Vancouver Whitecaps' ‘B-team’ to face L.A. Galaxy stars
At least five of Vancouver’s regular 11 will start on the sidelines in Los Angeles
VANCOUVER — Change, whether through necessity or a means of motivation, appears coming to the slumping Vancouver Whitecaps lineup this weekend.
Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie didn’t make any official proclamations about his starting 11 for Saturday’s match against the L.A. Galaxy (7 p.m. PDT, TSN 2, RDS 2, Team 1410) at the Home Depot Center, but, judging by Friday’s training session, at least five regular starters could be either unavailable or used in substitution roles.
“I think … people have sometimes read into our lineup by watching training and not being right, so we’ll wait and see what our lineup is tomorrow,” said Rennie. “But I’m expecting a good performance.”
Y.P. Lee, the 35-year-old defender who has played every minute for the Whitecaps this season, and striker Darren Mattocks, out after receiving a red card a week ago in Portland, are already confirmed unavailable.
Another notable change could come in goal. Rennie, again, didn’t say who — Joe Cannon or Brad Knighton — will be the starting goalkeeper against L.A.
“We always decide that on the Friday night, or the night before the game and we let the players know at that point,” he said.
Privy to insider information, Cannon admitted after training that he already knows who Rennie has chosen.
Cannon didn’t divulge any names, however his comments when asked about how he prepares for Saturday’s match not yet knowing who still start lend to the belief Rennie is leaning towards Knighton.
“If [Rennie] doesn’t want to tell you guys than I’m certainly not going to go above him,” said Cannon, who has allowed six goals against on 11 shots in the last three games and shouldered part of the blame for Saturday’s loss in Portland, after a long Franck Songo’o free kick from outside the box beat the 37-year-old veteran goalkeeper.
“But you just do the same stuff. Honestly, it’s not a big deal. It’s just a mistake. It happens, you know. One mistake in 26 games, you can look at some other, maybe, half errors but … I don’t know.
“It is what it is. I’m not reading too much into it. Obviously, right after it happens, in the next couple of days, you do a little soul searching, but now I’m great.”
Knighton has proven himself capable when afforded the opportunity to play.
Apart from his two victories over FC Edmonton in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship, Knighton had an impressive showing against Real Salt Lake, the second best team in the Western Conference, on Aug. 11, in his first regular season start.
He stopped five of six shots on goal, and, more importantly, earned the win.
“It may not always be on the field, but Brad knows how to fill in and he proved that against Salt Lake,” said Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit.
Adding to Rennie’s lineup decisions will be the status of midfielder Gershon Koffie, fresh off his one-game suspension, and defender Andy O’Brien.
Both were at training Friday, however both are nursing minor injuries.
“We’re still trying to figure that one out,” said Rennie. “They’re a little bit tight on muscle strains, so we’re just trying to make sure.”
The Whitecaps enter L.A. with three straight losses and two wins in their last 10 regular season games.
This recent slump has stranded the Vancouver club at 10 wins and 37 points, good for fifth and final playoff position in the Western Conference standings.
FC Dallas is now just five points back, and the combination of a Whitecaps loss and an FC Dallas win this weekend would close that gap to just two points.
“To be quite blunt, we’ve been very defensive going into games,” said Cannon.
“We’ve been on the back foot rather than the front foot and it’s kind of cost us. Some moments in games, we haven’t look like the better team … we need to score some goals. We need to go out on the front foot and create things. We can’t play defensive anymore.
“In the playoffs, you’ll see games and they’ll be very tight, teams won’t want to make mistakes, but in the regular season, you need to get those points, and we need to start looking at grabbing three points rather than just protecting one.”
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