. Look for him to prowl the left side of the pitch again on Wednesday night.
Right-Midfield: Nizar Khalfan
For much of this season, the right side of midfield was Shea Salinas' playground. But one goal-of-the-week nominated strike by the almost forgotten Tanzanian winger showed that Nizar Khalfan could still be a force for the Whitecaps next year.
Soehn would be well advised to keep the youngster's momentum going until the end of the season to see what the team can get out of him.
Centre-Midfield: Gershon Koffie
The discussion for who is the Whitecaps' most consistently solid midfielder begins and ends with Gershon Koffie. At only 19 years of age, the Ghanian has shown remarkable poise and maturity all season, and his presence in the centre of the pitch is a given.
Centre-Midfield: John Thorrington
It's been a turbulent season for John Thorrington. After missing most of the year because of an injury, the veteran midfielder came back to find himself shuffled all over the midfield and even played at right-back once. It's no surprise that he's struggled to find consistency since his return.
Yet, last week's performance against RSL showed that Thorrington still has something to contribute. Disciplined but not flashy, Thorrington displayed enough tactical awareness, passing ability and understanding with Gershon Koffie to warrant another start against DC United.
Right-Midfield: Davide Chiumiento
Last week's match against RSL must have been a sobering one for Davide Chiumiento.
After a relatively poor showing against Portland the game before, the Swiss-Italian playmaker was consigned to the bench. From there, he had to sit and watch as the youngsters who took his place ran RSL ragged and had to wonder whether he would get a chance in the next match.
I think he will. Chiumiento is the Whitecaps' assists leader, with nine to his name, and when he's on his game he connects well with strikers Eric Hassli and Camilo Sanvezzo. Look for him to prove a point if Soehn starts him against a DC United squad that is admittedly stronger than last week's depleted RSL side.
Striker: Eric Hassli
By all accounts, Chinese striker Long Tan played well enough to earn a start against DC United. Unfortunately for Tan, the Whitecaps' first designated player is back from suspension, and it's highly doubtful that coach Tommy Soehn will keep him on the bench.
When he's on form, the big Frenchman is capable of being the best striker in the league. Second on the Whitecaps' goalscoring list behind Camilo Sanvezzo, Eric Hassli remains a potent force up front for the team.
Striker: Camilo Sanvezzo
Camilo Sanvezzo was the best player on the pitch against RSL. "The Magician" notched two goals to take his tally for the season to 11, which leads the team. There is no way Soehn is leaving him on the bench.
So there you have it.
Last week's victory was a confidence-boosting one, but the team will be well aware that RSL was severely depleted by injuries and call-ups. Wednesday's match against DC United will prove to be a much sterner test, and this is the lineup that I think Soehn will send out for it.
If the Whitecaps are to end the season on a high, they would do well to win this next game and carry on that momentum until the end.