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Where is Nico?


After the Vancouver Whitecaps lost to Sporting Kansas City last night, I posed the following question on Twitter

I ended up receiving an answer that was somewhat unexpected.

It would appear that Nico is fit to play and just has not been included in the game day 18. Now, of course, players tend to feel they are 'ready' before doctors believe they are ready, but this reply from Nico begs the question: Why is Nico not in the lineup?

Two seasons ago, Nico came to the Vancouver Whitecaps and was a bit underwhelming. There was nothing wrong, it was just that his play did not appear to be anything special. However, as we know, it can be difficult for a young player (or any player) to come to a new team, new country, and new culture and succeed immediately. Nico was retained after that first season and became an integral part of the Whitecaps bench last season. In preseason 2015 Nico had great chemistry with Octavio Rivero, as they had played together growing up. When Pedro Morales went down with injury, Nico was called upon to fill in for the Captain as the playmaker. The team looked so much better with Nico at the #10 helm. He was pressing and creating havoc for the opposing back four. Sadly, his season was cut short by injury.

This season, I was looking forward to seeing what Nico could offer this club. With the prospect of Morales playing alongside Matias Laba, I saw an opportunity for Mezquida to see more regular minutes, playing in the #10 position. As of yet, we have not seen Nico play. With the reply from him last night, it would appear that he is ready.

On the post match radio broadcast last night, TSN analyst Jason deVos stated that Morales and Rivero do not scare other teams. He noted that a key reason for that is that Morales plays so deep that he is not a threat to the backline and Rivero is left as an island. This is where Nico could fill the gap. Here is my thought, play Morales alongside Laba and play Nico in the #10 role. This gives you the long bomb pass of Morales and the short, slicing, play of Nico. How about that for a threat for a CB? Morales has the ball on the Whitecaps side of midfield. Does the CB pinch up and cover the pass in to Nico (or Bolanos) and risk Morales bombing one over the top to a streaking Bug or Manneh, or do I sit back and cover the over-the-top ball and let Rivero and company pick apart the field in front of the 18, until they find a hole? To me, that is a dangerous team.

What are your thoughts?