Team Guides - 2017 - Manneh 1600x1200

Vancouver Whitecaps


Author: Ben Couch  |  Cover illustration by Duane Tomaszewski


Entering the 2016 season with elevated expectations, a slow start turned into a midseason swoon for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who ultimately finished eighth in the West, seven points below the red line. The 'Caps continued a long-barren search for finishing up top, compounded by the July loss of top talent Kekuta Manneh to a knee injury. And yet, for his firm handle on creating a culture matching ownership's vision, head coach Carl Robinson was extended through 2020. Bet on progress, but it's going to have to be collective – coach included – if the Whitecaps are to rise toward the Western Conference's peak.


Key Offseason Transactions


KEY PLAYERS IN:KEY PLAYERS OUT:
Fredy Montero (F)
Yordy Reyna (M)
Sheanon Williams (D) All transactions
Pedro Morales (M)
Blas Perez (M)
Masato Kudo (F)
Fraser Aird (D)


Player to watch: Kekuta Manneh


The speedy Gambia native – whose US passport is officially on the way – had his season end in July due to foot surgery, always a concern for players gifted with exceptional athleticism. But he remains one of the league's most exciting young stars, and has already banked four-plus seasons despite not yet reaching his 22nd birthday. We're going to name the 24 Under 24 Top 5 after this kid one day.



How they'll play


HEAD COACH - CARL ROBINSON


With key additions up front, if the 'Caps can finally get the finishing touches, they'll be able to slice and dice opposing defenses, 1-v-1 or with off-ball action. Expect Route One bombs from the back.


Projected Starting XI

Vancouver Whitecaps | 2017 Team Guide -

4-2-3-1, right to left: David Ousted (GK) — Jordan Harvey (D), Tim Parker (D), Kendall Waston (D), Sheanon Williams (D) — Matias Laba (M), Russell Teibert (M) — Brek Shea (M), Kekuta Manneh (M), Christian Bolaños (M) – Fredy Montero (F)


Projected Finish


9th in Western Conference. After identifying the attacking combo they think will (finally) put the balls in the back of the net, it's time for theory to translate to the pitch for big-ticket additions Fredy Montero and Yordy Reyna, the latter of whom will start the season on delay after an unfortunate preseason injury. The ifs begin with offense and end with continued development of individuals, most notably the ascendant 16-year-old prodigy Alphonso Davies. Robinson might not be coaching for his job this season, but the expectations – there's that word again – are that the arrow starts pointing North(west).



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