NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 26: Yoisel Salazar #2 of Cuba watches Shaun Saiko #9 of Canada kick a ball during a 2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying match at LP Field on March 26, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
It's one of those weeks. There's been a lot of little news but not much worth making a big deal about. The Vancouver Whitecaps drew DC United 0-0 in a depressing affair that I'll review as soon as I can be bothered to remember those 90 dull minutes. The Canadian Olympic team lost a game they were supposed to lose, although they put up a tremendous fight. The Whitecaps Residency added a young Canadian player who another Canadian team thought they had dibs on. All moderately interesting storylines, but none worth 1,000 words on their own.
So why not play the lazy writer's favourite card and summarize all those semi-stories with a big ol' list article? After the jump, some Whitecaps and Canada-related thoughts which have been bouncing around my head the past few days.
- We have eight points from our first four games, no losses, and no goals against. This is a good problem to have. It's the team's best four-game start since 2008, when you may recall we won the championship. There hasn't been enough scoring, but I for one don't believe our legion of professional goal-getters suddenly all forgot what the net looks like.
The Whitecaps need to use the whole field more; Gershon Koffie's return should help, as will some actual wingers. Shoving the ball down the enemy's throat is all well and good, and the Whitecaps have the horses for it, but you need to mix in some wide play to create that room. Martin Rennie knows that. They'll get there, although if John Thorrington is our right-most midfielder much more often it'll take a while.
- What is Davide Chiumiento's deal? I can't say he's played badly, because he hasn't really; he's been hustling (by Dede standards), doing his best, and looking for all the world like a professional soccer player more determined than ever to silence his critics. At the same time, um, he hasn't really done anything yet this season, has he? I don't just mean in terms of goals or assists; he hasn't been beating defenders with his usual aplomb, hasn't had many interesting set-ups, and has looked a bit more like Jonny Steele than I expect from my $200,000 attacking midfielders.
Eric Hassli's goalscoring drought gets the headlines even when he's making lovely flicks to set up goals and getting involved in goalscoring chances. But Chiumiento didn't achieve much in the last third of 2011 and is a giant 0-for so far in 2012. I remember when Vancouver was coming up to MLS, then-Portland head coach Gavin Wilkinson made headlines before a playoff match by calling Chiumiento a "luxury player". I'd call this a cold spell from a mercurial player but he's really giving it out there. Have teams just figured him out?
- Goalkeeper Joe Cannon is the team's MVP so far this season, and that blows my mind. He can't keep the 100% save percentage up but the man is aging like Benjamin Button. When I ran the Cannon-vs.-Jay Nolly argument for the final time in December, I decided Cannon was better but it was close. Whoops. And this after signing a renegotiated contract that might make him the best bargain in MLS goalkeeping. The only problem is that Cannon's distribution, which was poor at the end of last season and has somehow gotten worse, will sink him. Well, it'll sink him if he ever stops leaping around the goal like Superman on amphetamines.
- Rookie Darren Mattocks is hurt and, anyway, far from proven. Eric Hassli and Camilo Sanvezzo are both less than 100%. Long Tan is Long Tan: useful but not the answer to any question worth asking. Sebastien Le Toux is gold, but he's only one man and as we saw Saturday can chunk the occasional sitter.
So, when is Omar Salgado getting his turn? I'm not his biggest fan but at least he can throw a new looks at opposing defenses: size and speed. He had a decent run in our Reserves debut and set up Carlyle Mitchell's game-tying goal. Put him with Le Toux, the hardest-working man on any field, and can you imagine a better influence or playmaker for young Omar? Unless he spends every practice defecating on Paul Ritchie's face Salgado needs an opportunity, for his own sake and for the club's.
- Speaking of Carlyle Mitchell... you're never going to make changes to a defense with 0 GA through four games but we're sure we can't play him somewhere? Maybe he can learn midfield? He might be the best player in MLS who's going to get 200 minutes this season.
- Scuttlebutt is that Philippe Davies is attracting interest in Norway. I know the Whitecaps were willing to keep Big Phil around this season for $10 an hour or whatever he was making, but after his star turn in Olympic qualifying and now a rumoured move to a decent European league, he might be the latest entry on the depressingly long list of Canadian Players the Whitecaps Let Go For Nothing Who Promptly Kicked the Ever-Loving Shit Out of Some Scandinavians.
- The arrival of Canadian U-17 team starlet Sadi Jalali with the Vancouver Whitecaps U-16 team has stirred some interest, as Jalali had a verbal agreement to play with FC Edmonton if his European trials didn't work out. What's interesting isn't that Jalali didn't keep the word of an agent he's since fired; it's that nobody (even in Edmonton) seems too bothered about Jalali playing in Vancouver. Edmonton fans seem to be chalking it up as a learning experience. Fine by me. Jalali joins Russell Teibert and some players who didn't make it as guys the Whitecaps Residency have poached from another Canadian team's backyard.
- Canada's U-23 team, featuring a chorus line of Whitecaps and ex-Whitecaps, lost 3-1 to Mexico on Saturday, as you know. It was a crying shame, and I say this having expected less than nothing from that team. I should write more about this at some point, but: they did the country proud. I learned a thing or two about some of the players on that team, and everything I learned was positive. What a pleasure they were to watch, even in defeat. Hopefully the experience will serve that amazingly young team well.