The Vancouver Whitecaps should win the Canadian Championship again this year. Well, at least on paper. The ‘Caps are pretty much favoured to win the Voyageurs Cup for the third straight year.

Soccer, of course, is played on the pitch and not on paper or a computer screen. The beauty of the Canadian Championship and cup tournaments in general is that upsets can happen. Club de Soccer Saint-Laurent beat Halifax Wanderers on penalties in the preliminary round. TSS Rovers also upset Valour last year.

The Whitecaps have been victims of Canadian Championship upsets as well. In 2021, they lost a 4-3 thriller to Pacific FC in Langford. Two years before that, Vancouver was stunned by Cavalry 2-1 at BC Place. Speaking of Cavalry, that’s who they are up against.

A look at Cavalry

Cavalry have a 1-2-1 record and sit fifth in the Canadian Premier League table. Their only win was on Friday and that was a 3-1 win over Vancouver FC. They also beat Vancouver in the preliminary round and that was a 1-0 win. Both games were at ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows.

Cavalry is led by the likes of striker Tobias Warschewski, midfielder Charlie Tefford and defender Daan Klomp. Head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr likes to play a 4-2-3-1 system but has experimented with a 3-4-2-1 in the past. Cavalry is a team that likes to play out from the back and has been known for being defensively sound.

Whitecaps looking to prevent an upset

Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini spoke to the media via Zoom and liked the fact that the Canadian Championship going back to two legs.

“I like it for a lot of reasons,” he said. “I think it’s always beautiful when it gives us the possibility to explore CPL’s environment. If you remember two years ago like when we played in Calgary, it is really hard to win there. We had to go to penalties. So you know having the possibility to have a second game at PC Place, I think it’s really good for us.”

“They are a team that they are not shy to put a fight on,” said Sartini on what kind of game he is expecting from Cavalry. “They are a team that they change defensive attitude according to the team they play against, so they go very aggressive man to man. Also, they are supposed to be extremely, extremely patient and good on the ball because if we lose the ball, they can be very aggressive and they can counter. I think that when they have the ball they will try to do the things that they are very good at. We need to be ready to protect our midfield in the best way possible to limit their chances.”

No Sam Adekugbe and Damir Kreilach

Canadian international Sam Adekugbe is out for the match as he sustained an injury on his calf during Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Austin. Unfortunately, there will be no homecoming for the Calgary native.

Sartini didn’t provide an update on the severity of Adekugbe’s injury but said he expects him to be out for both legs of the tie.

“I would be the happiest person if he is completely ready in two weeks, but I don’t think so,” he said when asked about Adekugbe.

Damir Kreilach will also be out as he is dealing with an ankle injury.

For the first time this season, expect 22-year-old Isaac Boehmer to start in goal. With the Canadian Championship having a rule where three Canadians start, Sartini confirmed Boehmer is one of them. Ryan Raposo, Ali Ahmed, Ralph Priso and Levonte Johnson are also options.

“I expect Isaac to be Isaac,” said Sartini. “I expect Isaac to be kind of a cool cat like he is. He’s very concentrated, he knows what he needs to do. He knows his task, we have total confidence in him.”

Kickoff is at 6 pm and the game can be seen on OneSoccer. That is on Telus channel 980 or the Fubo TV app.