The Vancouver Whitecaps Midfield: who should stay and who should go?November 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2012 | 3 Comments
While some are able to console themselves with the fact the Vancouver Whitecaps made the playoffs in the 2012 season, the Whitecaps were very disappointing as the season went on. The team as it stands now is a poor one that needs to be improved. The team started well, but during the second half of the season we were clearly one of the worst teams in Major League Soccer, when we got a similar number of points as Toronto and Portland, two of the worst teams in the league.
The clear problem for the team is the lack of quality in midfield. Our midfield does not score or create enough goals. Our midfielders were unable to feed our strikers with good passes and crosses, with the result that our strikers withered and died on the vine. Just look at poor Camilo, who scored far fewer goals than in 2011. Last year our top striker scored 12 goals (Camilo) and this year our top striker scored a mere 7 (Mattocks).
One of the signs we do not have enough quality in midfield was the fact Martin Rennie had to rob the back line of its fine left back, Alain Rochat, to try to put some footballing quality in midfield. Playing Rochat out of position did not work, however, (it never has) and proved to be one of Martin Rennie’s coaching blunders in 2012.
Lets look at the midfield players:
Who should stay?
Barry Robson: While Barry hardly endeared himself to Whitecaps fans with his petulence towards his teammates and his occasional laziness in getting back behind the ball, he showed a lot of quality in midfield and he produced offence as well. Robson scored three goals and provided two assists in 17 games, which is not a bad tally for a midfielder. If he were to have a partnership with another quality midfielder, he could produce a lot more goals and assists over the season.
Gershon Koffie: Koffie did what he had to do this year to get better as a midfielder. He was excellent defensively, playing from box to box tirelessly. He scored some goals, 3, and provided 2 assists. He did this playing in almost twice the games Barry Robson did, however. Koffie needs to become more of an offensive threat through passing the ball to create goals, and by shooting better. Two assists is not enough for a central midfielder who is playing so many games. While he needs improvement, he is a keeper, but only if he starts producing more offensive numbers for the team.
On the bubble:
Matt Watson: While Rennie is very loyal to him from their Carolina days, Watson generally did not acquit himself well until the very last game he played in, the playoff game against the LA Galaxy. That game did not convince me completely, but it at least raised the possibility that Watson really is capable of playing football after all. He created our only goal against LA with some fine footballing skills, beating a man, outpacing him and then using the side of his foot to set Mattocks up. Other than this particular game, Watson had the classic Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder stats: no goals and no assists in 15 games played. In most games he just barely kept up with the game, and we need players who can do more than this. I say keep him but let him go early if his quality is not what it was against LA in the playoffs. He is at peak age so it is now or never for him.
Jun Marques Davidson: Davidson is an excellent defensive midfielder, but his season this year demonstrated that he is never a danger to score a goal or to set one up. He played in 24 games yet scored no goals and is credited with no assists. This is quite consistent with his career generally before he came here. He is strictly a win-the-ball-and-give-it-to-someone-else kind of player. If Koffie was scoring or creating goals more this would be fine, but having two guys who can’t create goals through passing in your midfield is a recipe for boring soccer with no offence. Keep him to use him as a sub when we want to kill games when we are leading.
Alain Rochat: Message to Martin Rennie: Rochat does not belong in midfield, he is a natural left back! If Rennie plays Rochat in his correct position, he will create more goals and offence than playing him in midfield. Let the poor guy play in his position.
Who should go?
John Thorrington: While we all love the guy for his effort and his willingness to put his small frame in harm’s way, he has one assist in 30 games for the Vancouver Whitecaps and no goals. The stats don’t lie; we need quality midfielders who will defend, but who can both score and create goals. Time to try someone new with Thorrington’s salary.
Micheal Nanchoff: Nanchoff’s only real benefit is the fact he is left footed. He has no real pace to speak of, he can’t dribble, he does not hold the ball well, nor does he shoot well. He is not able to pass the ball particularly well, nor does he show any signs of being able to create goals for others. Once again, you can’t fault the guy for his effort, but a certain level of quality is necessary to play in Major League Soccer, and he simply does not have it.
To early to say one way or the other:
Bryce Alderson and Russell Teibert. Alderson got no playing time at all, and Teibert’s time was very limited. As with all of our young players, these two will not make the MLS until the Whitecaps are playing their reserves in proper competitive games. Until this happens, they will not be able to bring young Canadian players into the squad with any regularity. A deal with the North American Soccer League needs to be made so these kinds of players can play for NASL clubs so they can get real match experience and be ready when the time comes to step up.
Without a doubt, this year’s Vancouver Whitecaps suffered terribly in midfield after the loss of Davide Chiumiento. Signing a midfielder of his quality in the off season should be priority number one for the Whitecaps.