Okay Vancouver, everyone can collectively breathe a sigh of relief. YP Lee, 2012's Team MVP, and the most consistent defender on the Whitecaps is back for another round. Lee's decision was confirmed by the Whitecaps yesterday.
Well, I for one can confidently say, Thank God, because the Whitecaps strong back line should stay strong. A line of Lee, Demerit, O'Brien, and then either Harvey, Rochat or another acquisition is absolutely nothing to sneeze at. So, barring a slew of injuries, the 2013 Whitecaps shouldn't have a whole lot of trouble keeping the ball out of the net.
Lee's return is important because If we learned anything from last season, it's that the Whitecaps tended to struggle if a top defender, like Demerit or Lee, did not play. Plus, Lee was easily the best defender on the 'Caps because of his calm demeanor in the face of chaos. Demerit, though the unquestioned leader of the bunch, sometimes is far too aggressive, trying to hoist them team on his back when he doesn't need to. Rochat was moved to midfield halfway through the season, Harvey is far too mistake prone, and O'Brien, while he did put forth a very solid effort when he was acquired, needs a full season to be fairly judged as a top tier defender. Then there was the card-prone Bonjour, who found himself plastered to the bench midseason.
However, what about 2014 and beyond? Lee's reportedly had problems with the Whitecaps draining travel schedule, and Head Coach Martin Rennie didn't do him any favors by playing him in literally every MLS match except for one. It's not crazy to suggest that this is probably the swan-song for Lee, which will eventually leave a gigantic gap in the Whitecaps back line.
The problem is that at the moment, there is no heir apparent to Lee's spot. Once he vamooses, who is going to step up and become that guy? Short answer is nobody, because there is obviously nobody in the Whitecaps system that freaking good. So, the Whitecaps moves would probably include signing another aging former premier leaguer that will stick around for no more than three seasons, and so the pattern will continue.
Why will it always be an aging defender? Let's be honest here; if you're a young player with some talent, MLS will never be your number one choice, unless it's because of a huge overpayment.
You see, for any other team, this wouldn't be much of an issue. For instance, you would draft the best defender available wherever your draft position is. Then, you would hope that he's the real deal, hope he's a quick learner and hope that he can be a productive member of your lineup in say, two or three years. However, the 'Caps defense, as previously discussed, can be incredibly fragile if top dogs go down. So, unfortunately, you always need top level talent to stay competitive.
Maybe I'm overreacting a bit, but when YP Lee takes off, he might set the club back years. It'll definitely be interesting to see how Whitecaps management will handle his return, his departure, and beyond.
Think I'm crazy? Thats what the comments section is for, people.