The Vancouver Whitecaps are in a slump and that is pretty obvious.

After March and April brought some promise, Vancouver had fallen back down to Earth. They’ve fallen faster than a meteor. It is hard to believe that before April 13’s 3-1 home defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Whitecaps were second in the Western Conference. Now they sit seventh with a 5-4-5 record.

Things have not been good enough. Saturday’s match against Inter Miami without their big three stars in front of a huge crowd was a massive oppurtunity to get out of their funk. But even without their big three, Inter Miami pulled off a road win.

Now, the Whitecaps have more questions than answers.

What the stats say about the Whitecaps slump

Vancouver is struggling to score. That is also quite alarming considering they were one of the highest-scoring teams in MLS. Since Brian White’s goal against the New York Red Bulls on April 27, the Whitecaps have only scored twice in MLS play. Both were Ryan Gauld’s penalty kicks. So no goals in open play in 600 minutes and counting. Ouch.

In May, the Whitecaps are 0-2-3 with a -5 goal differential and 0.40 points per game according to SoccerStats.Com. If you look at this month alone, Vancouver is 25th in MLS. The only teams worse than them are Atlanta United, Chicago Fire, CF Montreal and Sporting Kansas City. (Who the Whitecaps play on Wednesday by the way.) They along with Vancouver are the only teams in MLS that are winless in May.

SoccerStats also has a stat called “Relative Form”. It takes a look at a team’s points per game of the last eight games and their season total and the difference in percentage between both of those values. Relative Form shows which teams are better or worse than usual and compares their forms with each other. It

In the case of the Whitecaps, their PPG this season is 1.36 but in the last eight games, (starting with the game against the Galaxy) the PPG is at 0.75. The percentage between those is -45%. The only teams with worse Relative Form are Chicago,(-48%) Atlanta (-59%) and SKC. (-68%) Yeah, that is not good at all.

A big reason why the Whitecaps are in their funk is obviously, the lack of goals. It has been 600 minutes and counting since an open-play goal.

The problem is the Whitecaps are not getting enough shots. According to FootballReference, they have taken a total of 168 shots on target which is 21st in MLS, but only 55 have hit the target which is also 21st. The shots on target percentage for Vancouver is 32.7% which is tied for 20th in the league with FC Dallas and Philadelphia Union.

Vancouver has also conceded 11 goals in their last eight games. Before the Galaxy game, they only conceded six goals in their first six games.

So what needs to change?

Just like the weather outside as I write this, the mood surrounding the Whitecaps is grim. It is understandable why fans are frustrated. This was supposed to be a year of promise and building off 2023’s success. The first two months of 2024 made it seem like this year was going to be special. The last month has brought the “same old Whitecaps” back.

As stated in the post-match report from the Inter Miami game, sloppiness and overthinking in the final third have been Vancouver’s downfall. There have also been numerous sleepy defensive moments.

Things aren’t going right. It feels like the sky is falling. Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini stated in his post-match press conference after the loss to Inter Miami that he doesn’t want everyone to feel down because he and his team need confidence.

Sartini has also stated that he and his coaching staff should make some tactical changes. That doesn’t mean changing their identity too much, after all the players have bought into Sartini’s high-intensity and pressing system.

It’s been beaten to death how much the Whitecaps need another creative attacker and another striker to compete with White. But with over a month to go until the transfer window opens, changes need to be internal.

“I think as a coaching staff, we need to tweak things tactically…We need to change something,” said Sartini after the loss to Inter Miami.

Maybe a formation change would do something?

Vancouver has been playing a 3-4-3 which basically turns into a 3-5-2 in attack. Perhaps a change to the Christmas tree formation (4-3-2-1) that was used early last season could provide a spark? Or the classic 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1? Sartini joked to the media on Saturday and a 4-2-2 with long balls won’t happen.

He also hinted that there could be players playing in different positions. Given that many of them can play multiple positions, it makes sense. Sartini referred to Gauld as an eight or out wide and Fafa Picault in the front two. Maybe we see those next game when the Whitecaps travel to Kansas City?

Changes could also see less game time for certain players and more for others. Mathias Laborda has looked very poor in recent matches, especially against Inter Miami. Perhaps he will sit for a few games in place of Javain Brown or Bjørn Inge Utvik. The latter has been solid in the few games he has played this season.

Maybe Ryan Raposo and Giuseppe Bovalina are in the lineup in place of the likes of Alessandro Schöpf.

Sartini has stated numerous times his players need to stick to the plan. It looks like the plan needs some tweaks.He also said on Saturday, the team needs a shock to restore confidence.

“We need more confidence and bite,” he said.

Teams go through slumps and MLS teams are no exception. The season is long but time runs out quickly. It is up to the Whitecaps to figure things out because otherwise, we could be in for another disappointing year.