This week the Whitecaps made room in their roster for their incoming coach, whoever that may be. Right now the names of Bradley and Kreis seem to have taken on a distinct prominence. I should be careful because I had predicted wrongly that Frank Yallop would be in charge, but I think the Whitecaps owners have come to their senses and realized if they want success in Major League Soccer they had better splash out the cash and get a real coach for their team. While some say Carl Robinson is in the running I don’t think this is a real possibility. It is too soon in his career.
Today the club made the following announcement:
The club also announced that it has declined the options for goalkeepers Joe Cannon, Brad Knighton, and Simon Thomas, defender Brad Rusin, midfielders Jun Marques Davidson and Daigo Kobayashi, as well as strikers Tommy Heinemann and Corey Hertzog.
Eight guys gone just like that. One has to presume the Whitecaps have asked their serious coach contenders who they would keep and who they would axe.
Whoever made the decision did so wisely for the most part, with a few exceptions. While Davidson is not the most spectacular of players, he does play his role well and consistently too. Perhaps the club felt Gershon Koffie can do the same job but also can score goals as well. Davidson hit the post once in his two years here, while Koffie has scored six goals in the same time period.
Brad Knighton is an odd case considering the fact his performance against the Seattle Sounders in the 2-0 home win was arguably the best performance of the season by a player in a Vancouver Whitecaps jersey. His only bad error was to storm off to the dressing room once the final whistle blew after the Whitecaps conceded a late goal in a match the team won. Perhaps there is an attitude problem there. Of our three goalkeepers, I would say he was the most consistent in quality. My guess is the team might pick him up again in the draft of released players.
Daigo Kobayashi was perhaps the biggest disappointment of this year. He never really looked competitive or physical enough to play in MLS.
We never got to see Simon Thomas play, and Rusin, Herzog, and Heinemann were all good players, but they did not set the world or the fans on fire with their play.
The one that really hurts is Joe Cannon, who has proven to be one of the most likeable and charismatic players of the Whitecaps MLS era. Cannon’s honesty and humour have always been refreshing, even if his occasional daft goalkeeping gaffes were not. Cannon reminded me of Whitecaps legend Bruce Grobbelaar, who could make brilliant saves one minute and stunning gaffes the next. Joe made some absolutely fantastic saves during his time here, and he was playing very well indeed when he was inexplicably bundled out of the net by Martin Rennie in favour of Brad Knighton. Joe’s kicking skills were substandard, but all other aspects of his game were pretty solid.
I hope Cannon gets picked up again by the Whitecaps in one of the many drafts the MLS holds every year, but I fear it is the end of the road for Cannon in our town. The sad thing is that we fans would like the opportunity to applaud the man who won our hearts, but we don’t look like getting the chance.
Tags: Jermain Defoe, major league soccer, MLS, Toronto FC
I never thought I would say it, but if what I am reading is right, I am jealous of TFC. Jermain Defoe has signed with them. Defoe started as a youngster with my favourite English club, West Ham United. I saw him score for West Ham against Chelsea in a 3-2 win back in 2002 when I visited England. He is and has been one of the most gifted and skilled English footballers of his generation. His talents have been wasted at Tottenham, where his skills have been parked on the bench. I think it is a scandal that he has not been playing first team football.
Now he will be playing in Major League Soccer for his old teammate Ryan Nelson, who currently coaches TFC. It is good news for MLS. While Defoe is not exactly a spring chicken any more, he will be one of the top 5 players in the league.
All I can say is I wish he had signed with the Whitecaps!
Tags: Don Garber, Major League Soccer Expansion, MLS expansion, Orlando City SC
Yesterday Orlando City SC was announced as Major League Soccer’s 21st franchise. Orlando has been very successfully working away in the USL, the third tier of North American football. It is reported they enjoy 9,000 or so fans every match even at that level. This is good news because it shows that people in the State of Florida are desperate for football and want to support a team. Ten years or so ago, MLS was forced to contract two Florida teams, those being the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the Miami Fusion. Now, Florida entrepreneurs obviously feel that they can run an MLS franchise and make it profitable in the years to come.
My only fear is that under the current salary cap system, which caps spending on players at 2.8 million or so, expansion will mean a dilution of talent in MLS overall.
As things stand, you don’t have to scratch very far below the surface of any MLS team’s starting 11 (including my own team the Vancouver Whitecaps) before you get to some very mediocre footballers who are not really worth paying to watch. Whenever the MLS schedule clashes with international fixtures, meaning star players are absent from MLS matches, the quality of players on the pitch often takes a distinct dive to the point where we may as well be watching a second tier NASL game.
If MLS is to have 24 teams in the future, as is stated, how will this benefit the fans of already existing teams? What is the plan to address the often poor level of quality of the squad players in the league?
One solution is to dramatically raise the salary cap in the next collective bargaining round in order to allow MLS to recruit and retain quality players. This will stop good young American and Canadian players from going over to Europe to play in lower leagues for more money because their payday in MLS is so poor. Raising the salary cap must be done in such a way that it attracts quality new players rather than giving the already existing mediocre players a pay raise, however.
One thing I do not want as a fan is for MLS to mimic the huge and bloated MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL. The dilution of talent that has resulted in those leagues from too many teams makes the great majority of games in those leagues not worth watching. Putting excellence on the pitch is what will make people keep on paying to see MLS Soccer games.
Don Garber has been very smart in learning the lessons and avoiding the mistakes of the old NASL, (which folded in 1984), but surely he must recall the fact that the old NASL folded, in large part, because of over-aggressive expansion which led to a dilution of talent and poor quality football which people did not want to watch. In effect, expansion led to boredom for the fans of the old NASL.
While MLS is growing rapidly, my belief is that under-performing franchises such as Chivas USA, whose marketing plan has been a complete and massive failure, should be folded, in order to keep the quality of players, and franchises, at a high level. The attendance figures last year at Chivas USA home games were an embarrassment to MLS.
Don Garber surely must have plan to improve the quality of players in MLS team’s squads. If he does not, the expansion of MLS from the current 19 teams playing to the planned 24 could be the bubble that bursts the league.
Darren Mattocks’recent diatribe against the Whitecaps on Jamaican television comes as no surprise. Even if his play was poor in 2013, Mattocks still thinks himself to be god’s gift to football; he is not.
Mattocks has feet of cement where his football touch is concerned. His passing and off-the-ball movement are poor, and he has only recently adopted an attitude that he has a role to play in defending.
To say that Mattocks has a swell head would be an understatement. He has complained that he should have been the first draft pick in the MLS draft (he was taken second). He credits himself with leading the Whitecaps in 2012. He had the most goals but he was no leader.
It is true that Mattocks was a revelation and showed great promise in 2012. We all had high hopes for him to lead the team in 2013. In 2013 he was a real disappointment. He got plenty of starts at the beginning of the 2013 but scored only one goal. He then typically came in off the bench. True, he did need to miss games due to injury, and he did score one crucial goal to help us beat Seattle at home, but he only scored three goals this season.
The fact is that Mattocks got plenty of opportunity to contribute in 2013 but his play was poor: he slipped from being our presumptive top striker to being a distant fourth by the end of the season. He had no one to blame but himself: the other guys (Miller, Camilo and Manneh) were better. He was so poor he was reduced to being a substitute behind newbie Cory Hertzog for a number of games.
The Whitecaps actually played football this year, meaning the “Hail Mary” pass over the top for Mattocks to run on to was not the only play the team had up its sleeve. Because of this, Mattocks sulked while the team passed the ball around him. He did not seem to know what to do, nor did he seem to want to be a part of it.
The Whitecaps will soon find out from MLS whether Mattocks’ salary, which is in excess of 200,000, is to be counted against the Whitecap’s salary cap. By his performance this year, it is safe to say that paying more than $200,000 to a guy with a bad attitude playing poor football is not worth it.
If Mattocks’ salary is to be counted against the salary cap, the Whitecap’s money is better spent elsewhere. Unless we get him for free (meaning his salary does not count against the salary cap), it is time to unload him.