Nigel Reo-Coker: a tale of two seasons

August 28, 2014 at 9:55 pm | Posted in Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment

I had the good fortune to run into none other than Nigel Reo-Coker yesterday in front of the US Consulate. He was getting his papers to go down to the US to play for Chivas USA, after the trade that sent him there in exchange for Mauro Rosales.

Reo-Coker’s time in Vancouver was enigmatic; it really was a tale of two seasons.

A tale of two seasons

A tale of two seasons

During the 2013 season Nigel was a key starting player for the Whitecaps, and his contribution that year is generally seen as second in quality only to Camilo Sanvezzo, the little Brazilian striker who won the MLS scoring title. Reo-Coker’s ability to hold on to the ball under pressure and his physical toughness were the hallmarks of his game. His great contribution to the Whitecaps was the manner in which he helped the team keep the ball in the transition from defence to offence. He was able to move the team down the pitch by his own dribbling skills or by some very intelligent passing. He had remarkable balance and, for a relatively small fellow, he seemed to be impossible to knock off of the ball, something which is invaluable in the very physical MLS. His shooting was woefully bad, however, and he scored only one goal in his time here, one which the keeper really should have stopped, in our glorious 4-1 defeat of Seattle on their pitch. The statistics show he accumulated 4 assists in 2013.

The 2014 season was different. The charge was that Nigel showed up to training camp in poor physical shape and with the wrong attitude. He had a good match against the Red Bulls in March, setting up new boy Pedro Morales for a goal with great pass. A bizarre early season run-in with a bicycle rack, however, left him with bad lacerations on his face and a mild concussion. Injured for a number of matches, he drifted out of the starting eleven. When he returned to the starting eleven he was played out of position at right back, a position which is clearly neither his strength or his favourite. He gave away two penalties in games because his tackles were poorly timed. With Mathias Laba and Gershon Koffie playing well and growing in stature in central midfield, Reo-Coker lost his place in Carl Robinson’s starting eleven. It was no longer clear where his place was on the team. His fortune and form were inconsistent. He got 2 assists and no goals. It could not have been in greater contrast with his form in 2013.

Rumours of a transfer to Leeds United surfaced, and it was clear Reo-Coker wanted out. Last week the Whitecaps traded him to Chivas USA for Mauro Rosales, a play making midfielder.

Even though the 2014 season was a bit of a mixed bag, it was great to have player of Reo-Coker’s stature playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Reo-Coker’s impressive career in the English Premier League brought profile and respect to our team. When I met him yesterday Nigel was very polite, friendly and humble. I am glad I got the chance to shake his hand.

Thanks to Nigel Reo-Coker for some great football memories, and all the best to him in the future!


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