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Carl Robinson vs Craig Dalrymple: What to Watch as the Vancouver Whitecaps Close of 2018

The Vancouver Whitecaps 2018 MLS season is drawing to a close. We examine what to look for in their final match, and compare what the Whitecaps have looked like under Dalrymple compared to under Robinson.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps will conclude their 2018 season to forget on Sunday afternoon, when they host Portland Timbers. Having already been eliminated from the playoff race, and unable to win the Cascadia Cup, there appears to be few reasons to take in this final match. In fact, the Whitecaps cannot even really play spoilers, as Portland is already guaranteed at least 5th in the West and are unlikely to finish any higher than 4th given goal differential.

However, fear not, we have a reason for you to attend the final match; two actually! First, Montreal Impact currently sit on 46 points, with an away match against New England Revolution remaining, while the Whitecaps are at 44 points. A Caps victory coupled with an Impact loss means that Vancouver would have the first seed in next year’s Canadian Championship. Translation, they don’t play an MLS squad in the first round and can probably allocate those matches to the young guys!

Second, it will be Alphonso Davies last match as a Whitecaps player. Despite having a short career in Vancouver, Davies has certainly left his mark.

With one match to go, Davies leads the Whitecaps in minutes played (2,334), is third in goals scored (six), and is tied with Reyna for first in assists (11). He leads MLS in dribbles per game (4.2) and is dispossessed far less per game than others in the top ten in dribbles (e.g., Piatti, Quintero, Meram, Elis, Acosta, etc.). Translation, he is more successful at getting past opponents than many of the other good dribblers in MLS.

With little to play for, it would be great to see Vancouver field a very young lineup. You would hope that the former Academy Director, and current interim-manager, Craig Dalrymple would be keen to do this. However, we have yet to see any type of youth movement. In fact, little has changed since Dalrymple took over for Carl Robinson. We decided to take a look at what has and has not changed since Robbo left, comparing his final four matches to Dalrymple’s first four.

Comparing Robinson’s Final Four Matches to Dalrymple’s First Four

- Wins Losses Draws Goals For Goals Against
- Wins Losses Draws Goals For Goals Against
Carl Robinson 2 2 0 7 7
Craig Dalrymple 1 2 1 5 10

The Whitecaps have moved from a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 under Robinson to a 4-1-4-1 under Dalrymple. However, this has not really led to much difference in the record, or scoring. In Robbo’s final four matches, the Caps had two wins and two losses, with seven goals for and seven goals against. In Dalrymple’s first four matches, the Caps have one win, two losses, and one draw, with only five goals scored and ten against. However, it is worth noting that Dalrymple’s schedule has been tougher, with away matches at LAG, TFC, and LAFC, and a home match against SKC. In comparison, two of Robbo’s final four matches were against the worst team in MLS (by FAR!), San Jose; which they almost lost one of those matches.

Comparing Playing Minutes Under Robinson and Dalrymple

Opponent at SJC vs SJC vs SEA vs FCD Robbo Coaching at LAG at TFC vs SKC at LAFC Dalyrmple
Opponent at SJC vs SJC vs SEA vs FCD Robbo Coaching at LAG at TFC vs SKC at LAFC Dalyrmple
Result Win: 3-2 Win: 2-1 Loss: 2-1 Loss: 2-1 Minutes Change Loss: 3-0 Win: 2-1 Loss: 4-1 Draw 2-2 Minutes
Marinovic 90 90 90 90 360 - 90 90 90 90 360
Nerwinski 90 90 90 90 360 - 90 90 90 90 360
Waston 90 90 90 90 360 - 90 90 - 90 270
Henry - - 90 90 180 - 90 90 - 90 270
Maund 90 90 - - 180 - - - 90 0 90
Aja - - - - 0 - 0 0 90 - 90
Levis 0 90 53 45 188 - 0 88 77 90 255
de Jong 56 - - - 56 - 90 0 13 - 103
Ghazal 35 90 70 64 259 - 80 75 - 90 245
Felipe 55 0 0 0 55 - 28 2 69 0 99
Mutch - - 20 26 46 - 10 15 90 29 144
Teibert 90 90 90 90 360 - 90 90 21 90 291
Davies 90 90 90 90 360 - 90 69 - 90 249
Shea - 1 37 - 38 - 62 90 68 90 310
Techera 90 71 90 90 341 - 28 - 22 - 50
Mezquida 34 19 82 45 180 - 62 0 90 0 152
Reyna 90 89 0 90 269 0 90 - 61 151
Kamara 72 81 90 90 333 - 90 90 89 - 269
Hurtado 18 9 8 0 35 - 0 21 90 70 181
Blondell 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 20 20

In defense, the back four (five if you include Marinovic) has remained the same, with Nerwinski, Waston, Henry, and Levis starting, except for international callups. You might think that Levis is playing more under Dalrymple, but in Robbo’s last four matches de Jong only played in the SJC away match, in which he gave up a penalty. In his only start under Dalrymple (LAG) he also gave up a penalty.

The move away from starting two defensive midfielders makes comparing this position a bit difficult. However, Ghazal and Teibert have remained ever-present in the lineup. Dalrymple’s decision to move Teibert forward in the formation seems to have paid off as he scored his first goal in five years against TFC.

In attack, things have been fairly status-quo, with Reyna and Kamara starting unless away on international duty or serving a suspension; something both have had to do under Dalrymple. As like under Robinson, Mezquida has played in place of Reyna in the Dalrymple era, while Hurtado has leapfrogged ‘big’ off-season signing Anthony Blondell to start in Kamara’s absence.

In the midfield, it might seem like there are some major changes, but probably fewer than you think. Felipe has been stapled to the bench, playing only 99 minutes under Dalrymple. In his only start, against SKC, he did score his first goal as a Whitecaps. However, it is important to remember that Felipe sat out the last three matches under Robbo, having last played at SJC for 55 minutes. Something happen behind the scenes that we are unaware of?

Where we have seen a change in the midfield is with Techera. In Robbo’s final four matches, Techera played 341 minutes. Since Dalrymple has taken over, he has played 50, not even making the 18 in two matches. Those minutes appear to have gone to Shea, who saw 38 minutes in Robbo’s final four, but has started every match since Dalrymple has taken over, playing 310 minutes. Mutch has also gained playing time under Dalrymple, doubling his minutes (115 versus 46), but that could be attributed to being injured during Robbo’s tenure.

The question then is what has led to the changes; specifically Techera and Mutch? This could be a situation where Dalrymple is playing his high-priced guys, as Shea is the club’s second highest earner ($745,000). The more likely scenario is that players are being rewarded for their work ethic in practice. Techera and Blondell do not have the best reputation for being the hardest workers in training, while players like Teibert, Ghazal, and Mutch do have that reputation. Of course, a third possible answer is that there is division within the locker room between guys who were behind Robbo and those who are happy to move forward. Regardless of the situation, the Whitecaps have little to play for on Sunday. It would be nice to give Davies a fitting send-off, and a win would certainly go a long way to accomplishing that, but it is also important that the Whitecaps look towards the future, and that future is the youngsters. Play your youth!

What are your thoughts on the changes, or non-changes since Dalrymple took over? What lineup should we see on Sunday?