The Vancouver Whitecaps have revealed their 2017 BMO Player Awards and the top honour goes to Kendall Waston as the Player of the Year. Waston made a huge turnaround from a troubled season in 2016. Coach Robinson gave him the captaincy at the beginning of the season in hopes the responsibility would settle Waston’s game, eliminate the reckless play that had plagued his last season with red cards, and push him to lead the team by his example. It worked. Waston not only largely cut the red cards out of his game, but along the way managed to change the refs’ perception of him. He used to get a yellow card for being a big man in a physical game, now he receives the benefit of the doubt as much, or more, than he is punished for being stronger than everyone else on the field.
But that is not why Waston has won the team MVP. The ‘Caps are a better team with him in the lineup. They win more games, 13-8-3 with him in the lineup. In the games lost to national team duty and injury, the ‘Caps lacked his dominant presence in the air and in front of goal. Waston’s game benefited from a more balanced backline, specifically at right back, and this year he hasn’t been pulled out of position as much helping him secure the back by putting that big skilled body in the right place at the right time. It is because of that kind of stalwart, reliable presence in the central D that the ‘Caps have been able to fashion their identity as a pressure absorbing, get them on the counter type of team.
Perhaps, if Yordy Reyna had been able to play an entire season the way he has played the back end of it, we would be having a different conversation, but Waston is my choice for MVP.The honour is well deserved. Honourable mention goes to Fredy Montero as the team’s top scorer and a skilled playmaker.
Tim Parker, the other CB, wins the Jock MacDonald Unsung Hero award. Parker has continued his solid and steady growth as a reliable and able CB in the league. He committed himself in the off season to mentally take it to the next level and become a leader on the field. Robbo rewarded him on numerous occasions with the armband.
Russell Teibert is the team’s Humanitarian of the Year for his admirable work with Covenant House. In my opinion, this is an award a player can be proud to receive, so good on him.
Rookie Jake Nerwinski took full advantage of the opportunity to keep the RB starting position for himself and win himself Most Promising Player of the Year. His story is reminiscent of the rookie Tim Parker’s, as he calmly settled into the pro game. Nerwinski is a good crosser of the ball and is not afraid to get forward. He has 5 assists on the season.
Sixteen-year old, Jordyn Huitema is the other recipient of the Most Promising Player of the Year award. She played with Canada’s senior, U-17 and U-20 teams in the same year and debuted with two goals in her senior debut. She just may be one of the brightest stars to usher in a new era for the CWNT.
WFC2 Player of the Year goes to David Norman Jr. in his first season as a pro. Check out CWilkins report on his WFC2 season.