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Kendall Waston: How Good Has He Been?

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Examining the contributions of Kendall Waston in his first 8 games as a Whitecap central defender.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

On August 8th, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced the signing of Costa Rican centre back Kendall Waston. It was clear that Waston was a key acquisition because for the Whitecaps as it addressed a need at an important position. Waston was heralded as a set-piece wunderkind having scored 26 goals in 127 career appearances (1 goal per 5 appearances) and 8 goals in 30 appearances with Saprissa this season.

In addition to Waston’s goal scoring prowess Carl Robinson said that ‘Kendall [was] a big, physical, aggressive centre back…’ and would be a great addition to the team. He quickly endeared himself to the fan base with his open letter posted on Twitter shortly after his signing. However, players are not judged solely on their likability but rather their contributions on the field. So far, Waston has started 8 games at centre back and I believe that it is time for a preliminary analysis of his contributions.

Traditionally, incoming European players have had difficulties adjusting to MLS. However, the transition for Central and South American players seems to be easier and Waston has been no exception. According to WhoScored, Waston has been the top defensive player in MLS with a rating of 7.73. This is higher than notable defenders Omar Gonzalez (7.62), Chad Marshall (7.51), DaMarcus Beasley (7.41), and Aurelien Collin (7.37). What may be even better is that Waston is the youngest of these players at 26.

Breaking down Waston’s contributions further during his 8 gamesis that the Whitecaps have allowed fewer goals per game (1.13 vs 1.29) and have 4 clean sheets (DC, SJ, Dallas, & Seattle). Individually, Waston has been Man of the Match 3 times (DC, SJ, & Seattle), has scored 1 goal (SJ), earned two penalties (SJ & Real), and is 8th in the league with 1.0 blocks per game (Johnny Leveron is 3rd at 1.3). However, his most important contribution thus far might be in clearances per game (10.9) where he is 2.2 clearances per game higher than his next closest competition.

Of course, everything has not been perfect for Waston. In only 9 appearances he has somehow accumulated 5 yellow cards (yikes!).  This might be something that Whitecaps fans will have to deal with, or perhaps it may just be him adjusting to the way fouls are called in the league. Regardless, at a salary of $201,242 (8th highest), Waston has certainly been worth every penny and hopefully will be a fixture on the backline for quite some time.

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