5. Marco Bustos
Given that he’s only 18 and fourth in the attacking midfield pecking order, he might sound like a long shot. But Bustos has skill and tenacity. He’s shown exceptionally well this preseason, scoring two goals and getting one assist. He also had 16 goals in 12 games with the Residency squad last year. Though Carl Robinson seemed intent on bringing in an extra winger to start the season, transfer talks seem to have fizzled out, meaning that at least one side of the attack will be open for the taking. Kekuta Manneh may be the odds on favorite to claim that spot, but don’t rule out Bustos. He’s got what it takes.
4. Sam Adekugbe
It will be difficult for Jordan Harvey to be pushed out of his starting spot, especially by a guy who’s only just turned 20. However, it wasn't so long ago that Alain Rochat was seemingly in control of the Whitecaps’ left back position, only to have Harvey himself wrestle it out of his grasp. Adekugbe has been used extensively by Carl Robinson this preseason, and has demonstrated his attacking potential on numerous occasions. Finding consistency will be a key for the Canadian U-20 international this season, but look for him to come on frequently as a substitute and add an extra dimension to the 2015 'Caps attack.
3. Nicolas Mezquida
After a relatively quiet 2014 made up of mostly substitute appearances, Mezquida will no doubt be looking to eek out a place in the starting 11. Early in preseason he teamed up well with Octavio Rivero, and he's looked exciting in every grainy YouTube stream we've been afforded. Of course, it will be difficult to push Mauro Rosales or Pedro Morales out of the starting 11, but there is a chance that Morales could play a deeper midfield role this season, opening up an attacking spot for the "Mosquito". Whether or not he takes that chance remains to be seen.
2. Kekuta Manneh
After a less than stellar sophomore season, Manneh has a lot to prove. He’s been effective as a super sub the last couple of seasons, but very rarely lasts an entire game. After coming into camp fitter and stronger this season, the Manneh hype seems to have been renewed. The question on everybody's mind will be whether or not he can finally fulfill his potential and turn his raw skill into a more refined on-field product. Although his preseason performances have varied in quality, at the moment he looks set to find himself in the starting 11 on March 7.
1. Octavio Rivero
Despite being heavily lauded as the Vancouver Whitecaps’ new designated player and goal scoring savior, Rivero is only 23. He performed exceptionally well down in Chile, but has yet to prove himself as an elite striker. After two goals in his first few minutes of preseason, Rivero has quieted down slightly. That being said, if the hype is to be believed, he could be in for a formidable year. I'm sure if he gets on a roll and finds some chemistry with his teammates, this could be the year of El Cabeza.