Whitecaps fans recently voted CB Kendall Waston as the Team MVP, recognizing the dominant defender for all of his contributions to the team this season. A media panel had whittled the short list down to five candidates, and without a true goal scorer on the club, there were several good candidates to choose from. So, we posed the question to the writers at Eighty Six Forever; Who's your pick for Team MVP?
Mark Dailey: Kendall Waston
There are several choices here for me (honorable mentions go to David Ousted and Matias Laba), but without Kendall in the XI, then the team misses his presence on the backline. Waston is one of the top centre backs in MLS, and is also a threat to score from set pieces. After Sunday's match Carl Robinson said he believes that Kendall should be able to score more than two goals per season, and I, for one, agree with the gaffer on this.
Jorge Mendoza: David Ousted
My pick for team MVP is David Ousted. Ousted demonstrated high quality performances throughout the year and by providing key saves, the Great Dane earned the Whitecaps key points that proved absolutely crucial down the stretch in order to secure the 2nd spot in the Western conference. His contributions were not restricted to the pitch, Ousted erected himself as a leader of a young group, taking on the responsibility of being the captain in the absence of Pedro Morales.
Alistair Ogden: Matias Laba
It's not obvious how good he is until you watch a game from his perspective. His midfield tackles and interceptions look so natural that they constantly go under the radar. The addition of an attacking threat (however small) to his game makes him far and away my MVP.
AtlantisB: Cristian Techera
Can I vote for Cristian Techera? Of course I can! Yes, he was only here for the second half of the season but he is the MVP. 7 goals, 5 assists, 0.40 g/90. Right from his first game, this team was different when he was on the field. Do the Caps win the final game against Houston without him on the field? Maybe. But, Techera set the tempo at the beginning of the match. Fans will argue that Rivero and Manneh are the keys to playoff success for the Whitecaps. I am going to buck that trend and say Techera and Mezquida will be key. Finally, what needs to be the number 1 priority this offseason? Getting Techera signed. Second is another scoring threat.
Rituro: Matias Laba
What more can be said about "El Destructor" that hasn't already been said at length? Matias Laba is the core of the Whitecaps' midfield engine and is arguably the most irreplaceable person on the team. We've seen the team survive without Kendall Waston thanks to the emergence of Tim Parker alongside Pa Modou Kah. (Thank goodness Diego Rodriguez is just here on loan, right?) Paolo Tornaghi has held his own in CONCACF Champions League play and, if push came to shove, could capably step up to Major League Soccer in the absence of David Ousted. Laba is different; his body of work, as a pure destroyer shielding the backline, is unmatched by either Gershon Koffie (more of a box-to-box workhorse), Russell Teibert (more of a man-marking terrier/deep-lying distributor) or Deybi Flores (umm... he occasionally kicks the ball?) - and it shows. Without Laba, the Vancouver midfield doesn't project that aura of fear you'd get from having the likes of Kyle Beckerman, Diego Chara or Osvaldo Alonso patrolling the defensive line.
Jon Szekeres: David Ousted
David Ousted has completely beaten the expectations I had when he first arrived in Vancouver. I was salty the team had traded Alain Rochat to make room for him, and I was pretty adamant Brad Knighton should get a good look in net. However, Ousted has shown why the Whitecaps went out and got him, elevating his game to the elite level and, at times, dragging the Whitecaps kicking and screaming to a win, or at least a draw. In my opinion, no player has had a greater impact on the club than David Ousted this season, and he's my pick for Team MVP.