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The Whitecaps Have a Problem at Right Back

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Both Fraser Aird and Jordan Smith have struggled to start the year

Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
It's only two matches into the season, but I think it's safe to say the Whitecaps should be worried about the right back position. The 'Caps traded MLS veteran Steven Beitashour to TFC in the off-season, reportedly due to price concerns. Namely, TFC was willing to pay what Vancouver wasn't. The 'Caps already had the young Jordan Smith on the roster, but also acquired 21 year old Fraser Aird on loan from Scottish club Rangers FC.

In the first match of the season, Fraser Aird ended up on the wrong side of the highlight reel, allowing Ignacio Piatti to dance past him, and a few other 'Caps, before slotting it past David Ousted.  I mean, obviously multiple Whitecap players were fooled by Piatti on the play so you can't just target Aird, but it was far from his only mistake on the night.


The Impact had lots of ball movement and chances up Aird's side of the pitch, and Carl Robinson decided to go in a different direction for the second match of the season, a road match against Sporting Kansas City. That was Jordan Smith, the 24 year old Costa Rican. Unfortunately for himself and for the Whitecaps, Smith had a nightmare match against SKC, including a red card that reduced the Whitecaps to 10 men before halftime.

To give you some brief insight into Smith's night, here's his work on Dom Dwyer's second goal.



He's caught chasing, completely out of position as Graham Zusi crosses the ball to Chance Myers at the far side of the box. Dwyer has now moved into the space where Smith, or at least someone covering for Smith, should be. Smith is not even close to the area because he slipped getting up from his failed challenge, then decided to have a nice jog back instead of running. Dwyer scores the easiest goal of his career while Smith looks onward, and the Whitecaps go down 2-0. Complete amateur hour.

I won't go into the red card too much, because I thought Alistair Ogden summed it up nicely in the post-match report.
If the two goals weren't enough to keep the Whitecaps down, Jordan Smith soon saw to that with a horrifically bad tackle on Graham Zusi in the dying embers of the first half. The flying lunge from behind resulted in a straight red, and for once it's hard to argue with the referee's decision. The tackle was mind-bogglingly stupid and Edvin Jurisevic had every right to reach for his back pocket.
If I were Carl Robinson, I would be looking at putting Tim Parker at Right Back, and then bringing in either Pa Modou Kah or Cole Seiler to partner with Kendall Waston at Center Back. Parker has played the position before, and Kah is an effective, albeit a bit unpredictable, option on defense.

On the other hand, Robinson can go back to Aird and hope the youngster can play well enough to earn some trust back. Aird may have had a rough outing against the Impact, but he certainly deserves more than one opportunity to prove what he can do, right? He's 21 years old and still adjusting to the MLS game, so he may still be a viable option at the position. Plus, he looked much better in the substitution appearance he had against SKC, when the Whitecaps were reduced to 10 men.

It has only been two matches, and the Whitecaps still have plenty of time to pull themselves out of their defensive slump. However, the expectations for this club were very high to start the season, and the backline has looked downright atrocious at times. If the personnel on the Whitecaps roster can't get the job done, Carl Robinson will have no choice but to go looking elsewhere for help. If anything though, his trade of Steven Beitashour is looking worse by the moment.

Hey has anyone made a 'get YP Lee in uniform' joke yet?