Skip to content

Major League Soccer team previews: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

Feb 23, 2013, 7:57 PM EST

vancouver_whitecaps

Each day from now until the beginning of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, we will preview one Eastern Conference team and one from the West. First kick is March 2.

No. 7 in the West are the Vancouver Whitecaps:

Significant additions and subtractions: Barry Robson is the biggest “loss.” The Scottish international was brought in as a Designated Player, had the team built around him, but never quite justified the love. It was also unclear he ever warmed to the move, part of the reason he’s now in the third-tier of English soccer.

To partially fill his boots, Vancouver’s brought in 30-year-old Daigo Kobayashi, though the team’s unlikely to rely on him the same way they tried to depend on Robson. With the once-capped midfielder on this fifth team in sixth years, that’s probably a good thing.

Farther back, the team has added Nigel Reo-Coker to their defensive midfield. If Martin Rennie gets good Reo-Coker, the former West Ham, Aston Villa standout will prove a very valuable addition.

Strengths: Vancouver has a number of individuals capable of transcending whatever struggles appear around them. Defenders Jay DeMerit and Lee Young-Pyo are among the best at their positions in the league. Gershon Koffie would be one of the most talked about young players in MLS if he were playing in a different market, while it’s no longer edgy to say Darren Mattocks is set to break out (everybody agrees).

Rennie could change philosophy every 45 minutes, but if those players are on the field, Vancouver have a puncher’s chance.

Pressure points: That starts with Rennie. The Whitecaps’ boss took a chance with the team last year, shifting gears midseason after an unexpectedly strong start. A couple of key trades and the signing of Kenny Miller remade the team for the worse. That mistake needs to turn into a learning experience.

The team also needs to settle into a way to play (a problem that lingers from last year’s makeover), and they need to find somebody to augment Mattocks’ goals. That means playing in a way that gets more production out of Miller and Camilo.

With the acquisition of Reo-Coker pushing Alain Rochat back to left back, the biggest question is in goal. Is it going to be Brad Knighton or Joe Cannon? Knighton seems the right choice, but Cannon is awfully veteran-y.

source:  Difference maker: If Jay DeMerit isn’t the best defender in the league, he might be the most valuable. His experience and talismanic play augment his defending with valuable leadership at a crucial position. The problem is age combined with the specter of nagging injuries, with an Achilles problem hampering his preseason preparations. For a 33-year-old, that type of problem could cause a cascade.

Potential breakout player: No doubt about it: Mattocks (right). On a per minute basis, the guy was already a strong scoring option last year, a season where injuries and rookie adjustments held him back. With Jamaica out of the Gold Cup (and Mattocks no lock to make the team for World Cup Qualifiers), the talented attacker will be at Rennie’s disposal more often.

The question is how much to expect. Break out your TI-85s and do some prorating and it’s not hard to see mid-teens as a reasonable output for Mattocks. That would make him one of the league’s best goal scorers.

Is it too soon for that? Nobody who has watched this kid played would deny the talent. It’s all about how much he plays and whether he has made the adjustments.

If he comes good, Vancouver’s biggest problem is solved. They have a consistent goalscorer.

Bottom line: If the Whitecaps carry over last fall’s form into 2013, they’re not a playoff team. Add in likely improvement from Dallas and Portland, and Vancouver will be hard-pressed to replicate last year’s finish.

(MORE: the entire roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

Latest Posts
  1. Report: USMNT’s Mix Diskerud close to signing with Club Tijuana on free transfer

    Dec 18, 2014, 10:21 PM EST

    Mix Diskerud Mix Diskerud

    Mix Diskerud is on the move, and he may be headed south of the border.

  2. Agent insists Javier Hernandez won’t leave Real Madrid before loan ends

    Dec 18, 2014, 9:14 PM EST

    Javier Hernandez, Real Madrid Javier Hernandez, Real Madrid

    Chicharito isn’t getting games for Real Madrid, but his agent insists he won’t end his loan deal early.

  3. Paul Scholes: Thierry Henry’s legendary goal vs. Man United was my fault

    Dec 18, 2014, 7:46 PM EST

    Paul Scholes and Thierry Henry Paul Scholes and Thierry Henry

    It may be 14 years after the fact, but Paul Scholes is owning up to his fault in one of the greatest goals of all-time.

  4. USWNT rebounds from loss to Brazil, knocks off Argentina, 7-0

    Dec 18, 2014, 6:20 PM EST

    Christen Press, USWNT Christen Press, USWNT

    Inspired by Monday’s loss, the USWNT were out for vengeance — and goals — against Argentina.

  5. Premier League Power Rankings: Arsenal, Everton rising, Saints falling

    Dec 18, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    As we head into the busy festive season, here’s how the rankings of power look before Week 17.

  6. Theo Walcott could return for Arsenal at Liverpool this weekend

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:46 PM EST

    Arsenal Training Session Arsenal Training Session

    Winger set to return to full training, may return to action this Sunday at Anfield.

  7. Final rankings of 2014 released by FIFA, as USA climb one place

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:11 PM EST

    Brazil Soccer WCup Belgium US AP

    Germany end 2014 on top, as the USMNT sit steady inside the top 30.

  8. Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli banned, heavily fined by English FA after offensive post

    Dec 18, 2014, 1:26 PM EST

    Balotelli

    Balotelli will now miss Liverpool’s match against Arsenal this weekend.

  9. Robbie Rogers: FIFA “insane” to host World Cups in Russia, Qatar

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:45 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy

    Rogers worries about anti-gay laws in Russia, Qatar during World Cup tournaments.

  10. Jurgen Klinsmann’s son, Jonathan, stars for US U-18’s but gets red card vs. Germany

    Dec 18, 2014, 11:10 AM EST

    Source: Action Images Source: Action Images

    Klinsmann’s son make six saves, but gets second-yellow as youth side beat Germany.

  11. Soccer stadium approved in Las Vegas, as MLS expansion talk heats up in Sin City

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:50 AM EST

    City of Las Vegas

    Vegas, baby! New soccer stadium gets seal of approval from city council… all they need now is an MLS expansion franchise.

  12. Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus fined $665,000 for driving without a license

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:19 AM EST

    Germany Press Conference & Training Getty Images

    Reus has been speeding around in his Aston Martin without a license. Gets biggest motoring fine in German history.

  13. Ashley Cole might be returning to the Premier League

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:13 PM EST

    AS Roma v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League

    Could Cole be returning to the Premier League?

Featured video

Man United thrash Liverpool