RSL Soapbox: Have any Whitecaps players been wrongly overlooked for the All-Star game?
Eighty Six Forever: There were no real snubs, although I think you could have made the case for a few players. Pedro Morales leads the Whitecaps in virtually every offensive category, and is the best offensive player on most nights. With Camilo gone, the 'Caps desperately needed someone that could fill that void on set pieces and penalties, and Morales has done just that. Matias Laba may not be flashy, but he is the rock of the Whitecaps defense and is only 22 years old. Laba doesn't show up on the scoresheet a whole lot, but in a defensive role, there are few better in MLS. Otherwise, David Ousted is a borderline case at best, but still has had a good season for the 'Caps. While it may have taken him a bit of time to find his groove in a Whitecaps kit, he's really taken steps forward in consistency this year.
RSL Soapbox: Vancouver is currently on the outside looking in with regard to playoff qualification. Will Vancouver make the playoffs this year?
Eighty Six Forever: That's a tough question to answer. History tells me no, given the Whitecaps have fallen hard in the second half of each of their last two seasons, both under Martin Rennie. In 2012, the Whitecaps made the playoffs, but just barely. After a strong start to the season, the wheels fell off and they backed in, losing to the LA Galaxy. In 2013 it was the same swan dive, except no playoffs. Now, here we are again, albeit with a new coach and plenty of new players on the squad. If the 'Caps can rediscover that high octane offence that saw them pepper opposing teams with shots, they have a chance. If they continue to play timid, as they have done the last month or so, the club will fall apart again.
RSL Soapbox: Has Jay DeMerit been worth his salary?
Eighty Six Forever: Not really. Demerit is a fan favourite and clearly connects with the public in a unique way, but it's frustrating to see him fight the injury bug yet again. Even before his injury he looked as though he had lost a step, and now he's admitted he's not sure if he'll give 2015 a go. Demerit has had an amazing career, but it's probably best if his time with the Whitecaps as a player comes to a close after 2014.
*Questions for RSL Soapbox*
Eighty Six Forever: Is Real Salt Lake deserving of it's second place seeding right now?
Barely. Part of me says yes because they came into this season with a new coach and some serious off-season surgeries to two of their forwards, namely Robbie Findley and Devon Sandoval. They came out of the gates and did not lose a game for a very long time and were able to accumulate a lot of points in the face of change and a short-handed lineup.
RSL Soapbox: Part of me says no because the wheels nearly came off after Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman, and Nick Rimando left to national duty. In years past, RSL has been able to hold the fort down when the leaders are away, but this year has not proven to play out that way yet. The other thing hurting the club at the moment is that the forward depth is about two deep at the moment with only one or two strikers truly threatening in front of goal.
Eighty Six Forever: Joao Plata seems to have taken a real step forward in production this season. What's he doing better this year?
RSL Soapbox: Most will tell you that Plata came into this season very fit and that he is more comfortable with the club. My opinion is that he is playing with more confidence this year. He is playing like he is the number one option on this team to score goals and it is paying off. He is happy here and is on a team that has embraced him and has a (cliche as it may be) family culture.
Eighty Six Forever: Do you see any lineup match-ups that favor either side?
RSL Soapbox: Real Salt Lake is in a goal-scoring drought in the run of play. They have had a few penalties and set piece goals, but nothing in the run of play lately. And since Vancouver's back line is nothing to sneeze at, they probably have an advantage. RSL has an advantage with Beckerman in the defensive midfield position. He has returned from the World Cup with a confidence and sharpness that is as high as ever.