Skip to content

Questions to answer in MLS preseason camp: Vancouver Whitecaps

Jan 27, 2013, 5:00 PM EDT

Mattocks

(Through the week we’ll look at three Major League Soccer clubs per day, considering what they need to accomplish and what questions deserve answers during preseason training camps. Opening day in MLS is March 2.)

Vancouver may have made last year’s playoffs, but having stumbled into the postseason after a mid-season makeover, 2013 comes with more questions than answers. Thankfully, there’s still a strong base of talent featuring the kind of veteran cornerstones that make create envy in more MLS bosses.

But players like Jay DeMerit and Lee Young-Pyo only provide a foundation – a fail safe ensuring one half of the Whitecaps’ game will be fine. Vancouver’s problem last year was going forward, with the team scoring seven fewer goals than any other playoff team. It’s difficult to imagine a return to the postseason unless the Whitecaps can find some more goals.

  • How good will Darren Mattocks be?

In 21 appearances and 15 starts, the 22-year-old Mattocks put up seven goals (1300 minutes). That’s a decent debut in an absolute sense, but compare that with the other forwards taken high in the 2012 SuperDraft: Andrew Wenger had four goals; Casey Townsend scored once; Sam Garza, Ethan Finlay, Chandler Hoffman, Dom Dwyer and Colin Rolfe failed to score. Mattocks scored more goals than the rest of the first round forward combined. Add in the mid-season reshuffle at BC Place and the demands of World Cup Qualifying and Mattocks’ rookie season looks impressive.

He was more impressive on the field. The raw abilities he showed forced you to imagine an attack that could do more than dump balls behind the defense. That will always be a huge part of the burner’s game, but Mattocks is capable of much more.

If Martin Rennie can harness that talent and put a system behind Mattocks’ inevitable improvement, Vancouver could have one of the more dangerous strikers in the league. But out your calculator, up his minutes, and bump up the numbers to account for some improvement and more help around him, and you can see a player challenging 14-15 goals. Even if it’s low double digits, that would solve a lot of Vancouver’s scoring problems.

  • What now without Barry Robson?

Scottish international Barry Robson is gone, and that’s a good thing. Martin Rennie was enamored with the midfielder, built his attack around him, and it cost the team. Vancouver was worse after Robson came into the lineup, with the former Celtic man see more success venting his frustrations than creating goals.

How they move on may depend on Omar Salgado’s health. He’s still coming back after last year’s foot injury, but when he returns, he’ll have to play, something that will influence Rennie’s deployment. Does he play on the left again? Or up top? Regardless, when you combine Salgado with Mattocks, Vancouver has two formidable (if emerging) talents in attack. That’s their future.

The midfield, however, looks thin. Once a position of depth, now Rennie only has Jun Marques Davidson, Gershon Koffie, and Matt Watson returning from the corps he used last season. Alain Rochat seems destined to see time here, but that doesn’t solve the position’s main problem: There’s little to offer in attack. This preseason, Rennie will need to identify the player that’s going to make the connection between the Koffie-level and Mattocks.

  • What has Martin Rennie learned?

Rennie looked like a perfect fit at the beginning of last season. In the middle, he got a little ahead of himself. With the departure of Robson, it’s clear there’s been some reconsideration of last year’s moves.

Call it a learning experience, but it remains to be seen what the lessons were. Surely Rennie has learned a lot about what his players can do, but how does that transfer onto those mid-season adjustments the Whitecaps will have to make during the summer window?

Hopefully Rennie gets comfortable with his squad before March so the changes Whitecaps fans see in the middle of the season are more gradual than last summer’s dice roll. The team has the talent to challenge for the playoffs again. Since it’s hard to imagine a mid-season overhaul that would change that state, Vancouver would best served trying to get the most out of now rather than waiting for their team to re-form in July.

MORE in ProSoccerTalk’s preseason camp series:

Latest Posts
  1. UEFA could leave FIFA if Blatter stays on, as support for Prince Ali grows

    May 28, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    UEFA to discuss possibility of walking away from FIFA in Berlin next month.

  2. Sepp Blatter refuses to quit as FIFA president despite plea from UEFA’s Michel Platini

    May 28, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT

    150528_BlatterFIFAlog Getty Images

    UEFA’s chief pleads with Blatter to walk away as world soccer’s governing body is in ruins.

  3. In historic first, FIFA 16 video game to feature women’s national teams, players

    May 28, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    (Photo Courtesy EA Sports) (Photo Courtesy EA Sports)

    PHOTOS & VIDEO: Women’s players are available in the FIFA video game series for the first time.

  4. Rafael Benitez confirms Napoli exit, expected to take charge of Real Madrid

    May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Rafael Benítez Rafael Benítez

    Former Valencia, Liverpool boss has called time in Naples as his hometown is calling.

  5. Russia, Vladimir Putin criticize US government for “illegal persecution” of FIFA

    May 28, 2015, 7:51 AM EDT

    Sepp Blatter, Vladimir Putin Sepp Blatter, Vladimir Putin

    The Russian president finds it “odd” that the FBI is chasing down FIFA officials…

  6. MLS Snapshot: LA Galaxy 1-0 Real Salt Lake

    May 28, 2015, 12:53 AM EDT

    Juninho, LA Galaxy Juninho, LA Galaxy

    Juninho’s early PK is all the Galaxy need, as they climb to 4th in the Western Conference. RSL, meanwhile, are on the outside looking in.

  7. US Open Cup 3rd round roundup: MLS teams learn 4th round opponents

    May 28, 2015, 12:43 AM EDT

    DC United v Real Salt Lake - 2013 U.S. Open Cup Final Getty Images

    17 MLS teams will entire this year’s US Open Cup in the 4th round. On Wednesday, they learned who they’ll face.

  8. MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 1-0 D.C. United

    May 28, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    Maximiliano Urruti, Portland Timbers Maximiliano Urruti, Portland Timbers

    Wins in May don’t get much more “must-win” than this one. PDX tops the East’s top team.

  9. Agent: Mario Balotelli “will definitely stay” at Liverpool despite disappointing first season

    May 27, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC

    According to his agent, Balotelli is going nowhere this summer. He’ll stay and fight for his place next season.

  10. FIFA ethics committee bans 11 current, former officials from all football-related activities

    May 27, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    11 current and former officials from around the world have been provisionally banned from all football-related activities.

  11. Men in Blazers podcast: Mourning the end of the season with The True Geordie

    May 27, 2015, 5:23 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Rog and Davo relive the Premier League’s season finale, including squeaky bum time at the bottom of the table.

  12. Sevilla defeat Dnipro, 3-2, to win back-to-back Europa League titles, Champions League place

    May 27, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

    Carlos Bacca, FC Sevilla Getty Images

    It was a thrilling Europa League final. Sevilla are back-to-back Europa League champions, and into next year’s Champions League.

  13. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten forwards

    May 27, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    Aguero Getty Images

    Sergio Aguero was the Premier League’s top goalscorer this season, but was he the best attacker in the league? He has plenty of competition.

  14. Dick Advocaat will not return to Sunderland next season

    May 27, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptlkzmrknjvjnguzzdq0mwrlzti5ztk2otdimda3njkx AP

    After leading the Black Cats to Premier League safety, “The Little General” has announced he won’t return to the Stadium of Light next season.

  15. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten midfielders

    May 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea FC Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea FC

    Goal scorers, goal creators, ball winners, possession destroyers — the list of top-10 midfielders has a little bit of everything.

  16. UEFA calls for postponement of FIFA presidential election, threatens to boycott congress

    May 27, 2015, 2:43 PM EDT

    Michel Platini AP

    “Today’s events are a disaster for FIFA and tarnish the image of football as a whole. “

  17. FIFA president Sepp Blatter releases first statement since overnight arrests

    May 27, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    ISRAEL-FBL-UEFA-EUR-SPORT Getty Images

    The most controversial figure in world soccer has broken his silence.

  18. Ashley Westwood says Arsenal will have “sleepless nights” over Christian Benteke

    May 27, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Everton- Premier League Getty Images

    If Aston Villa wants any shot at beating Arsenal in the FA Cup final this Saturday, Christian Benteke must come up big.

  19. Three things we learned from the US Department of Justice news conference on the FIFA investigation

    May 27, 2015, 1:06 PM EDT

    Loretta Lynch Loretta Lynch

    “This really is the World Cup of fraud, and today we are issuing FIFA a red card.”

  20. QPR is cleaning house: Barton, Ferdinand, Zamora all out at Loftus Road

    May 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Getty Images

    With the Hoops heading down to the Championship, Queens Park Rangers will have a completely new look next season.

Featured video

PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 season