Still worried about depth in Whitecaps midfield

February 8, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 1 Comment

I still am anxious about the centre of the Whitecaps midfield. Virtually all successful teams have an experienced veteran in midfield who can read the game. Previous successful incarnations of the Vancouver Whitecaps have had this element. Those of us old enough to remember the 1979 Whitecaps will recall that Alan Ball’s mid season transfer from the Philedelphia Fury was the element that took that year’s Whitecaps all the way to the Championship. In more recent history, Martin Nash was key to championship campaigns in 2006 and 2008. Look at Paul Scholes at Manchester United.

Gershon Koffie will work like a dog and defend from box to box, but his understanding of the game, especially on he offensive side of things, is still immature. It looks like the Whitecaps are putting a lot of hope in Daigo Kobayashi, their new central midfielder. Kobayashi looks good in the clips that are available over the internet, but the fact is he has not played that much in the last four years, although he seems to have recovered a bit in the last two in Japan. He spent two seasons in Greece prior to this and only made 14 appearances. Apparently he has been dogged by a hip injury, which is not good news when you consider he will be playing all home games on fieldturf, which is notoriously bad for player’s bodies. Put this factor together with the very hard physical nature of Major League Soccer and you get a risky proposition.

If Kobayashi can stay fit, however, we may have a bit of a prize on our hands. He is 29 years of age, which is still prime time for a midfielder. This means he should be able to cover more ground than Barry Robson, who was 35 years old during his time here. Kobayashi’s old teammate Jun Marques Davidson says his technical skills are superior.

Even if Kobayashi pans out, does he bring the kind of experience, toughness and tactical knowledge of a Barry Robson? My guess is no. The fact is our midfield, which was low on creativity and skill going forward last year still looks a little on the light weight side. This means Rennie may call upon Alain Rochat, who is best suited as a left back, to play in midfield again. In my view this is a mistake as Rochat is a superior left back who should play in his best position. Frankly, he is just not that great as a midfielder.

I see that Shalrie Joseph is available. Joseph is a proven MLS midfielder who has been a star performer in the past. He is without a team since Chivas USA cut him loose, and he is now practicing with the Seattle Sounders. I say the Whitecaps should get a their hands on him, even if he is a bit past his best and may be demanding a high price. He knows how to play in the MLS at a high level, is very big and physical, and would give us the skill and experience we need in midfield. I know I am dreaming, but I would love to have him in our squad.

Get on the phone, Martin Rennie!

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  1. Whitecaps in discussion with the portland timbers, as to who owns the discovery rights to Nigel Reo-Coker.


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