Vancouver Whitecaps FC
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC (VAN)
- Western Conference
- Home: BC Place
- Canadian Championship: 2015
Every club wants to score more goals. The Vancouver Whitecaps' desire to take that next step from Supporters' Shield challengers to MLS Cup contenders could depend on it.
Increasing the 'Caps goalscoring hasn't quite been Carl Robinson's raison d'être these past two offseasons, but it has certainly occupied a lot of his time while seeking the right personnel to build on an already stout defense, which allowed the fewest goals of any unit in the league.
Vancouver's latest additions all offer attacking threats and formation options, but there's no point in creating a slew of chances if you're not going to take them. That's been the 'Caps downfall the last two years; they are confident this year will be different.
Forward Masato Kudo
Two new strikers have come in, not to replace DP Octavio Rivero, but to compliment him. Both have a proven goalscoring track record, Blas Perez in MLS and Masato Kudo in Japan, and offer qualities the Whitecaps lacked last year – a danger inside the box and an aerial threat.
Vancouver's attacking threat will come from all over the pitch. The addition of Costa Rican World Cup veteran Christian Bolanos playing alongside Pedro Morales in midfield offers an exciting prospect of sublime passes. And expect Robinson to have both full backs attacking more frequently.
The creativity of the Whitecaps is potentially mouthwatering. But we've seen that before. They need to finish. Too often last season, crosses were whipped in with no Whitecap able to bury them, while Rivero was forced to do a lot of his work outside of the area.
Vancouver will be hoping their new additions now give them that consistency they crave in front of goal. Whether they will – and whether they can – actually play together as a fully functioning attacking unit, that will be determined on the field.
Armchair Analyst's Take
The Whitecaps are basically mirror images of presumptive Western Conference favorites FC Dallas. They’ve got the young head coach with franchise ties (Robinson), they’ve got the brilliant-but-oft-injured playmaker (Morales), they’ve got the academy that spits out talent at an absolutely delightful rate, and they’ve got the livewire winger who simply murders folks in space (Kekuta Manneh).
And like Dallas, they have memories of a playoff run that came to an abrupt ending thanks to a lack of finishing. Robinson thinks that Rivero will improve upon his debut season just by being acclimated (I agree), but he went out and got both Kudo and Perez just in case. He also got more young depth on the back line (Fraser Aird & Cole Seiler) and more veteran depth in midfield (Bolanos).
The one thing they have that Dallas lacks? Experience winning a title. Lots of Yanks tend to forget that the Canadian Championship exists, but it does and Vancouver won it pretty convincingly. Getting a taste of that is a huge step for a mostly young group, and feels like something they’re ready to build upon.
Key Offseason Transactions
KEY PLAYERS IN:
KEY PLAYERS OUT:
Fraser Aird<br> Christian Bolanos<br> Masato Kudo<br><a class="small" href="//www.mlssoccer.com/topic/transactions">All transactions</a>
Steven Beitashour<br> Gershon Koffie<br> Mauro Rosales
Player to Watch: Cristian Techera
His loan now converted to a transfer, speedy midfielder Techera presents a dangerous combination when synced up with offensive-minded Manneh.
Ousted; Aird-Waston - Parker - Adekugbe; Teibert - Laba; Techera - Morales - Manneh; Rivero
Many of Vancouver’s top players just didn’t put up the anticipated fantasy numbers last year, so feel free to experiment with some of their new additions like Blas Perez ($7.0m), who could challenge for the top forward spot. If you prefer a more familiar names, then start with Matias Laba ($7.5m) who could benefit from the new point system, and last year’s top 'keeper David Ousted ($6.0m).
- Tim Parker
- Christian Bolanos
- Masato Kudo