The nightcap of Saturday’s MLS schedule will feature LAFC hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps in a Western Conference battle. At home, LAFC is a huge favorite with a moneyline of -400 compared to Vancouver’s moneyline of +880. The moneyline for a draw is currently listed at +480.
The Whitecaps are lucky not to be last in the Western Conference, as they are in a three-way tie with 13 points, with only FC Dallas behind them with 11 points. The silver lining is that Vancouver has taken points from four of its last five matches with one win and three draws during that stretch. That includes a draw with both last-place Dallas and first-place Seattle Sounders, so the Whitecaps have been all over the place.
Meanwhile, LAFC is in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference. Bob Bradley’s squad is sitting in fifth place after collecting 21 points from their first 14 matches. However, LA’s recent three-game winning streak came to an end on Wednesday when a 92nd-minute goal by the Portland Timbers gave them a 2-1 loss on the road.
Wednesday’s late goal against Portland aside, Bradley has taken a pragmatic approach this season, making LAFC one of the best defensive teams in MLS. The Black and Gold have conceded 15 goals in 14 matches this season, which is tied for the sixth-fewest in the league. They’ve held three clean sheets on the season, albeit against three teams that are below them in the standings.
Of course, LAFC also has a fair amount of attacking prowess in the squad. While Carlos Vela has been held to just three goals in 11 matches this season, he’s still a big part of the attack with four assists. Uruguayan striker Diego Rossi has taken the lead with five goals, while Ecuadorian playmaker Jose Cifuentes has been dangerous with four goals and two assists while playing every match this season for LAFC.
Not to make excuses, but the Whitecaps have been hit hard by international absences during the Gold Cup. Starting goalie Maxime Crepeau is obviously the biggest loss, as the Whitecaps gave up four goals against Real Salt Lake in the first game that he missed. The club’s second-leading scorer Lucas Cavallini is also away on international duty with Canada, while left-back Cristian Gutierrez is also away from the team with Team Canada after contributing two assists earlier this season.
In Vancouver’s three matches since those players left for the Gold Cup, the Whitecaps have scored twice and conceded five goals. Colombian striker Cristian Dajome scored a massive goal to give Vancouver a win over LA Galaxy, but that’s his only goal in the team’s last four matches, so he’s gone a little cold when the team needs him the most. Plus, the Vancouver defense wasn’t exactly stout before Crepeau went on international duty, so the Whitecaps need to score goals to get positive results.
Play the Favorite
The odds don’t lie in this game, as the Whitecaps are facing an uphill battle. Coming off a scoreless draw against Houston in their last match, the Whitecaps will likely struggle to find a goal against the LAFC defense. Meanwhile, a second straight clean sheet for Vancouver seems unlikely, so bet on LAFC to earn all three points on Saturday night.
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