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Post-Season Dissection I: Pre-Season Predictions Part I

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We begin our post-season roundtable by looking back at some of our predictions prior to the 2018 season...it wasn’t pretty

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the 2018 Vancouver Whitecaps season, our writing staff made predictions on how the season would play out. It was requested by our readers that we evaluate our predictions at the end of the season. For reference here is a link to our Preseason Predictions. In the first of our multi-part year-end discussion, we take a look back at the first half of our predictions, with some comments.

Responses

MVP:

AtlantisB: Stefan Marinovic

CWilkins: Yordy Reyna

TDahl: Kendall Waston

Jitsuo: Kendall Waston

Andrew_Bahl: Kendall Waston

Samuel_Rowan: Stefan Marinovic

IanJones: Kei Kamara

No surprise that our staff was focused on defense, with two votes going to Stefan Marinovic and three to Kendall Waston. With such a down year defensively, you have to think that the runner-up to Davies in this category could be Reyna or Kamara, with Kamara getting the slight edge in my opinion. Interestingly, none of us picked Davies, despite being a choice. If Davies was not on the Whitecaps, who is your MVP this season?

CWilkins: I wasn’t totally off base as it turned out. Reyna was certainly one of the top 5 players

Breakout (not named Davies):

AtlantisB: Marcel de Jong

CWilkins: Bernie Ibini

TDahl: Anthony Blondell

IanJones: Anthony Blondell

Jitsuo: Anthony Blondell

Andrew_Bahl: Anthony Blondell

Samuel_Rowan: David Norman Jr.

Our team was quite high on Anthony Blondell heading into the season. While this could be looked at as a misstep, it isn’t like the other half of our writing team did any better. My pick lost his starting position, Ibini was let go halfway through the season, while David Norman Jr. is toiling away in the U.K. Although we were all wrong on this, I am not really sure I could pinpoint who had a breakout season. Do any names come to mind for you?

CWilkins: LOL (I picked Bernie Ibini)

Best New Addition:

AtlantisB: Efrain Juarez

CWilkins: Juarez, Kamara, or Blondell

Jitsuo: Anthony Blondell

Andrew_Bahl: Anthony Blondell

Samuel_Rowan: Anthony Blondell

CWilkins: In my defence; 33.3% is a pretty good batting average.

IanJones: Kamara was definitely the biggest addition, and I hope he sticks around for ’19, but you could argue that Tim Parker or David Ousted’s departures led to a respective diminishment in stability or authority.

AtlantisB: Can we just move on from this prediction? Yes…okay, moving on.

Seriously though, did any new addition really stand out this year? Who would be your Newcomer pick?

Standings Prediction:

AtlantisB: 3rd

CWilkins: 4th

TDahl: 2nd

Jitsuo: 3rd

Andrew_Bahl: 6th

Samuel_Rowan: 3rd

IanJones: 6th

A little bit of homerism here? Many were predicting that the Whitecaps would not be in the playoffs, so to many outside of Vancouver, the Caps finish is not that surprising. However, maybe we bought in to Robbo’s talk about his best squad ever. Maybe we were optimistic fans WANTING better. It turns out, we were wrong here.

IanJones: Dogfight? Yes. Respectable? No. Two points from sixth place had me pretty close.

CWilkins: God, I was so close to being smart here, but I clutched defeat from the jaws of victory at the last second. Why did I think that the Whitecaps would be the team that could beat math? I mean, it’s math! It helped us get to the moon. I was blinded by my fandom and a good season that wasn’t statistically sustainable. Well, lesson learned, I’m never doing that again. All hail math.

Additional Thoughts:

Samuel_Rowan: I covered a lot of my reflections on the season in my Post Match against Portland. Long story short, I always backed Robinson’s abilities as a leader and those qualities seemed to let him down this season. Also, the inevitability of “Robbo-Ball’s” collapse finally came to fruition, something which I foolishly bet against. Looking back, I was obviously over-optimistic in my predictions.

Jitsuo: Looking back on these, really makes me feel like going into the season I didn’t have a damn clue what this team was going to be. On the plus side, I don’t think I was alone in that.

A lot of people across ‘Caps land thought that the team would be strong defensively, but could struggle to find the net on the other end. 67 goals against is just not what anyone expected from this side going into the season. Carl Robinson’s model was always to sit deep, make it hard for more technically gifted and possession focused opponents to play, and try to defend and keep games close, while hitting back on the counter.

Then you have the players that looked like they were going to be better than they actually ended up being. Blondell and Juarez. The two ended up being a trainwreck this season. The positive, is that all the rumblings within the club seem to show that there is a desire to fix the model and right the ship - or at least that’s what it sounds like.

Additional Categories (Original Answers in Italics):

Biggest Concern

IanJones: The center of the park. Yordy Reyna and Nicolas Mezquida are creative as heck, but who do the Whitecaps have that can bang with the bigger bodies in the league?

Evident from the year end presser, there are certainly bigger concerns to be worried about, but for on the pitch stuff you could still argue this was the case. Ghazal and Teibert worked well later in the season, but even then it felt like it was in specific situations. Knowing that, I would have changed my biggest concern to “Tactics”.

CWilkins: Not using the DP slots properly

I hope that being so bang on with this prediction will lead to people forgetting my other, less accurate, predictions

Biggest Strength

Ian Jones: Center defense. Even if Tim Parker moves on, an anchor like Kendall Waston being supported by guys like Doneil Henry, David Edgar (if he’s healthy and rarin’ to go), newcomer Jose Aja, and an MLS-proven Aaron Maund will be resolute as hell.

Yeah, I was way off on this. Then again, I think it would have been crass to answer “Lanky Teenagers/Thirty-Year Olds.”

CWilkins: #HeightXI

Well this didn’t really work out did it? The Whitecaps only ended the season with 11 headed goals. Maybe next season we should take it in the other direction. Marc Dos Santos, if you’re reading this, #ManletXI my dude.

Trophies They Will Win (Cascadia, Voyageurs, Supporters Shield, MLS Cup) –

IanJones: Nailed it! *cue sad trombone*

CWilkins: I am not a smart man

Formation (Start of Season and End of Season) -

IanJones: It’ll start as the 4-2-3-1. I’m somewhat excited/nervewracked to see three in the back, but this team has to understand what that formation means and the responsibilities that go with it. Otherwise, why bother?

They came out of the gates with a 4-1-4-1, though sometimes went for the 4-4-2. Pretty sure my formation pick was the least used this year.

CWilkins: 4-2-3-1

I suppose on a technical level the formation changed to 4-4-2 and then 4-1-4-1 but the underlying principles never really changed.

Record at Home (they have been pretty average the last few years)

IanJones: They’ll be on the happy side of .500, pretty close to last year. Let’s call it 9-3-6

Finished at 7-5-5. My bad for somehow working in an extra tie, but would have nailed it had the results against Colorado, Seattle, or Dallas, matched the team’s performance on their respective days.

CWilkins: Slightly Better

Oooof