The Vancouver Whitecaps were officially bounced from playoff contention over the weekend, and that means you’re going to be seeing plenty of post-mortems out there trying to dissect exactly what went wrong with a club that started the season with so much promise. To kick things off, Eighty Six Forever takes a look at some of the Whitecap players that didn’t really live up to their billing this year, and I don’t think you’re going to find many surprises.
Don’t forget to submit your picks in the comment section.
What the hell happened to the big man? Waston was the complete package his first year in Vancouver, a snarling, intimidating foundation piece on the backline. However, in 2016, his third year in Vancouver, he seemed afraid of taking a card and putting his team at a disadvantage. This resulted in the worst parts of timid, reactive play without his trademark edge or physicality. Waston seemed to be really tripped up with MLS this season, and so many new pieces on the backline certainly couldn’t have helped. With Tim Parker and Jordan Harvey perhaps the only other consistent pieces, Waston seemed to really struggle without an old pro like Steven Beitashour on the backline, and the always physical Gershon Koffie in the defensive midfield.
Whatever the reason behind Kendall’s slide, the Whitecaps defense was atrocious this year, and as the face of the backline with a nice salary, he has to absorb a lot of the blame.
Specifically, his roster decisions. Robinson felt comfortable letting both Beitashour and Koffie go in the off-season, and the team struggled defensively. While he has been able to find plenty of gems in the past, Robinson’s offensive additions this year had minimal impact; Christian Bolanos was probably the best one and he was pretty inconsistent. Other additions that didn’t do much include Giles Barnes, and Masato Kudo (Who, to be fair, had to come back from a significant injury). However, the biggest knock against Robinson is that when Kekuta Manneh went down with injury, he looked totally out of answers.
On the backline, David Edgar and Marcel De Jong were late additions that didn’t provide much spark, and somehow, SOMEHOW, Jordan Smith was able to start 15-freaking-matches this season. I will give him credit for bringing over Fraser Aird, who battled injury for a large portion of the season but still looked good when he was able to take the pitch. Robinson has promised plenty of change in the off-season, however, the club might want to start with the head coach position.
After an unbelievable first season in a Whitecaps kit, the decline of Pedro Morales has been obvious and incredibly frustrating. Morales, the Whitecaps highest paid player, was more of an offensive liability this season than a catalyst. He was only able to score from the penalty spot, his distribution and creativity withered, and he became an anchor in the midfield. His leadership is questionable as well, considering he gave some comments earlier this season that seemed to indicate he was mentally checked out of MLS. Then there was perhaps his worst moment as a Captain, the Seattle match, when he was kicked out in the second half for a weak elbow to the head of an opponent.
The Whitecaps could attempt to bring Pedro Morales back next season, but what are they truly hoping for? There were no excuses for him this year. He was healthy, he had an off-season to rest, he wasn’t supposedly going to be as fatigued and tired as before. Yet, here were are.
I think we’ve seen the best we’re ever going to see from Pedro Morales, and it’s time to cut the line and start fishing elsewhere.
It’s not that Techera was awful this season, he, like may Whitecap attacking players, simply falls under the category of disappointing. Techera showed brilliance in the CONCACAF Champions League matches, scoring four goals in four matches, however he was unable to carry that dominance over to the MLS Regular Season when his club really needed him.
In 17 starts last season, Techera scored seven times. This season, he’s started 18 matches and has just two goals. The chemistry that appeared to be burgeoning between Morales and Techera last year simply dissipated in 2016, and it was something the club could have obviously used.
How about you? What Whitecaps didn’t live up to their billing this season?