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New England Revolution vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Know Thy Enemy

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Ah, quick midweek turnarounds. It just wouldn't be an MLS season without two home matches sandwiching a cross-country Wednesday road rip.

The Revolution are getting a look at MLS's other expansion side in the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday, the Vancouver Whitecaps. Like the Timbers, they're a west coast team with a rich history and roots put down long before their entry into MLS. Unlike the Timbers, they've shown themselves to have no difficulty scoring goals, and they've actually won a game (against Toronto, but a win is a win).

Vancouver will showcase several MLS newcomers, not least of which their designated player, hulking Swiss striker Eric Hassli. The target forward showed his class in week one against Toronto with a brace; he also showed his physicality and tenacity in week two by picking up two yellows and a suspension. Despite playing against another big striker in Kenny Cooper on Saturday, the Revolution defense has yet to deal with a forward who makes a living by using his size to beat up on defenders. It will be interesting to see how Soares and Cochrane deal with the challenge.

And let's not forget that Matt Reis didn't make the trip.

On the injury front, Franco Coria, Ousmane Dabo, Marko Perovic and Andrew Sousa are all listed as doubtful. No one is probable or questionable, and Matt Reis is (obviously) out. These are current as of April 5th (sorry about the initial listing, the team released an updated report today that I hadn't yet seen).

EDIT 4/6 AT 10:00 AM: Coria, Dabo and Perovic didn't even travel to Vancouver, so they're out.

Today's Q&A is with Benjamin Massey of Eighty-Six Forever, SB Nation's Vancouver Whitecaps blog.

TBM: Saturday's match was an incredible emotional rollercoaster culminating in one of the greatest comebacks in MLS history. After going down 3-nil and having to watch Teal Bunbury put on a clinic in the home country he denied, the Whitecaps responded with spirited substitutions and two great pieces of finishing from Camilo. Do you think this obvious emotional high will carry over into the match against the Revs, or do you fear a hangover effect that will cause a flat performance?

BM: The Whitecaps are, by nature, not an emotional team. If you'd have heard Teitur Thordarson's post-game press conference, you would have had almost an overload of sang-froid: he might have jumped in joy when Camilo Sanvezzo's goal went in but give him five minutes and he was the picture of calm, even dismissively comparing this game to a time earlier in his career when he came back from 4-0 down. Pleased, of course, but at the same time taking it all in perspective.

I don't think the Whitecaps will come out flat, like this mid-week game against New England is just anticlimax. But I don't think they'll come out gung-ho and riding a high from Saturday either.

Read the rest of his answers after the jump.

TBM: Teitur Thordarson's substitutions on Saturday appeared to cause a full 180 in the team's performance. Do you expect to see some lineup changes as a direct result of that?

BM: Unlikely. Davide Chiumiento, who Thordarson brought on for twenty minutes and assisted Sanvezzo's first goal, is fighting a hamstring strain. He'd been certified by the team's medical staff to play twenty minutes, but if he tweaked the hammy any further he'd be out for about two months. So I expect Thordarson to continue taking it easy with him. As for Nizar Khalfan, who came in at left midfield and turned the game on his head, the 22-year-old Tanzanian is a very mercurial player. Khalfan started our second game in Philadelphia and looked poor: I've joked in the past that there's Good Khalfan and Bad Khalfan and you never know which one you'll get until he gets on the field. Blake Wagner and Wes Knight, the two starting wingers on Saturday, weren't exactly electrifying but they were both effective and unless injury forces changes to the lineup, they should both start tomorrow.

TBM: Give us an under the radar player that Revs fans should watch out for.

BM: Regular Eighty Six Forever readers won't be taken aback when I say the Revolution should beware of Terry Dunfield. He scored once himself in the Toronto game, and he did a lot of the work to get Sanvezzo's first goal against Kansas City, but that's not why Revs fans should keep an eye on him. Dunfield's greatest assets are box-to-box. He's not particularly athletic, but what he is is smart. He's only played three career MLS games but he already seems like a past master of using his body; if you go back over the tape of Whitecaps games you won't see many scoring chances coming down the centre of midfield. Dunfield just crowds them out, strips the ball, or at worse gets the attack to go the direction he wants to go. Sometime when the Revs are on the counter, just watch Dunfield deal with it. He's like a master class in defensive midfield all to himself.

TBM: Which Revolution player do you think the Whitecaps fear most on the pitch?

BM: Shalrie Joseph, not to pick the obvious answer. But, well, it's obvious. He may be getting old, but by god the man can play soccer. He's picked up a couple goals from you already and as midfield generals go he's one of the most accomplished (and sometimes underappreciated) players in Major League Soccer. I admit to feeling a little lump in my throat at the idea of Joseph trying to pass around our large, somewhat immobile central defense. Not a good sort of lump.

TBM: Finally, give us your projected starting XI and a prediction on the final score.

BM: The Whitecaps lineup depends hugely on their starting lineup. The biggest questions surround Greg Janicki, who suffered a hip pointer in Saturday's game and stayed in too long, looking noticeably ineffective. Janicki's a tough ol' cuss and will try to play even if he can't. He's currently listed as a probable starter, but one doesn't really know until kickoff. Other injured players including Jay DeMerit, Davide Chiumiento, John Thorrington, Shea Salinas, and Joe Cannon aren't expected to be available for the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Omar Salgado and Russell Teibert are both on U-20 international duty.

If Janicki can go, I expect an eleven of:

GK: Jay Nolly
RB: Jonathan Leathers. CB: Greg Janicki, Michael Boxall. LB: Alain Rochat
CM: Terry Dunfield, Gershon Koffie
RW: Wes Knight. LW: Blake Wagner
ST: Atiba Harris, Eric Hassli

If Janicki's unavailable, Rochat will slide over to centre back. Probably Blake Wagner will move to left back, and Nizar Khalfan will start at left wing.