I take no joy in writing articles like this for you fine readers. Not because the Vancouver Whitecaps deserve leniency from the media; they're like every other professional sports franchise, and that means they have to be held accountable for their failures, I don't like 'trimming the fat' stories because it implies that the Whitecaps didn't need that player in the preceding season, almost like that player was useless.
In that case, I'd like to make one thing abundantly clear; I am in no way trying to disparage the players that wear the Whitecaps kit (yes, even that horrid arbutus brown one), who lace up their boots and put their health on the line for our enjoyment every week. I am, however, giving you a list of players I think the Whitecaps should separate themselves from in 2014 in order to become more competitive. (See the difference? Me neither, but let's press on)
For whatever reason, the following three players did not play to expectation in 2013, and the Whitecaps should be exploring options; whether it be a loan, trade or the like, these three players should not be on the Whitecaps roster in 2013.
3) JORDAN HARVEY
Nothing against Jordan Harvey, who had his best season as a Whitecap in 2013, contributing 4 goals from the backline, a pretty impressive feat. In addition, he's made himself a known presence in the city of Vancouver, even rocking out with his acoustic guitar on CTV news a few days ago. On the pitch however, Harvey was unreliable defensively all season long, proving himself to be a notch below the departed Alain Rochat in both defensive coverage and ball movement. Harvey had the scorer's touch, but lacks a well rounded game that the Whitecaps young backline desperately needed last season while the battled injury.
If Harvey is still on the roster next season, it will be because the Whitecaps failed to snag an upgrade at the position, and that spells bad news for the team. After finding scoring beyond Camilo, the 'Caps need to focus on stabilizing their defensive core. That means finding replacements for both YP Lee and Jordan Harvey, a large off-season task for management, no doubt.
2) JUN-MARQUES DAVIDSON
I'd hate to go at odds with my colleague Mark Dailey after he wrote such a great article on Davidson, but with Martin Rennie now gone from the club, I am now wracking my brain as to why he should continue to eat up minutes in the midfield. He is, as popular reader John Andress eloquently put it in the comments section earlier, a role player who understands what he needs to do perfectly. That means staying put, and making sure the pass he makes isn't picked off by the opposing team. That usually means a short pass behind to a more offensively gifted player, be it Nigel Reo-Coker, Daigo Kobayashi or the like, which is great if that's all you want from that position.
When Rennie switched Davidson with Gerson Koffie, it looked pretty damn good, and made the 'Caps a more dangerous team. Of course, you do give up some defensive responsibility with Davidson in the lineup, but you would think the team would count on other players to keep the play together out there. Like Jordan Harvey, if Davidson is in the starting 11 next season, it will be because they couldn't find an upgrade. I'd love to see Davidson on the bench though; he's cheap, he's been with the team for a while now, and he could excel as a situation player, just not an everyday one.
1) DARREN MATTOCKS
Say that I'm holding a grudge, but I really don't see a place for Darren Mattocks on the Vancouver Whitecaps next season. After the petulant sophomore gave a horribly narcissistic interview in which he called out his former coach, the management of the Whitecaps, and for some ungodly reason, Camilo, why on Earth should Mattocks be welcomed back next season? It's painfully clear he's a 'me first' player who doesn't sound wholly committed to the team for very much longer. Hell, he bitched and moaned that the club didn't sell him to a European club or move him elsewhere in MLS; I say grant him his wish. With Kekuta Manneh looking more and more ready for the limelight, Mattocks should be dispatched of while his value is still relatively high. I mean, according to Mattocks, every team in MLS wanted him last season, so it should be an easy sell, right? (Ha.)