Scouting Report: Vancouver Whitecaps FC

New addition Kobayashi leads Whitecaps' attack

Diago Kobayashi

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Photos

On the heels of the Crew's season-opening 3-0 road win over Chivas USA, the Black & Gold travels north up the Pacific coast to Vancouver on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET/ FOX Sports Ohio) to face Whitecaps FC. Also earning three points on opening weekend, the Caps will provide a difficult test for the Crew in front of another likely sell-out at BC Place.

Here are some things to know about the Crew's opponent this weekend:

LAST TIME OUT

Vancouver opened the season with a 1-0 victory over Canadian rivals Toronto FC last week at home. Ghanaian midfielder Gershon Koffie provided the difference-maker in the 60th minute following a brilliant build-up between Darren Mattocks, Lee Young-Pyo, Kenny Miller and Daigo Kobayashi to down the Reds.

Not everything went Martin Rennie's side's way on Saturday, however. Whitecaps captain and World Cup veteran Jay DeMerit left the match in the eighth minute due to what was later revealed as a fully ruptured Achilles tendon. The veteran centerback will miss most of the 2013 season recovering from the injury.

REPLACING DEMERIT

Despite losing DeMerit early on in Saturday's match, Vancouver kept the clean sheet intact, picking up where the team left off in 2012 with the solid defending of Lee Young-Pyo, Alain Rochat and Andy O'Brien. Newcomer Brad Rusin came on for DeMerit to make his MLS debut after playing the past two seasons in Denmark with HB Køge.

Comparable to the Crew's centerback tandem of Chad Marshall and Gláuber, O'Brien and Rusin combine for a formidable pairing in the middle of the Caps' backline. O'Brien and Rusin stand 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4, respectively, and will provide solid matchup on set-pieces with the Crew on Saturday.

On the outside, Young-Pyo was one of the top rightbacks in his debut season in MLS last year and provides dangerous service into the box on deadballs and crosses from the flank. On the left, Rochat brings experience from an extensive playing career in Switzerland and France.

IN THE ATTACK

Still coming together with new additions in playmaker Daigo Kobayashi, speedster Kekuta Manneh and Premier League veteran Nigel Reo-Coker, the Whitecaps will showcase a much-improved attack in 2013 with holdovers Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks in the final third.

Miller, a cerebral Scottish International, runs the channels well and is a clinical finisher in front of net. The Scot scored over 150 goals playing in Europe for such sides as Rangers, Celtic and Wolverhampton. Complimenting Miller, Mattocks brings athleticism and a nose for goal that netted the Jamaican seven tallies in 21 appearances as a rookie in 2012.

Behind Miller and Mattocks, Kobayashi is a dynamic attacking midfielder that has shown already that he can make an impact in MLS. The Japanese playmaker will be a danger providing service on set pieces with Mattocks, O'Brien and Rusin as targets. The Crew will have its hands full monitoring the various weapons in Whitecaps FC's offense.