Why All Eyes Should Be On Vancouver And MontrealThe Whitecaps and Impact have special things happening this season
by Katherine Rupp | Wednesday, August 05, 2015
The second half of the 2015 MLS season is upon us – as the MLS All Star Game is more or less split between the nine or so months that MLS runs – and late summer and into autumn looks to be some of the best time to pay attention to Major League Soccer.
Not only is the Supporters Shield race heating up – with DC United leading the race at the current moment – but this is the time of year that the hustle and bustle to get into a good position for the playoffs really gets interesting. With, what it seems like everyone knows, a strong Western Conference has made way for a really great race to the playoffs. Even though many people may be talking about how DC United is strong right now (but can they keep it up is the real question) or how shaky Real Salt Lake is this year because of the loss of so many stalwarts from previous seasons (Saborio, Grabavoy, etc.), what many people are skimming over is the strong and steady play of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Currently in second in the Supporters Shield standings right after DC and in front of FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy, the Whitecaps are also leading the Western Conference. Although Vancouver may sometimes seem like the littlest brother in the Cascadia rivalry when pitted against Seattle or Portland, the Canadian club may just be showing its muscles this season. With Carl Robinson at the helm, as very much a player’s coach, the Whitecaps look to set their sights on finishing with their first MLS Cup.
Additionally, a team that should be of interest to soccer fans in North America during this second section of the season is the Montreal Impact. The bleu-blanc-noir may surprise some people for being a team to watch but the team seems to be making (mostly) quiet but impactful changes to the squad. With about 5 games in hand for the Impact, and just above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference standings, the team looks to reverse the past few seasons of being at the bottom of the standings totem pole. Recently, the Impact made a trade with Columbus where Crew SC acquired Jack McInerney for a selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. Also, two players were added to the squad, one that some may not have heard of, the other…well, he’s kind of a big deal. Johan Venegas, the Costa Rican international, joins the team in Montreal, as does Cote d’Ivoire and former Chelsea player, Didier Drogba.
Although there are aspects to each team in MLS that can make them interesting or something to watch out for (Benny Feilhaber in KC, Frank Lampard playing eventually in NYC, Kaka doing what he does in Orlando, Giovinco playing out of his mind in Toronto, etc.), make sure to keep Vancouver and Montreal in mind. Even if neither team has won an MLS Cup, and from season to season they can be a bit up and down in the standings, this may just be the season that surprises fans for both the Whitecaps and the Impact.