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Scouting Vancouver Whitecaps: Keys to this crucial Western Conference game

How will Dallas stop their poor form?

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas have not beaten the Whitecaps in Vancouver in the last six times they have played. No MLS team has won on the road in June. These two facts make it hard to be optimistic about Dallas getting three points away this week. This Dallas team that once felt like unexpected world beaters earlier in the season, have now fallen back to the mean, where you aren’t supposed to win every game.

A Return for Brek Shea

He’s been back in Dallas before, but this time in a different jersey. After being traded to the Whitecaps from Orlando, Brek Shea will face Dallas this weekend. The trade to Vancouver wasn’t all that he hoped it would be; he’s started only one game this season. It seems that Brek Shea’s window of opportunity for cementing a decent career is rapidly closing. Last season he was afforded 22 starts and he’s now found himself backing up 16-year old Alphonso Davies.

Lineup

This is the most common lineup Vancouver has fielded this season, and after beating Atlanta United 3-1 with it in their last game, don’t expect to see too many changes.

Key match up

Kendall Waston vs. Maxi Urruti

Portland did a great job neutralizing Dallas’ attack last week by closing down attackers and being physical with them. It was clear that Portland, and even Tulsa in the US Open Cup, were under strict instructions not to give Mauro Diaz space, which makes sense, you never want to let the other team’s most creative player run rampant. But what made their aggressive closing down so effective is that they were able to put hands on the striker. If you can get away with it, it’s very effective. It hinders the striker’s ability to hold up play because he’s got someone on his back, it also doesn’t allow him to have free runs and puts the defender in position to knock the ball away. Urruti struggled to cope with being marked physically against Portland, and if Vancouver watched the film, they’ll certainly send 6’5 Kendall Waston out to let Urruti know he’s there.

EDIT: Waston is now listed as OUT by Vancouver.

Key to the game

Whitecaps want to counter

Vancouver are better when they don’t have the ball. They lost 1-0 to DC United with 53% possession and to Houston with 59% possession, but beat Montreal with 39% possession and SKC with 41% possession. They thrive in chaos and Dallas cannot lose focus for even a second, or Vancouver will make the most of it.

Dallas has to build an attack

If the Whitecaps are going to sit back and counter (even at home), then Dallas has to be able to break them down with incisive passes. They cannot rely on Barrios’ crosses into a packed box to result in a goal. They have to be clinical in the space they are allowed. This challenge really falls on Kellyn Acosta to put some deadly balls in that a teammate can finish off.