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Inside the Opposition: Fredy Montero and the slow-starting Whitecaps

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MLS: New York Red Bulls at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps have had some difficulty scoring goals early this season. After the departures of Blas Perez, Pedro Morales, and Masato Kudo, the Whitecaps have been unable to replace their production.

In the offseason, they acquired Fredy Montero, the former Seattle Sounder, from a Chinese club. So far, he has lined up as a lone striker; Vancouver lacks a true number 9, and are somewhat lacking in size at the front with Christian Bolaños and Christian Techera often acting as wingers.

Another offseason pickup for the Whitecaps was Yordy Reyna from Red Bull Salzburg. He is an attacking midfielder with two goals in five starts for the Peruvian national team. He is yet to take the field this year though due to an injury in the preseason.

The Whitecaps currently sit 9th in the Western Conference, earning seven points in seven games, equal to the Impact’s total. They have lost four times in seven games, and have proven to have difficulty generating offensive scoring chances.

A main bright spot for the Whitecaps so far has been the play of Alphonso Davies. The 16-year-old from Edmonton, who came up through the Whitecaps Academy, has started in four games and has looked like the Whitecaps’ best player when he is on the pitch. Montero is leading the team with four goals so far on the year, but he has looked better when Davies is on his game, able to draw defenders away from the striker.

Other MLS arrivals are Brek Shea, who they traded for Giles Barnes, and Tony Tchani, who they acquired for Kekuta Manneh. Both are slowly rounding into better form as of late, with Tchani earning minutes in the defensive midfield with Matias Laba.

For the Impact to earn points against Vancouver, they will have to be stronger defensively than they have been. They looked vulnerable against Philadelphia, who aren’t a strong attacking team at all, much like Vancouver in the early stages of this season. If the Impact can remain tight defensively, they will be able to control the game, and earn chances the other way.