As we all know, last year ended with a whimper. Although the excitement of a home playoff match vs Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers was a well hyped event, it continued with the downward trend this team had been on. You could call the Voyageurs Cup win at the end of August as the pinnacle for 2015. What's gone wrong since then?
Injuries, suspensions and the usual roster turnover. However, are those any real reasons why the 2016 Whitecaps to date, have been an uninspiring bunch? Let's take a look at the major roster moves by position and a little quip about each:
Steven Beitashour out, Fraser Aird in (on loan): Early returns indicate Aird is more offensively inclined than Beita is, but seems to become the easy target for opposition as lots of joy has been had down the attacking left. Beita was also worked over, but not to the extent and relative success, that Aird has been. His only saving grace: that guy with the blond hair in net......Ousted is his name, I think.....
Christian Bolaños: This is an interesting one to dissect as he didn't really take anyone's job. The easy one is Manneh, but you could argue that Manneh shouldn't even be playing as he's clearly not 100%. Obviously, less than a third of the season gone, it's hard to grade his performance so far, but there have been small flashes of brilliance between himself and Morales, when both have been healthy. As I've said before, and will continue to do so, there will be an adjustment period for all these newcomers to MLS.
Blas Pérez: Another one that's hard to judge. He's drawn 1 penalty, granted it allowed Pedro to score the winning goal in Seattle, and that's about it. Other than a leadership role, it's hard to know why Blas is here. Diving lessons, not that the Caps need any help in that regard. Joking aside, I'm sure his experience will be helpful at some point.
Masato Kudo: I know it sounds like I'm making an excuse for him, coming from a league that may be inferior to MLS (J-League) and the obvious language barrier can't be helping his transition. Neither can being suspended for a Pérez style dive be helping much. I'm sure, once the Caps figure out who their real #10 is, and perhaps a formation that actually fits what they are, it may help Kudo develop some chemistry with the midfield.
Andrew Jacobson: As you may expect, he's made the smoothest transition into the Whitecaps lineup. Then again, being as versatile as he is, one would expect that it shouldn't be a problem. You could also argue he's had the biggest impact (non-tangible) of the newcomers.
With Morales seemingly unable to shake the injury bug, the question needs to be posed: Are the Caps missing Mauro Rosales more than they think?
I would argue yes, only because he was a capable insurance policy at the #10 role to Morales. He was also able to deliver a decent cross from corners or dead ball situations. Yeah, he'd hit the turf at least once like he was shot, but somehow managed to get up and, more often than not, continue on. Not that Techera is dreadful, but his accuracy leaves something to be desired.
I also have to put at least one loss on Robbo. As the coach, I'd expect him to have a lot more faith in his players, but not realizing that playing guys out of position in a formation you (or WFC2) don't normally play, doesn't work. It's like a reversion to Martin Rennie.
The only consistent bright spot has been Ousted. Keeping the Caps in games long enough for the ref to bail them out with a penalty call (some deserved, some not so much).
Can we blame Lenarduzzi and Co? I would be remiss to look in that direction. Would they be in the same place they are now if they had gotten a capable MLS calibre striker with a proven scoring record? Who knows.