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Major League Soccer Week 11 kicks off with Vancouver at Chivas USA - why it matters for RSL

Well Real Salt Lake players and fans had a chance to watch the Vancouver Whitecaps battle to a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls last Saturday afternoon, well Wednesday night the Whitecaps will be playing at the Home Depot Center as they face Chivas USA.  Vancouver are 1-5-6 overall and 0-2-3 in their last 5 matches, Chivas USA are 3-4-4 overall and 2-2-1 in their last 5 matches, Chivas has struggled at home and are just 1-3-1, while the Whitecaps have yet to get a win on the road and are 0-4-1 away from Empire Field.

Chivas will be hit harder by injuries, call ups, and suspensions, Jorge Flores and Marcos Mondaini are both suspended, Simon Elliot, Andrew Boyens and Alejandro Moreno are on national team duty, while Blair Gavin and Jimmy Conrad are doubtful due to injury.  The Whitecaps will be missing Terry Dunfield, Nizar Khalfan, and Michael Boxall due to national team call ups, and Atiba Harris, John Thorrington, and Jonathan Leathers are either out or doubtful with injuries.

more after the jump:

While Chivas USA has been a decent side under new head coach Robin Fraser, the Whitecaps struggled more than their management thought they would and have already made a change at head coach Tom Soehn takes over for Teitur Thordarson, Soehn will try to get more out of their players and leverage his knowledge of MLS to the advantage of the organization.

I am expecting that Chivas USA will look to refocus on defense, in April they had 3 clean sheets in 5 matches, but in May they failed to get a single one and gave up 7 goals in 4 matches.  One of those April clean sheets came when Chivas visited the Whitecaps at Empire Field.  Chivas has been good scoring at the start and ends of halves, they have 3 goals in the first 15 minutes, 4 on each side of halftime, and 2 in the final 15 minutes of matches.  The scoring has been very balanced for Chivas as Moreno has 3 goals and 2 assists, Justin Braun has 3 goals and 1 assist, and Nick LaBrocca has 2 goals and 2 assists, while 6 others have all contributed a single goal.  I have to believe that a lot of pressure will be on Justin Braun on Wednesday night to add to his 3 goals.

On defense it has been minutes 16-45 that have been the problem for Chivas as 8 of the 13 goals they have allowed were scored in that time frame.  I think that Chivas is still a team where individual efforts are what is rules how they play, as their lineup has often changed from match to match.  As they get a more consistent lineup, I think we will see the team play a much more consistent style, which you have to believe is the long term plan.

The Whitecaps have also suffered from extremes of inconsistency, which I actually expected from the expansion side, their lineup has settled a bit but I think nobody has been a better example of inconsistency and shown a lack of discipline than has Eric Hassli, they DP forward. He leads the team with 4 goals (2 from the PK spot), but also has been ejected twice and had to sit due to a yellow card suspension as well.  It has been silly mistakes that cost him 3 matches for the team.

It has been late match heroics at home that has been the most noticeable thing about the Whitecaps, 7 of their 13 goals have come in the final 30 minutes of matches.  They have started strong, giving up just 1 goal in the first 30 minutes of their matches, but the final 15 minutes of the first half and the first 15 of the second half have seen them give up 5 goals in each time frame.  While they have scored 3 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, they have also given up 4 goals in that time period as well.

I think the two sides will actually match up very well against each other, I would say that you might see the most active time of the match between minutes 31-60, that is when Chivas have scored 8 of their 14 goals and when Vancouver have allowed 10 of their 17 goals.  I think Chivas takes advantage of it and ends up with a big 2-1 win at home.