Time for the final team preview here (you can view all season previews at this link). Last up are the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Martin Rennie got his club to be the first Canadian club to reach the MLS playoffs last year. Though one could say they stumbled their way into the playoffs, the Whitecaps had a pretty solid 2012 season.
As long as the Whitecaps do not do what they did in the middle of the summer and re-do their roster, they should be fine with some of these new additions for 2013. Their defense is still stout but has the offense had enough time to get better for the new season? Let’s find out.
2012 MLS Record: 11-13-10 (5th in Western Conference), 43 points
F Paulo Jr. (12/14/12 – Re-Entry Draft Stage 2)
D Brad Rusin (1/11/13 – transfer from HB Køge)
F Kekuta Manneh (1/17/13 – SuperDraft)
F Corey Hertzog (1/23/13 – free)
F Tommy Heinemann (1/23/13 – free)
M Daigo Kobayashi (1/28/13 – free)
D Johnny Leverón (2/19/13 – free)
D/M Nigel Reo-Coker (2/21/13 – first right of refusal from Portland)
GK Brian Sylvestre (11/8/12 – option declined)
M Tiago Ulisses (11/8/12 – option declined)
F Etienne Barbara (11/8/12 – option declined)
M Michael Nanchoff (12/3/12 – option declined)
M John Thorrington (12/3/12 – option declined)
M/F Atiba Harris (12/3/12 – traded to Colorado)
M Barry Robson (1/21/13 – contract terminated)
D Martín Bonjour (1/25/13 – waived)
M Michael Nanchoff (2/13/12 – trade to Portland)
Key Questions for 2013
1. Is there enough power up front? We know Darren Mattocks is ready to lead this club on offense. The second year star has shown enough quality over the last year to lead me to believe he is ready to take that next step in MLS. But he won’t be enough for the long haul. Newcomer Diago Kobayashi has the resume to help out but will his game translate well in MLS? Vancouver also added a slew of speedsters this winter too making them one of the quicker teams up front in MLS. Still, there is a lot of unproven items in this attack. Also, can Kenny Miller actually be a DP worthy striker? I’m not holding my breath on that one.
2. How will the midfield shake out? Kobayashi will likely lead the attacking portion of the midfield with Alain Rochat in a defensive role. It will be interesting to see how Rochat and Nigel Reo-Coker are used in the midfield as well. They’ll likely be a two man group in front of the back four and behind Kobayashi. As long as those three hold the ball well and keep the pressure off the defense, this team will progress in 2013. But if injuries creep in, I’m not convinced there is enough depth behind these three to be solid for 34+ games.
3. Will Camilo return to his 2011 form? I think one wildcard in this bunch is Camilo, not Kenny Miller. Should Vancouver be a playoff team again, in my mind, it comes down to how well Camilo plays this season. I think he needs to be a Best XI type player to guide this team to the playoffs. With so many questions marks about the Whitecaps attack, if Camilo can quiet critics early in the season and help set up Mattocks and rookie Ketuka Mannah, I think we’ll see a contender out of this club in the long run.
Breakout Player for 2013
Darren Mattocks – This was a bit of an easy pick for me. He is going into his second year and he already is talking big. Like 20 goals big. I like confidence in a young player and if anything Mattocks is a guy that can back it up.
Predictions for 2013
- One DP will be added in the summer. Whitecaps fans will be holding their breath during the summer transfer window after last year. Too many moves nearly derailed their season but I think they’ll make one big move in the summer that helps them out more than hurts.
- Rennie will be an dark horse for COY. Yeah, I said it. I like Rennie. I think he’s an underrated coach already in this league and like I’ve mentioned before, as long as they don’t blow up the roster in the middle of the year, he will get this club back to the playoffs.
- They’ll do well in the CCL. I think we’ll see a slight changing of the guard in Canada this year with Vancouver winning the Canadian Cup. I don’t know if they’ll have the depth to win their group (odds are they’ll be a with a Mexican team) but I do see them showing up well.