1) How do you think the bizarre situation with the NCC replay will affect the Whitecaps this weekend? Do you expect a focused performance or a letdown?
Well, the Vancouver Whitecaps have had a lot of bizarre situations this year and they've come back reasonably strong. It doesn't take a close observation of the players to see how frustrated they were with how the non-game in Toronto panned out, but these guys are professionals. A lot of their frustration comes from knowing that they're a pretty poor road team who were thoroughly outplaying Toronto in their own field. They've strung a couple great games together in a row and haven't gotten the wins they wanted. So it's easy to be frustrated, but at the same time the whole reason they're upset is that they've strung a couple great games together in a row! I don't think they're going to come completely unglued, and for that reason I don't expect their form to sag too badly.
2) The Whitecaps appear to have a bunch of quality attacking options. How does Teitur Thordarson typically align Vancouver's frontline?
Teitur Thordarson tends to run a 4-4-2 with the two wide midfielders up high as wingers. With Atiba Harris injured, the usual forward pairing has been French designated player Eric Hassli and pint-sized Brazilian Camilo Sanvezzo. On the wings, Teitur has usually used Shea Salinas on the right and Davide Chiumiento on the left, although teenage Canadian Russell Teibert has been highly effective as a left winger when he has played. Many fans have called for the team to go to a 4-2-3-1 with Teibert and Salinas on the wings, Chiumiento in the middle as a withdrawn forward, and Hassli up top as a target man. Thordarson has showed his formation a few times mid-game but, possibly because of Teibert's fitness issues, has not yet started a game that way.
3) After excelling at the start of the season, Vancouver has declined in recent months. What would you pin this on?
Good luck becoming bad luck. Vancouver's good results at the beginning of the year were a bit of smoke and mirrors: beating Toronto FC at home isn't exactly the greatest achievement in the world, and nor is drawing Sporting Kansas City no matter how dramatic the ending was. Since then, a few key injuries have prevented the team's bevy of new players from adjusting to each other. They've had a couple draws that could easily have been wins (I think particularly of the home game against New England where the Whitecaps finished with nine men to New England's ten). In the past few weeks they've had a few good games, although nothing that will exactly vaunt Vancouver into playoff contention. New York would do well to be wary of the Whitecaps; they're not great but they're better than their record indicates.