The Vancouver Whitecaps recently held their end of season availability for media, and some intriguing comments were made by both Head Coach Carl Robinson, as well as some of the Whitecap players themselves. Perhaps the most calming is the following quote from our skipper, regarding the status of Matias Laba.
"There's a fee agreed [with Toronto FC] to take Matias Laba and we will be doing that because he's been fantastic for us and a big part of this club moving forward. It will be settled and Mati will be coming back next year."
So, essentially, this is a sale, right? In any case, it's a terrific move by the club, as Laba cemented himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in Major League Soccer, and easily one of the Whitecaps most important players. Paired with either Gershon Koffie or Russell Teibert, there were very few times Laba failed to impress, and it would have been a massive blow to the club to lose him, perhaps even more damaging than the Camilo loss.
Robinson also sounded hopeful he would be able to extend the loan of Sebastian Fernandez, while the futures of both Andy O'Brien and Mauro Rosales appear to rest on finances. In O'Brien's case, it would appear that if he is back, it would be in a reduced, or 'leadership' role, as Robinson said he would like to have the big defender back in 'some capacity.' The video is below.
O'Brien seems to be open, both to the idea of a paycut and a reduced role. If that can be accomplished, I see no reason why the club shouldn't bring O'Brien back. He struggled for parts of the season, but I think he was able to recover and put forth a very good effort for the final stretch of 2014. I'm a fan of O'Brien, and if those conditions are met, I hope he's back in a Whitecap kit.
Captain Pedro Morales also revealed that he hurt his foot in the FC Dallas match, and that he 'just didn't have any energy.' Yes, Morales had a lackluster effort in the 'Caps post-season match, but it's hard to fault him after such a wonderful rookie MLS season. On most nights he was the club's only offensive presence, and I think we should cut him some slack here. Morales went on to mention that he was pretty tired from playing 'A year and a half in Spain and here', and that he was looking forward to heading back to Chile in the off-season, and relaxing with his family. It's well deserved.
You can check out more of the videos here, including an interview with Jordan Harvey, where he talks the upcoming expansion draft. Harvey is an interesting case, because he's steadily improved since struggling when he first made his way to Vancouver. Harvey's offensive touch has been welcome from the back end, but he also makes over $120,000. With pieces to add and to keep, he may be the odd man out.
With Laba returning, a rested, healthy Morales coming back to camp, and a full off-season to track down a pure goal scorer, it's hard not to be optimistic for 2015.