VANCOUVER, B.C. – Who will lead the line for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Real Salt Lake on Saturday at BC Place (4 pm ET, TSN/RDS2 in Canada, watch on MLS Live in US)?
Well, it may come down to what approach the home side adopts. Do the ‘Caps continue trying to play a possession game against a side that is one the league’s most capable possession sides, or do they play perhaps more pragmatically and look to counter?
“We are doing a better job of that this season,” head coach Martin Rennie said at training on Friday of the team’s ability to hold the ball. “It’s an interesting storyline to see how the possession will go, because both teams like to do it, and Salt Lake are one of the best at it.
“At the end of it all, I wouldn’t mind if we have no possession but we win the game. That’s my No. 1 concern, but I’d like to have possession and win – that would be my ideal.”
If Rennie feels his team does have a good chance of keeping the ball, expect Corey Hertzog to keep his place – the 22-year-old came in at the expense of Darren Mattocks last game as a surprise starter and picked up a poacher’s goal in a 1-1 away draw to the San Jose Earthquakes.
There was some doubt about whether he’d be able to play this weekend after missing training early in the week due to strep throat, but he says he’s fully over it now and “definitely” able to play 90 minutes if asked.
As for what the player needs to do to keep his place, he has a very simple formula.
“Just keep scoring,” Hertzog said. “I want to score every game. That’s what I just need to keep doing. If not scoring, setting up chances, trying to get free kicks in and around the box or winning penalties.”
Still, while Rennie says he’d prefer to have possession, pragmatism might win the day and Mattocks could return to the starting lineup.
The Jamaican’s speed is the ideal weapon for a counter-attacking approach and if the Whitecaps do lose the possession battle, Mattocks could be their best outlet. “For me personally, I’m always in one frame of mind mentally,” Mattocks said. “If I’m in the XI, or if I’m on the bench, it doesn’t really matter. The biggest thing for me is to stay focused.
“My number could be called any minute to go in the game or start the game. You’ve just got to be mentally prepared to be ready to go.”
Designated Player Kenny Miller, who missed out last weekend due to a hamstring problem, has been limited with his training this week.
The Scotsman has started the season strongly with two goals from three appearances, but Rennie says the player is a "game time decision" due to his injury.