If you were to take a look at the standings, a clash between the 6th place team in the East and the 8th place team in the West might not look very appealing.
But if I told you that New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps FC have more MLS points in their last 8 games than anyone but New York City FC, that might make things a whole lot more interesting.
The 2022 season so far has been a two-half story for New England and Vancouver, or I guess it might be more accurate to say a two-quarter first-half story, but I digress.
The Revs’ heavy congestion with their CCL obligations and early-season injuries have left them with a significant hole from which they have recovered despite the trio of top sales who have left the team so far this year. In their last eight games, New England are unbeaten with four wins and four draws, although the Revs have arguably lost some late leads that could have bolstered that record. While the team has certainly turned a corner from their poor start, they are still not at their level of winning the Shield from last year either.
Vancouver’s streak is equally impressive, going 5-1-2 and aside from a 4-0 pass to Seattle, they’ve played much better over the past two months. Lucas Cavallini and Ryan Gauld are having solid seasons worthy of their DP status and while the Caps aren’t over the playoff line yet in the West, they could be on the right track. Disastrous road form, however, would be on the list of issues that could prevent the Caps from playing in October.
So, after rather calamitous starts, New England and Vancouver find themselves tied with Cincy, Seattle and RSL taking sixteen of a possible twenty-four points in their last eight games. Just like we all thought at the start of the year, at least NYC being on twenty of twenty-four makes a lot more sense, and their numbers went down after a draw against the Rapids where they won seven of eight and tied the other game for a 22-point run in eight games.
The Revs are therefore far from out of the woods, but they are on the right track. There are still a number of issues to resolve on the pitch and adjusting to life without Adam Buksa in particular. Is this the day we see the revamped Revs attack led by Carles Gil, Dylan Borrero and Sebastian Lletget as an attacking trio in midfield with Gustavo Bou in the lead? We’ll have to wait until the league’s final drink at 8:00 p.m. Eastern / 5:00 p.m. Western to find out, as the Revs and Caps are the last game of the week.
This is a great opportunity to talk with our good friends from Eight Six Forever and Sam Rowan especially since there’s plenty to be excited about in Vancouver lately. The World Cup is also happening in Vancouver as we discovered Boston/Foxboro a few weeks ago, and let’s be honest, North America is going to put on an epic performance in four years on the pitch and as host and I can not wait .
But let’s move on to more pressing matters as Sam also talks about Vancouver’s recent form, roster additions and goals scored below. As always, you can check out my answers to Sam’s questions on their site.
TBM: The 2026 World Cup is coming to Vancouver, what was the city’s reaction to this announcement and talk about Canada qualifying and returning to the World Cup for 2022.
SR: I think people are generally ecstatic. About a year ago Vancouver seemed to be out of contention for political reasons and there was a lot of disappointment, especially since at that time Canada had not secured a World Cup berth. 2022. a very different form with the success the national team has enjoyed over the past 12 months.
It was also good news that Vancouver needed for the national team. During the most recent international window, the men’s national team played two outrageous games in Vancouver. First, Canada canceled its international friendly match with Iran after the Prime Minister publicly denounced the event, then the catch-up match was canceled hours after kick-off due to disputes in regarding compensation between players and the Canadian Soccer Association. Many fans had already traveled some distance to Vancouver for the match and were not informed until they arrived at the gates, which caused a great deal of frustration for both the players and Canada Soccer.
What’s exciting about the 2026 World Cup is that not only will Vancouver be a host city, but it looks like it’s going to be a pretty big one, with sources saying Vancouver will host six games and could also be the group draw site.
TBM: The Whitecaps have done well recently winning four of their last six, recovering from a rough start to the year. Former Reverend Cody Cropper has been getting more time in goal recently, but have there been any other changes Vancouver have made to straighten out their form.
SR: It’s a bit odd, because the Whitecaps had their best form this year when their roster was thin and there were a lot of games in quick succession. A simple answer is that the Whitecaps are a pretty good home team and have been an abysmal road team, despite a surprise win over FC Dallas. As such, the recent hectic schedule at home has really helped them.
Likewise, there were a few tactical tweaks that made the difference. True to his Italian heritage, manager Vanni Sartini has insisted on playing three at the back. At the start of the year, some of the shortcomings of this system were badly exposed, and there were also a number of individual errors that really eroded any defensive confidence. While the back three remain, the nuances of the system have changed, providing more support for wide centre-backs and emphasizing a more structured role for Vancouver’s wide players. More at this point, I think Sartini has been honest with himself about how Vancouver will have to play on the road. Initially, the Whitecaps tried to bring their style of play into the opposing stadiums, but there seemed to be a mismatch between the manager’s instructions and how the team was comfortable playing. Now, with a more conservative game plan on the road, the players look much more confident and decisive in their execution, more like they have at home all year.
As for Cody Cropper, he started out brilliantly for Vancouver with some outstanding performances, but has come down to earth recently with a few soft goals he allowed against Seattle, as well as one more recently at the Canadian Championship.
TBM: I think Lucas Cavallini is clearly good at football and leads the Caps with 5 goals so far in 2022. Can he carry the scoring load with the score by the support of the committee behind him on the scoreboard like Gauld, Raposo, White, etc. ., or will Vancouver need reinforcements to boost their chances of making the playoffs?
SR: For a long time forward play was a real problem for Vancouver, even as late as the start of last season. That being said, the breakout of Brian White and the resurgence of Lucas Cavallini really put those talks to a standstill. On the contrary, Vanni Sartini needs to find a way to get these two on the pitch at the same time.
Despite that, your comment is correct: the Whitecaps will likely need more consistent goal production to qualify for the playoffs. I think one area of the pitch that will help a lot in this regard is the midfield pivot. The Whitecaps have just added League Two’s Andres Cubas to the middle of the park, and he’s already had a huge impact, providing a ‘destroyed and progressed’ type of player that the Whitecaps haven’t had in years. With his continued play, the Whitecaps should start to hold the ball a bit more and deliver services to the likes of Cavallini and White in dangerous areas with more consistency. That’s part of what’s been so impressive about Cavallini so far this year, he’s done a lot of the dirty work in the build himself. I would also add that attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld, who can definitely be a game breaker for Vancouver, has struggled with injuries and fitness, so they haven’t gotten the most out of him yet this season. All that to say that I think the Whitecaps have reason to believe their offense will improve in the second half, even without adding another striker to the squad.
As for the game against New England itself, the Whitecaps did a decent job of balancing their squad with a midweek rotation in the Canadian Championship against York United. The only safe starter who is injured at the moment is Thomas Hasal in goal. I would expect the starting XI to look like this:
3-4-1-2 (attackers ranked first): Cavallini – Dajome; Gauls; Raposo-Cubas-Teibert-Godinho; Brown – Veselinovic – Blackmon; Cropping
This one is probably a toss up between two teams in good shape but the Whitecaps have been great at home this season so I’m going to say home advantage plays a tiebreaker and Vancouver wins by a score of 2-1. I think the game will hinge on whether Vancouver’s back three can keep Bou and Gil in check, if they’re able to do that the ‘Caps have enough firepower to find a few goals.