The first topic was much, much easier. Last week Eighty-Six Forever shared our thoughts on the four most disappointing Vancouver Whitecaps of 2016, and there really was no shortage of candidates. This time around, we’re going in a more positive direction, recognizing the Whitecaps that met or exceeded expectation in 2016.
First up, the 15 year old kid.
When Kekuta Manneh went down with injury, Whitecaps fans saw just how stagnant the club’s attack was. With no answers, Head Coach Carl Robinson decided to give some playing time to the young Alphonso Davies, which turned out to be a good call. Davies ended up starting a pair of MLS Regular Season games, the second youngest player in MLS history to do that, and made 8 appearances with the first club in the regular season overall. While he didn’t score a goal there, Davies showed his burst of speed, his creativity and gave Whitecaps fans something to cheer about.
In Concacaf Champions League Play, Davies was even better. He played three matches, highlighted by his performance against Sporting Kansas City in September, where he scored once and set up another in a 2-0 win. The only issue with Davies is how long he will be in a Whitecaps kit, with rumors there are some big name clubs looking to snatch him up.
You could say the Great Dane was bit spotty this season, but let’s be honest, he was arguably the only good thing about the Whitecaps defense this season. Ousted saw his stats decline (13 clean sheets last season, 6 this year for example) and we didn’t seem to have as many hightlight reel stops this year, but given the dumpster fire that was the Whitecaps backline, it’s more than understandable.
For example, last year, in 34 matches, Ousted faced 137 shots and made 99 saves. In 2014, it was 140 shots and 96 saves. This year, in two fewer matches, Ousted has faced 163 shots, and has made 108 stops. Basically, Ousted was called into action far more this season, and I believe he did more than good job.
I figured Harvey would be serving in more of a backup role this year, but the veteran proved he still has some gas left in the tank. The 32 year old Harvey started 26 matches for Vancouver this year, the second most by a defender on the roster (first, Tim Parker) . With the Whitecaps missing Steven Beitashour far more than they though they would, and Kendall Waston proving to have rough year, Harvey proved to be a very important piece of a young Whitecaps backline.
Plus, after going goalless in 2015, he also kicked in two goals this year to help contribute in the attack. Harvey has always been a good-not-great player for the Whitecaps, and I’d say he actually exceed that reputation this year, becoming a reliable, every-day player for Vancouver when he was healthy.
Do you have any picks? Lets us know in the comments.