Yesterday, I mentioned that the Whitecaps were in the enviable position of having too many good players to field at once. Super talented youngsters like Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh, while they would unquestionably get more playing time elsewhere, have been forced to sit and wait while Camilo, Russell Teibert and Kenny Miller tear up Major League Soccer opponents.
However, at what point do the Whitecaps realize that there is simply too much young talent on this roster, to be simmering on the sidelines? Think about it; if Kenny Miller retires, or more likely, returns to Rangers FC as has been rumored, then the Whitecaps will still have two very young stars in their attack. Camilo is only 24 years old, and supposing he doesn't generate interest from any higher clubs, he should be a part of the Whitecaps' long-term plans. Same goes for Russell Teibert, who at 20 years of age, figures to have a lengthy future with the 'Caps, if suitable interest isn't found across the pond. (Although Nigel Reo-Coker has said the kid could play in the Premier league. Just saying.)
That means one spot for the likes of Kekuta Manneh, Omar Salgado and Darren Mattocks to fight over. That's not taking into account Erik Hurtado, who can play at the front of the attack but has been used in mid by Rennie so far. Simply put, it's far too much talent to just let sit. The Whitecaps, though they may be loathe to part with one of their blue chippers, need to ship someone out and get as much value as they can.
Born: September 10, 1993 (19 yrs old), El Paso, Texas
6'4, 210 lbs
Career Totals: 21 Games Played, 10 Games Started, 1 goal, 2 assists.
Should he be traded? Yes.
It's always tough to discuss trading a former first overall pick, especially considering it was the Whitecaps' first ever in the MLS SuperDraft. I like Salgado as much as the next guy, his speed, and his size would be a welcome addition to every team. Plus, at just 19 years of age, Salgado's best years are ahead of him, and the sky is the limit in terms of his potential. That being said, Salgado has had injury problems every year he's been a Whitecap, pushing him lower and lower on the depth chart.
While the Whitecaps couldn't be faulted for giving Salgado another chance to get healthy and show what he can do, every year he injures himself, he lowers his trade value more and more. We have to think long term here; is Salgado really ever going to supplant Camilo? Teibert? How about Kekuta Manneh, when Manneh gets a little older and much better? I'm not trying to write the kid off here, as he could very well be a great player in this league. However, the Vancouver Whitecaps need to determine if he can be a great player for this team, considering the circumstances. I say get as much as you can for Salgado while you can, and in the meanwhile, continue grooming Mattocks, Manneh and Hurtado for future places on the squad.
Born: November 5th, 1990 (22 years old), Fredericksburg, Virginia
5'10, 180 lbs
Career Totals: 9 Games Played, 4 Games Started, 0 goals, 1 assist
Should he be traded? No.
I've been pretty rough on Hurtado on this site, but he's so young, it's tough to determine just how good he'll be in this league. He's got strength and quickness, no doubt about it, but he's also got plenty of issues with his first touch, as he tends to resemble a bull in a china shop. At 22 years old, he's got a few years on other members of this list, but he's also got a unique set of traits that sets him apart from the other three. His gritty playing style will be perfect for MLS, once he fully matures and realizes his potential, and he already looks to be a favorite of Martin Rennie, who no doubt admires his balls to the wall, never stop engine that he shows on the pitch. Hurtado may not be a superstar in this league, but he has the skills to become a very good complimentary player, and one the 'Caps should hold onto.
Born: December 30th, 1994 (18 years old), Bakau, Gambia
5'9, 145 lbs
Career Totals: 10 Games Played, 1 Games Started, 2 goals, 1 assist
Should he be traded? Hell to the No.
This is an easy one. Kekuta Manneh is a fan favorite that has shown unbelievable upside at the age of just 18 years old. He's still raw, of course, but he's shown glimpses of what he can do, and brother, it's pretty damn exciting. Manneh has shown better finish than arguably any other player on this list, and has done it all with a humble, 'do what the coaches tell me' attitude. The only real debatable question here is how long the Vancouver Whitecaps can hold on to him. As he matures and continues to fill the net with goals, he'll obviously get some attention from better, richer teams. He may not be a Whitecap forever, but it would be downright foolish to trade a player of Manneh's caliber, especially when he can play in an attacking mid role. That gives him versatility that should make him a first team player in a few short seasons.
Born: September 2nd, 1990 (22 years old), Portmore, Jamaica
5'10, 155 lbs
Career Totals: 34 Games Played, 21 Games Started, 10 goals, 2 assists
Should he be traded? Debatable.
Trade Darren Mattocks? Last season, that was unthinkable. The super rookie exploded onto the scene with 7 goals, and carved out a spot in the starting 11 after coming back from a freak injury. He exuded confidence, he knew how to finish, and the Whitecaps had high hopes for him in 2013. Hell, he had high hopes as well, telling reporters he was setting his sights on 20 goals for the season. Sadly, it hasn't all panned out the way we thought. Mattocks' inability to finish, coupled with the rise of Camilo and Kenny Miller, have relegated the speedy young striker to the bench. In addition, questions about his work ethic and attitude have swirled, leading some to believe it too was a contributing factor to his push to the bench. Whether or not that's true is neither here nor there, because he simply wasn't doing what the Whitecaps needed him to do.
Now, with Manneh in the fold, the Whitecaps might not have use for two, young speedy strikers, especially when Mattocks has shown he can really only thrive at the top of the formation. Manneh is more coachable and versatile, which could cast doubt on Mattocks' future with the club. In addition, Mattocks has the highest value of any player on this list, and could bring back some good pieces. Still, at just 22 years of age, and with so much potential oozing out of his game, the Whitecaps couldn't be faulted for just hanging on to him for a while longer.