Whitecaps FC: New season, new team

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Pedro Morales

A new season is upon us ‘Caps fans and there’s good reason to be excited.

The Carl Robinson era officially began on Saturday as a new look version of your Vancouver Whitecaps took to the pitch at B.C. Place Stadium against the visiting Henry-less New York Red Bulls. Yes, Red Bull superstar Thierry Henry boycotted Vancouver once again for turf-related reasons. It seems that someone may be afraid of the fake stuff?

The ‘Caps easily cruised to a 4-1 victory.

Whitecaps F.C. came into this season with the disappointing result of failing to qualify for the MLS Playoffs last year coupled with the loss of their leading goal-scorer and MLS Golden Boot winner, Camilo, who forced a move to Mexican side Queretaro F.C. this past off-season. However, don’t let that make you think all hope is lost for this season as there are goals to be had in this squad.

Let’s meet the team

Who’s Out

  • Y.P. Lee – retired at the end of the 2013 season
  • Camilo Sanvezzo – Sold to Queretaro F.C.
  • Daigo Kobayashi – Traded to New England Revolution for a fourth-round draft pick in 2016
  • Matt Watson – Traded to Chicago Fire for a International roster spot
  • Jun Marques Davidson – Whitecaps declined option
  • Joe Cannon- Whitecaps declined option
  • Brad Knighton – Whitecaps declined option
  • Brad Rusin – Whitecaps declined option
  • Corey Hertzog – Whitecaps declined option
  • Tom Heinemann – Whitecaps declined option

Who’s In

  • Steven Beitashour – Acquired from San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for allocation money (undisclosed)
  • Matias Laba – Acquired from Toronto F.C. in exchange for future considerations
  • Pedro Morales – Acquired from Malaga C.F. on a free transfer
  • Mehdi Balloucy – Acquired through MLS re-entry draft
  • Sebastian Fernandez – Acquired from Uruguyan side Boston River on a one-year loan with a transfer option to buy
  • Nicolas Mezquida – Acquired on an International transfer from Uruguyan side Boston River
  • Ethen Sampson – Signed from Whitecaps F.C. U-23 team
  • Paolo Tornaghi – Signed as a free agent from Chicago Fire
  • Christian Dean – Acquired via 2014 MLS SuperDraft third overall selection

Defence

With Christian Dean, Jay DeMerit, Andy O’Brien, Ethen Sampson, Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour, you get power, pace and tenacity. Simple.

Midfield and Forwards

With the attacking and attractive brand of football that the new gaffer, Carl Robinson, wants his team to embody, you can expect the midfield to push the pace forward and to continue to create gaps within the opposition’s back four. Robbo has brought in the type of players to play this brand of football to a tee. Take the fluidity and flair of young Uruguyan’s Sebastian Fernandez and Nicolas Mezquida and the vision and creativity of Chilean international Pedro Morales for example, all were on full display during the season-opener against the Red Bull.

Mix in these guys with speedsters Darren Mattocks, Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado, not to mention the movement and finishing ability of Kenny Miller and Vancouver has the potential to have the most dynamic attack in the MLS.

However, a football match is won and lost in the centre of the park, where keeping possession and aiding in defence is crucial. For the last two seasons, the Whitecaps have had decent success with the players they have put in central defending roles. Jun Marques Davidson was inconsistent but played the role well at times. This year their depth at that position is unmatched, so much so that young-starlet Gershon Koffie might find it difficult to find regular playing time.

Matias Laba and Nigel Reo-Coker got the starts in the centre against New York and boy was it a joy to see Reo-Coker make those powerful runs forward. That’s something that was missing from the Whitecaps lineup all of last season. There was no real push from the midfield and instead the majority of the goals were created and finished by Camilo.

Now with Laba anchoring the back of the midfield in a more defensive role, expect to see a lot more of Reo-Coker bursting forward, finding gaps in the opposition’s defence and drawing defenders towards him to free up his teammates.

For all you English footy fanatics, this years Whitecaps F.C. team has all the makings of replicating the style of Liverpool F.C. Think of Jay DeMerit as Jamie Carragher, Matias Laba and Nigel Reo-Coker as Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson, Pedro Morales, Sebastian Fernandez and Nicolas Mezquida as Philippe Coutinho, Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks as possessing some Daniel Sturridge-like qualities and perhaps Carl Robinson as Brendan Rodgers. Not bad comparisons at all.

It may only be one game, but it’s hard to ignore the talent and quality that has been injected into the team this year which has altered the way they attack.

Possessive, attacking and attractive football is a main belief of Whitecaps F.C. and pass and move is the key to it’s success.

Highlights of the season-opener

 

Here’s what head coach Carl Robinson had to say post-game

 

 

Image: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports

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Ryan Lehal Sports Columnist. Kwantlen Journalism Grad.
@ryan19l

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