More questions than answers for Whitecaps 2014 first kick

March 3, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment

We are less than one week away from the start of the 2014 season and no clear pattern has emerged with respect to how the Vancouver Whitecaps will play, who in particular will play, and how successful the team is likely to be.  The pre-season Rose City invitational tournament in Portland was positive. The Whitecaps won the tournament by beating San Jose, Portmore United and tying the tough Portland Timbers 1-1. 

The match against the Timbers demonstrated there is still some pre-season rust on the team as veterans O’Brien and Ousted made bad errors.  Ousted’s fumble of Will Johnson’s tricky free kick looked like something that should happen six weeks before the beginning of the season rather than one week before.

Given the Whitecaps are re-inventing themselves yet again under their fourth coach in their fourth year, there is a kind of chaos about the team and no clear first team leaps out at you to start the Whitecaps fourth MLS season.  Given the re-tooling of the squad, Whitecaps fans will have to be patient as Robinson finds out who his starting eleven actually are.  Will he be conservative and start all of the players he knows and trusts from last year, or will he roll the dice and play the team he feels is his first eleven right from the start?  

Football is a conservative game, and I expect Robinson to start with known commodities and then add in new players gradually through substations as the early season matches are played.

Robbo will have four new Latin American players at his disposal: Matias Laba, Seba Fernadez, Nico Mezquida, and, perhaps, Pedro Morales.  These players may well change the way the Whitecaps play the game radically.  We know that Robbo would like his team to be able to play the ball along the ground from back to front.  The prospect of seeing the Whitecaps play some nice football with some Latin American flair is very exciting indeed.  

I have had a try at predicting the starting eleven, but I get flumoxed every time I try. Whatever team Robinson starts, there are going to be a lot of disappointed players come post match Saturday night. In reviewing the squad there is intense competition in almost every spot, with the exception being Beitashour at right back, who appears unchallenged. Virtually all players in the squad will know there is another fellow behind him who might just take their spot if their form is off. This is good for the Whitecaps, but will test the management skill of Robinson, who must now motivate players who don’t play to keep trying.

Robinson has already disciplined Omar Salgado for sulking when he was substituted in the Portland tournament against San Jose: he was left out of the squad for the last match pre-season match against Portland.

With only five days to go until kickoff, I am already bursting with anticipation to see Carl Robinson’s coaching debut. I am dying to know how he will answer the many questions I have of what appears to be a talented and competitive squad.

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