MLS ’11 Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Stadium and Location
Coach (with record as MLS coach)
Teitur Thordarson (ICE)
2010 LEAGUE RESULTS: 2nd in NASL conference 5th overall.
2010 REVIEW: A strong finish in the conference saw them finish behind the eventual league winners the Carolina Railhawks.
Their playoff campaign ended in the semi-finals with a bitter extra-time loss to the Puertan Rican Islanders. A 0-0 in the first leg saw a repeat in the return fixture which took the game into extra time. A double from former DC United forward Nicholas Addlery sealed the victory and with it a final place for the Islanders.
ROSTER ADDITIONS: Much like Portland Timbers, it’s all change for Vancouver with a host of new faces. Jay DeMerit was acquired through the allocation ranking on a free transfer and he also takes the captains armband for the season.
Seattle Sounders Sanna Nyassi moves north from Seattle along with team-mates Nathan Sturgis. The latter of whom was later shipped across Canada to join Toronto FC for a first round draft pick.
Winger Atiba harris moves from MLS Cup finalists Dallas while experienced goalkeeper joins from the San Jose Earthquakes to give experience in goal. Philadelphia duo Alejandro Moreno and Shea Salinas also moved to Vancouver.
O’Brian White joined from fellow Canadian side Toronto FC and Jonathan Leathers moves from Sporting Kansas. John Thorrington moved from Chicago Alan Gordon all be it for a short time moved from Chivas USA.
Alain Rochet joined from FC Zurich along with Frenchman Eric Hassli and exciting propsect Omar Salgado moved through the Superdraft. From the USSF DIV 2 side Vancouver chose to take Jay Nolly, Wes Knight, Canadians Philippe Davies Greg Janicki and Terry Dunfield, Nizar Khaflan Gershon Koffie and onetime Juventus youngster Davide Chiumiento. Blake Wagner a one time FC Dallas defender and Long Tan complete the summer’s acquisitions.
With some still in camp don’t be too surprised to see a late move for Brazilian forward Camilo.
ROSTER SUBTRACTIONS: Only 5 left Vancouver and they were all recent additions. Alan Gordon and Alejandro Moreno moved to Chivas USA.
Gambian Nyassi was allowed to join league champions Colorado and O’Brian White joined Seattle.
Youngster Nathan Sturgis was moved to Toronto FC for a draft pick in the 2011 Superdraft.
PROJECTED STARTERS: A 4-4-2 was last year’s formation but they have tried a 4-2-3-1 in pre-season.
FORWARDS: If they go with the 4-2-3-1 it’s all up to Hassli on his own up front, the 6ft 4 forward is technically gifted with a strong right foot so fingers crossed he starts strong.
MIDFIELD: Salinas and Harris will operate out wide for Vancouver with Chiuemiento in the middle playing the advanced playmaker role. Dunfield and Thorrington who started their careers at the two Manchester clubs will hold back providing protection for the back four. If they go 4-4-2 expect Chiuemiento to play further up and the midfield to go to a flat four.
DEFENSE AND GOAL: Joe Cannon will take up the goalie position you would hope, ahead of him is Twitter buddy Jay DeMerit. It looks likely they will sign Mouloud Akloul to partner him with Swiss signing Rochat on the left and Wes Knight on the right supplementing the attacks.
KEY PLAYER: It’s between DeMerit and Hassli in my opinion. An experienced leader and good captain can be the foundations of a good side, just ask Jose Mourinho. Hassli on the other hand is likely to be the pinnacle of Vancouver’s attack. It’s naive to say if he doesn’t score they won’t but it won’t be too far from the truth.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Davide Chiuemiento. The club rave about the Swiss midfielder but reports from VC fans say he looked poor last year the club attributing that to poor fitness. I also read reports they are currently in Europe searching for a player of similar ilk to Chiuemiento which is good. If he can perform the way the club seem to think he could be a great cog in the side, early signs are good considering the coaches switch to 4-2-3-1 to allow him more freedom.
OUTLOOK: It’s difficult to tell really. If I could I’d leave this blank as there are too many “What if’s”. They have a good backing fan wise, yet as I mentioned above the lack of striking options is a concern, with only 3 signed up strikers. The addition of Brazilian Camilo would be good but would require a change in system to two up front.
I think they may struggle not defensively but offensively, meaning they won’t get hammered but they’ll lose more games by the odd goal. After all the West does look really stacked in quality.
PREDICTION: 30 pts 9th.