After missing the first half of the 2017 Major League Soccer season, due to a metatarsal injury, Yordy Reyna made his Vancouver Whitecaps debut Canada Day, playing 28 minutes in a 4-0 loss at Chicago Fire. In his next 1,000 minutes of MLS play, Reyna would score six goals (five were game winners) and add four assists.
Over the off-season, Reyna had a very public, and probably quite stressful, incident back in Peru in which he was present during a teenage girl’s death and there were questions as to his involvement in the death. After making some bad choices in defending himself, as it currently stands, Reyna is not facing any charges and the death has been ruled an accident. Regardless, it has to have had a substantial impact on his mindset and ability to focus on soccer.
So far this season, Yordy Reyna has played in six matches, starting four. He has had several opportunities to score recently but remains without a goal or an assist in his 338 minutes. Unlike prior seasons, Carl Robinson has an abundance of capable midfielders. The problem thus far though has been that they all play very similar roles; none of which are offensive, attacking, roles. Reyna is one of the few midfielders that has the ability to make a key short pass and/or drive at the defense and score in a moment of brilliance. Unfortunately, it seems that Reyna doesn’t have the confidence to do that thus far this season. In watching him play, there have been numerous times where he has seemed to hesitate just a moment too long or shoot directly at the keeper instead of ANYWHERE else.
One area in which the Whitecaps have long struggled is having that attacking midfielder that can make the key pass or score that important goal. For the second half of last season, the Whitecaps had that player; even if he was playing out-of-position. Heading into this season, there were a lot of question marks surrounding Reyna about whether he could repeat his strong second half of 2017 and how much would the offseason issues impact his performance. After nine matches, the preliminary answers are ‘no’ and ‘quite a lot’.
The problem that the Whitecaps face is that besides Reyna, they really don’t have any other options in the middle of the park. Nicolas Mezquida has been largely inconsistent during his tenure as a Caps. One match he will look brilliant, the next he will disappear. Felipe Martins could serve that role, but it seems he prefers, as does Robinson, to play more box-to-box. Jordon Mutch was played in the role last match, but his strength seems to be on the long ball, rather than the short inter-play.
Without any additional reinforcements, and I don’t foresee any coming soon, the Whitecaps are going to have to find a way to get Reyna back into the mix or they are going to continue to struggle.
Putting aside the opinions of Reyna based on what transpired over the off-season, and focusing on his on-field contributions, what are your thoughts on Reyna’s play and role on this club this season? Where do you see him fitting in, if at all?