Despite the recent disappointment with the Canadian Championship, it's easy to spot the positives through the Vancouver Whitecaps first 10 matches of the MLS regular season. The boys sit above the playoff bubble, and while the roster isn't perfect, there are a ton of feel-good stories; the resurrection of both Darren Mattocks and Andy O'Brien, the return of Omar Salgado to the roster, the slight emergence of Erik Hurtado, and the continued development of Kekuta Manneh; clearly, this is a good time to be a 'Caps fan.
So, let's take a gander at what's working, and what isn't, for the club after 10 regular season matches.
Though he's still a fan favorite, the Whitecaps Captain has clearly lost a step on the backline, and that's with the coaching staff managing his minutes, and giving him plenty of opportunities to rest up. Jay has always been a 'Superman' type player, willing to throw his body around and work harder than anybody else on the pitch to produce results. At his age, that style of play just isn't as effective anymore.
Reports have been swirling for the last few weeks that DeMerit will hang up his boots at the end of the season. That may be the best thing for him, especially with a few young defenders on the 'Caps roster ready for their crack at the league.
While his partner has struggled, Andy O'Brien has been an absolute rock for the Whitecaps this season. Bob Lenarduzzi called him a 'feel-good story', and despite being 34 years of age (35 in June), O'Brien has started every regular season match for the club this season.
O'Brien's success may be aided by his playing style; strong positioning, and calm ball movement. His large stature helps with positioning as well. In comparison, DeMerit has been known for playing with reckless abandon, throwing caution, and his body, to the wind in order to make the play. That style doesn't age well.
As you can read here, O'Brien's commitment to the team in the off-season has really helped his game. He shed ten pounds, and was able to put the injury woes of 2013 behind him, at least so far. (Knock on wood) If he's able to keep his game at this level, could he be patrolling the backline for the club again in 2015?
If you believe the rumors, Nigel Reo-Coker will no longer be a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps after the Seattle Sounders match this weekend. If it's true, it's a damn shame that it had to end this way, after the magic Reo-Coker was able to show in 2013. His passes aren't as poetic as Pedro Morales, and he didn't display that same type of shifty creativity that made Davide Chiumiento so effective when he was here. When Reo-Coker was at his best, he took the ball, put his head down, and barreled ahead until he could make something happen.
Plays like that quickly made Reo-Coker my favorite player to watch in 2013, and I was truly expecting more of the same this time around. While Camilo certainly hasn't endeared himself to any Vancouver fan lately, those two were a lot of fun to watch last season.
To go from a core member of the squad to a bench warmer can't be easy for a proud guy like Reo-Coker, but to his credit, he's taken his time in exile well, and hasn't caused any headaches for the squad.
Oh, about that Camilo guy...
If Eighty Six Forever readers were in charge, Camilo would be coming back to the Whitecaps. Over 120 of you want to see him scoring goals in a 'Caps kit again, while, in a display of just how polarizing the wee Brazilian is to fans, over 100 of you think he's a traitor, and should stay away. He's on Carl Robinson's list, so, well, ya never know.