The final roster for the Vancouver Whitecaps is starting to take shape, with new additions and bubble players trying to squeeze into the lineup.
The core players have already settled into their probable roles for the upcoming season. I mean, lets face it, no one is going to bump Demerit, O'Brien or Lee from their places. Gershon Koffie and Daigo Kobayashi are safe and sound, and Camilo, Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks are obviously going to stick around for the opening kickoff.
However, there still remains two blatant question marks. First, who will take the goalkeeping position and run with it, and secondly, what to do with Alain Rochat?
I've already given my thoughts on the goalkeeping position (Knighton = younger, cheaper, more upside), but let's touch on arguably the Whitecaps most consistent player.
We all know that Rochat is dynamite on the backline, a pillar of strength when things get scrambly. If the Whitecaps were to place him back in his old spot, the Whitecaps would boast a formidable three headed monster back there, with Jay Demerit, YP Lee and the aforementioned Rochat. That's a pretty damn good defense core, and one that would easily be the backbone of the squad.
However, Martin Rennie had that option last season, and he chose to use Rochat in a defensive midfield role, bumping Jun-Marques Davidson to the bench. Despite having to adapt to a new position midway through the MLS regular season, Rochat didn't miss a beat. In fact, he proved to be a significant upgrade from the limited Davidson, who excels when the game is simple. Davidson rarely made an attacking move, instead focusing on short passes and slowing the match down to the best of his ability. Rochat used his offensive instincts in his new role, using forward passes instead of short back or side strokes.
I think that when the 2013 campaign kicks off, you have to stick Rochat back in midfield, but only if Head Coach Martin Rennie wants to use the 4-4-2 lineup that he favored for most of last season.
Why? He provides an offensive upgrade which I've already gone over, but also complements Gershon Koffie quite well. Koffie doesn't have to be the only offensive threat in the 'Caps mid, and adding a steadily improving Matt Watson and the creative Daigo Kobayshi to the mix should take most of the load off the talented young ghanian's shoulders.
Jordan Harvey, while he did struggle in Arizona during the pre-season, was quite solid in his role last season. Is he spectacular? No, but when he is on his game, he's an above average, serviceable defender that can be counted on to make the smart play. *Note: When he is on his game.
With increased depth on the backline, Rochat isn't needed direly, and he can instead focus on giving great through balls to Darren Mattocks. If there is an injury back there, Davidson comes off the bench, and you shuffle Rochat back to the defender role. Hell, you could even keep Rochat up there and try Brad Rusin full time, if Rochat is playing like he was last season.
What do you think? Where should the Whitecaps plug Alain Rochat?