The Whitecaps Strikers: who stay and who should go?

November 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2012 | 3 Comments

Judging a this year’s Vancouver Whitecaps front men is a very difficult job because the rest of our team was so poor at getting the ball to them in positions where they could score. All too often during the 2012 season Eric Hassli or Kenny Miller would receive the ball 30 yards from goal, too far away to cause any damage. We want to get our strikers the ball between eight and twenty yards from the other team’s goal. If we don’t provide crosses into the box from deep positions, our strikers have very little chance to score.

The consequence of this was that our top striker, Darren Mattocks, scored only 7 goals. Contrast this with the top striker in MLS, Chris Wondolowski, who had 27 goals. Camilo, who scored 12 goals last year, only scored 5 this year. Though he only played a partial season, Kenny Miller only scored 2 goals.

The good news is that if we to manage to move the ball upfield into deep positions, we have plenty of talent to put the ball away. I can’t say that any of our strikers should be disposed of. All of them should stay.

Darren Mattocks: this guy was the revelation of the Whitecaps 2012 season. Early on this season he looked like a bit of a clown with his bragging about how good he was and then seriously injuring himself in a dreadful cooking accident. When he recovered from his burns, things looked up when he made an appearance as a sub against Edmonton FC and potted a goal. His first start at home was against the Seattle Sounders, and he again looked a bit of a fool by squandering a number of golden opportunities that would have won the game for us.

Keep ’em both!!!

After these early misadventures Mattocks went on a tear, scoring some spectacular goals, and striking terror into the hearts of slow MLS defenders with his blinding speed. His disciplinary record got in the way of things, however, and he got sent off more times this season than some players do in their whole career. He needs to learn that if he is not on the pitch, he can’t score. Once he understands this and works on making his touch in the box better, Mattocks could be one of the best strikers in the MLS. A definite keeper.

Camilo: while he tends to sulk when he doesn’t play, and tends to hog the ball from his teammates, Camilo has one thing most of his Whitecaps teammates do not possess: football skills. Camilo can do it all, and is especially dangerous in dead ball situations. He can score with either foot, and, despite his tiny size, he can score with his head as well. The other thing that is a benefit is his toughness. Camilo plays like a large man and throws his body into tackles with a vengeance. With his sulky ways, there is some doubt as to whether his nose will be out of joint because he was not played in the playoff match against LA. Something tells me he will be on his bike in the offseason, but I hope not. He should be kept on.

Kenny Miller: I think virtually every Whitecaps fan (including myself) was baying for his blood at the end of the season after what was perceived as a bunch of substandard performances, but Miller came in to the team at a disadvantage. First of all he needed to adapt to the bizarre plastic pitch at BC Place, which clearly confused him in the first few matches he played. He was not match fit when he arrived, having been on a long layoff from English football. He had to adapt to a team that was already playing very poorly before he even showed up. He had a couple of embarrassing misses in the matches he played in, which demonstrated that he was just not fit or sharp enough to put the ball away in full competitive matches. While my view is that good footballers are always good footballers, Miller should be given the chance to get fit with the team and to get into the rhythm of a season with the rest of the squad before the final judgments come in. If Miller does not perform well early next season, however, it really is time to get rid of him. One thing that is clear is that Miller is not the quality of striker to be paid what he is being paid. Time for a major pay cut.

Omar Salgado: Salgado’s season was ruined when he was crocked during the home match against Seattle in May, a match in which he played tremendously well. Next season will be crucial for him, and he will need to show that the hype about him has been justified by scoring goals. In order for him to shine, however, the Whitecaps will need to get some crosses into the box. While Rennie played him out of position as a winger, (Rennie tends to make this mistake again and again), he really is meant to be a striker. He made a brief appearance late in the season against Portland, but looked out of shape and the sharpness necessary to play at this level was not there. He needs to train hard in the off season with another club, or get some more games in somehow. Match experience is key for this guy, and a deal with an NASL club to get him some playing time is essential so he stands a chance in the MLS. Lets keep him and hope he has a big breakthrough year next season.

Atiba Harris: Poor Atiba has had dreadful luck with injuries both in 2011 and 2012. Knee injuries have stopped him from getting any kind of serious time on the pitch which makes it very hard to judge him. We know he is capable, as his early 2011 form demonstrated. The sad thing about injuries is that not only does the injury have to heal but the player must play matches to get fit again, and often they are vulnerable to further injury because they are not fully fit. It can be a vicious cycle, and the Whitecaps need to consider whether it is worth investing the time and energy into a player that may never be able to get back to the MLS level again. Is it best to cut him loose and let another team take this risk? I’d hate to say. Football is brutal game, especially for the injured player. One thing is for sure, from an emotional perspective, I’d love to see the Whitecaps keep him on and try to get him back into full form.

Caleb Clarke: If any player coming through the Whitecaps youth system has a chance to become a starter for the Whitecaps in the MLS, it is this guy. He is perfectly built to play striker, and looked like the real deal in the brief time that he had to play for the first team. It was good judgement for Martin Rennie to give him a taste of MLS action, because if Clarke wants it, he could have a great career as a professional footballer. The question is, can the Whitecaps youth system develop this guy into a professional footballer without a proper reserve league? As I keep saying, young players like Clarke need regular high quality match experience so they are ready when the chance comes to show their stuff at the top level. The best thing for Clarke would be to loan him out to an NASL team so he can get some proper competitive games in.

Come on MLS and NASL, make that deal!



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  1. that was almost an entire article devoid of negative comments. well done. no but seriously I disagree with Harris. Harris is like communism. In theory it sounds brilliant, but in practice it just doesn’t work. Harris is strong and quick, ideal physical traits for a striker. Unfortunately the Carribean cinder block lacks football skills. he can’t beat players, he has the first touch of a baby elephant, he cant cross, and his finishing isn’t even worthy of the Columbian 3rd division.

  2. any truth to rumor that caps looking to sign 22 year old striker paddy madden from yeovil town fc?

  3. Atiba Harris….sorry had his chance had to go. Kenny Miller the Mustafa Jarju of 2012….runs like he has a rod up his bum (when he runs which is rarely)…he can join tom soehn in the land of misfit boys.

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