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Three questions on the Vancouver Whitecaps ahead of Saturday’s game

Who is this Vancouver team, and exactly what do we make of them? We ask for some help on those items to preview Saturday’s game.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at New York Red Bulls Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The weekend is almost here as FC Dallas is getting set to head to Vancouver this afternoon. To help get a sense of their weekend opponents, we have brought in Andrew Bahl from SBNation Vancouver Whitecaps blog Eight Six Forever to help give us a sense of what this Whitecaps side is about and who exactly they are these days after their massive overhaul this offseason.

BDS: Vancouver made a ton of moves in the offseason to retool their roster, which moves have panned out so far? And which ones have failed to hit the mark?

ESF: With the arrival of Marc dos Santos also meant the arrival of basically a new squad. The most ballyhooed move was definitely the signing of In-Beom Hwang from the K League and I’d say he’s lived up to the hype thus far. A creative midfielder with great technical skill, In-Beom had a great AFC Cup before coming to Vancouver. Unfortunately, I think MLS teams are starting to figure out that they can limit his effectiveness by putting him under lots of pressure, because the rest of our midfield is not nearly as good at picking out a pass. Also, CB Erik Godoy has been a revelation and his partnership with Doneil Henry (likely to miss Saturday’s match with an injury) has been one of the best in the league.

In terms of disappointment, Lucas Venuto, a pacey Brazilian winger, has not been very good thus far. A bit of a surprise for many fans because he was an important player in Austria but has shown poor decision making and finishing since arriving. There have been similar frustrations with Lass Bangoura, another winger we brought in from Rayo in Spain, but he has at least been able to get on the score sheet. The fact that the front office appears to have whiffed on these guys, however, is a big reason why our offense has been so stagnant.

BDS: Because of all of those changes in the offseason, and bringing in a new manager, what is the expectation out of the fans there this season for this squad?

ESF: I think most fans, myself included, expected this to be a rebuilding year given the sheer number of new faces on the roster. I think in our season preview roundtable I predicted the Caps to finish about where they are now--on the periphery of the playoff hunt but still on the outside looking in. There is certainly a lack of patience with the front office, given some questionable signings in the past, but I think most reasonable fans trust MDS’ vision tactically and believe he’s the right man to lead the club. This is a team that could really click in the second half of the season but it just might be a matter of too little too late in terms of playoff qualification.

BDS: Vancouver is sitting outside the playoff line, looking in at the moment. What do they need to do here to work their way into the mix and avoid another season without a playoff trip?

ESF: Simply put, the offense has to be better. MDS has a tactical vision involving a high press and more possession based attacking than what we saw under former manager Carl Robinson but I don’t think he’s yet discovered the best formation to really jump start the attack. Of the 14 goals we’ve scored this year, five have come from defenders and another two have been penalties. Unfortunately, this has been a rather accurate reflection of a team that has struggled to create chances. I do think there’s reason to be optimistic, however. Yordy Reyna was looking to be a dangerous player before getting hurt and Ali Adnan, who is on loan from Udinese until the end of June, has really been coming into his own. MDS also seemed to hit on a three-in-the-back formation which got the best out of Fredy Montero and Joaquin Ardaiz, our two forwards, last match in New York and I would expect him to continue to use that going forward. If the 3-5-2 continues to bear fruit and the offensive production rises accordingly, I think this is a team that could sneak into the playoffs.

You can find our answers to their questions on Eight Six Forever.