With crunch time very much here and the race for the post-season intensifying, the Whitecaps are struggling. It's bad timing for the Vancouver squad, who have gone winless in their last four MLS Regular Season matches, dropping to 7th in the West, two points behind Portland for the final play-off position. It's been a frustrating stretch for the Whitecaps in what has been a disappointing season so far. The blame is being sprayed all over the place; The attack isn’t good enough, the backline not consistent enough. Hell, it seems the only player that has been bringing his ‘A’ game on a regular basis is Goalkeeper David Ousted, who has easily established himself as the Whitecaps MVP this season. There’s also been plenty of criticism thrown at the skipper, Carl Robinson.
Head Coach Carl Robinson is well-liked by his players and fans, and has guided the Whitecaps to a play-off position as well as adding valuable players during his tenure here. However, the luster is starting to wear off. Some of the stud players he’s added simply haven’t looked very good this season. Kendall Waston, Pedro Morales, and Cristian Techera are just a few of the players expected to bring more to the plate this season, but have struggled. He also made some puzzling off-season moves, trading away Steven Beitashour without any real depth behind him, as well as putting pretty much all his faith in Octavio Rivero re-discovering his early 2015 form at the striker position, something that never materialized. At times, he’s looked simply out of answers when it comes to scoring goals, and this is not a new problem. Since the departure of Camilo, the Whitecaps have been searching for some sort of consistency up top, but have failed to land any gems. Perhaps Giles Barnes is finally the answer to that solution, although it’s doubtful he’s any type of a long-term solution if he does work out. While you can certainly lay the blame at the feet of the big name players not earning their paycheques, is it not Robinson’s job to get the most out of his players night in and night out? As someone else discussed in a recent reddit thread I can’t dig up at the moment, Robinson has vastly underutilized Nicolas Mezquida this season, generally pulling him after 60 or so minutes. When your top players struggle, you need to produce more answers than simply, let them play their way out of it.
That being said, Robinson has made some good moves this season, most notably the additions of the versatile Andrew Jacobson, and the young Fraser Aird who seemed to be adjusting to MLS well before an injury. He’s been able to get his younger players some valuable minutes, including 15 year old Alphonso Davies. Robinson has always been a proponent of drafting and developing young players to be competitve, and it may be unwise to cut him loose before we truly see the fruit of his labors. Kekuta Manneh, for example, looked to be taking the next step before he was slowed by injury earlier this season. Of course, detractors could point out that once Manneh went down with injury, Robinson looked like he was truly out of answers. When you base your attack around a speedster like Manneh and then deploy Erik Hurtado, it’s not going to work out that well.
So what say you fans? How long should this leash be for Carl Robinson? Should he be sweating a bit?