Caps' Midfield Needs to Step Up

Can Russell Teibert and the rest of the Vancouver Whitecaps midfielders up their offensive numbers in 2014? - USA TODAY Sports

Many Whitecaps observers have rightly identified the team's need for a creative CAM, someone to be the spark plug of the attacking engine this season. But, in applying a macro lens, it's clear that there's a greater need when it comes to the Vancouver midfield.

Oddly enough, the problem facing the blue-and-white this season are much the same as the one that has plagued their blue-and-green NHL neighbours across the street.

Last season, the Vancouver Canucks were mercilessly vexed by the lack of secondary scoring. That problem has now compounded itself to become a lack of primary, secondary, and even tertiary scoring.

For the Whitecaps, scoring per se was not the issue in 2013. After all, the team potted 53 goals, good enough for fourth place in Major League Soccer (tied with the LA Galaxy). Unfortunately, that high total was almost equaled by their goals against (47), which was sixth-worst in the league. With a somewhat leaky back end, scoring with regularity became a necessity for the Caps. On six occasions last year the Caps scored two goals, yet failed to secure a victory.

Of course, Vancouver is now without the services of 2013 Gold Boot winner Camilo Sanvezzo (22 G), so filling that particular void is going to be a major concern - one that the Vancouver midfield will also have to contribute toward.

The problem? Well, let's take a look at goal production from the midfield on a team by team basis:

Team Midfielder* Goals
Chicago 34
New England 32
Columbus 31
New York 29
Portland 28
Salt Lake 25
Los Angeles 25
Houston 20
Montreal
19
Dallas 19
San Jose 19
D.C. 16
Colorado 15
Philadelphia 12
Seattle 12
Kansas City 11
Toronto 10
Chivas 9
Vancouver 8

*Note that I've included all players designated as either M, M-F, or D-M by MLSsoccer.com.

Clearly, the Whitecaps will need a much bigger contribution from all of their midfielders heading into 2014.

An acceptably decent CAM should reasonably be able to contribute something in the neighbourhood of eight to 10 goals per season - a far cry better than the two that Daigo Kobayashi was able to muster last year.

In the early going last year, it certainly appeared that Koby was going to be our man. For those who might have forgotten, there was this spectacular effort. But the wheels fell off the Daigomobile soon thereafter, and the sizzle became fizzle.

Yet, Kobayashi's lowly contribution wasn't out of place. Gershon Koffie managed three goals - despite having played a good portion of the season in a holding mid role.

Russell Teibert managed two scores in 24 matches played - both in the same home match vs LA  Galaxy. The second of his markers is the type that Caps fans didn't see often enough last year, and very much the kind that Vancouver will need in 2014 if they're to be successful.

Then there's Nigel Reo-Coker, who slotted in just one goal in his 32 games played. He's supposedly on a better deal this year, and one would hope a happier Nigel will be able to find the net a little more often.

We're days away from seeing the Caps in pre-season action, and Robo's vision for the team set loose on the pitch. I, for one, will be looking forward to seeing how involved the 2014 Whitecaps midfield will be when it comes to the score sheet.

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