There was a lot of jubilation when the Vancouver Whitecaps won their second straight Canadian Championship title over CF Montreal on Wednesday night.
It was quite the scene at BC Place. The Whitecaps players and coaching staff celebrated with the fans which included head coach Vanni Sartini fist pumping with the Southside and a guy wanting to join the celebrations but got tackled North American football style. Too bad it is too late for the security guard to try out for the BC Lions.
The Whitecaps, of course, had a big party in the locker room and took Thursday off to rest after the final…and get over their hangovers.
However, it is back to business for the team as they are back in MLS action. But, their next game will be a very big test as they face FC Cincinnati. They are the best team in MLS right with a 12-3-1 record and 39 points. They are on a six-game winning streak.
Sartini and the Whitecaps know that the Voyageurs Cup victory should be a launching pad toward the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“Let’s go win the MLS,” said Sartini after the victory on Wednesday. “We’ll start probably after Cincinnati because we might be a little bit drunk. But I think it would be a crime against ourselves, a crime against football, a crime against everything if we don’t make the playoffs.”
After the Whitecaps won the Canadian Championship last season, they made a push for the playoffs that lasted until Decision Day. But unfortunately, they lost on that day to Minnesota United 2-0 in St. Paul.
The Whitecaps are currently sixth in the Western Conference. They have 21 points and a 5-6-5 record. But given the fact that just six points separate the second-place Seattle Sounders (27) and the Whitecaps, there is a massive opportunity to climb the standings this summer.
FC Cincinnati: Supporters Shield contenders
As mentioned, FC Cincinnati are the hottest team in MLS. Their last game was in the quarterfinal of the US Open Cup against USL Championship side Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. That was a 3-1 home victory for Cincinnati which included Alvaro Barreal scoring one of the nicest volleys you will ever see.
FC Cincinnati’s last game in MLS was a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire. Midfielder Luciano Acosta got the winner in the 83rd minute which was the only shot on target…for both teams.
Acosta leads FC Cincinnati in goals (seven) and assists. (4.) Former member of the Chelsea loan army Matt Miazga has been a key part of their backline as he leads them in clearances (145) and interceptions (90.)
FC Cincinnati and the Whitecaps are tied for the fifth-highest-scoring team in the league as each team has scored 26 goals this season. But the Whitecaps have conceded 20 goals this season and FC Cincinnati has conceded 15.
Since FC Cincinnati came into the league in 2019, they have only met the Whitecaps twice. The first was a 2-1 Whitecaps win on August 3, 2019. Hwang In-Boem tied the game in the 41st minute and Felipe Martins got the 84th-minute winner.
The second was last season and that was a 2-2 draw. Ryan Gauld tied the game at one apiece in the fifth minute and Cristian Dájome helped the Whitecaps salvage a point in the 82nd minute.
It is worth noting that the last two meetings between these two clubs have been in Cincinnati so this is the first time FC Cincinnati will come to BC Place and play on the turf.
Can the Whitecaps get over the hangover?
The party is over and it is back to business. It is always tough for anyone, let alone a soccer player to get back to work after letting loose and having a big party.
But the goal remains the same: get three points.
The Whitecaps have the advantage. Why? It is because they are at home. At home this season, they are 5-3-1. FC Cincinnati on the road are 3-3-1 but are still among the best road teams in the league.
The Whitecaps have been playing high-pressing, free-flowing soccer all season. Taking the foot off the gas isn’t an option on Saturday and the cup hangover can’t be an excuse.
The Whitecaps lead MLS in big chances created (31) and are second in expected goals. (26.3) The big key is to get as many chances as possible. But as mentioned, Cincinnati are a decent defensive team and their backline might be harder to break than any other opponent they faced so far. Well, except the Colorado Rapids.
Winning the Voyageurs Cup was great but that should be the starting point towards the playoffs and hopefully a deep run. But first things first, the best team in the league comes to BC Place and the Whitecaps have to take their hardest test of the season.