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Jake Nerwinski: Where Are You?

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Friday saw Vancouver Whitecaps right back Jake Nerwinski stapled to the bench for the fourth straight match. With little evidence as to the reason why, we are left to wonder: Why isn’t Nerwinski starting?

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

You might remember April 20th, 2018 for the Vancouver Whitecaps 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Sporting Kansas City, which saw both Yordy Reyna and Efrain Juarez sent off. However, what you might not remember from that match is that it was the first this season where Jake Nerwinski was not starting at right (wing)back.

Heading into the eighth match of the season, in Kansas City, the sophomore had started every match thus far. On the surface, it appeared to simply be a situation of rotating players. Jake Nerwinski was left back in Vancouver to rest up for the Caps next match against Salt Lake City.

April 27th came, and for the second straight match, Nerwinski was left out of the Starting XI. However, unlike the previous match, he was on the bench. May 5th and May 11th, veteran Sean Franklin starts with Nerwinski staying glued to the bench.

After starting the first seven matches of the 2017 season, Jake has sat out the past four. We have not been told that he has an injury, and he has been on the bench the past three games, suggesting it is not an injury. Therefore, it begs the question, what is happening?

When Sean Franklin arrived in the offseason, it was expected that he would push Nerwinski while providing some veteran tutelage. During the preseason, Carl Robinson spoke several times about Franklin and that he ‘understood’ his role. It seemed that everything was going well, and that Franklin would be a strong depth player that would get the occasional start. Now though, it seems things have changed.

Looking back at the games prior to Kansas City -2-1 loss to RSL and 2-0 loss to LAFC- there is nothing that really stands out as being evidence that Nerwinski should be benched; let alone for four matches. He does not have an assist yet this season, but to be fair, the Caps have not really been that effective offensively. Moreover, Nerwinski has continued to deliver dangerous crosses.

With the Caps playing two matches this week, I expect Nerwinski to feature in at least one of those matches. However, if he does not, it will certainly raise some questions. If he plays in both, or returns to the starting gig against New England (after this week’s two matches), maybe this will all be a minor blip. Until that occurs though, we are left with the question: Why is Nerwinski Not Starting?

Why do you think he is not starting? Is it because of something Franklin brings that he doesn’t? Has Robbo lost confidence in him? Does he have a nagging injury? Is it just coincidence that it has been four straight matches? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.