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Fresno Half Season Player Reports

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Los Angeles FC vs Fresno Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Back in March I wrote a lengthy article about the squad construction of the new Vancouver Whitecaps USL affiliate, Fresno F.C. I contended that Fresno was loading up on mediocre journeyman and that they would likely play these players at the expense of both their own youngsters and those of the Whitecaps. After 18 games Fresno currently sits 11th in the Western Conference with four wins form eighteen matches. Of the top Eleven players in minutes played only one, Bradley Kamdem-Fewo, is under 24. Thus I have been proved once again to be a football genius and you should all bow down before me (don’t put my World Cup predictions under to much scrutiny). But just because a team is bad does not mean that there are not salvageable parts. So let’s go through each of the players on Fresno’s roster to see if they are good and if they possibly have any value to the Whitecaps.

Goalkeepers:

C.J Cochran:

Cochran is on loan from Nashville and has only played three games thus far. He’s been very impressive in those three appearances though and, in my opinion, should be the first choice keeper. The Whitecaps have a pretty good pipeline of young keepers so it’s kind of hard to see where Cochran would fit in but if the ‘Caps are ever in a position where they need a cheap domestic third choice then they could do a lot worse than Cochran. Unfortunately Adam Smith seems to have gone back to Kyle Reynish after the veteran keeper recovered from injury. #JusticeForCJ

Kyle Reynish:

We all knew why Kyle Reynish was about heading into the season. He’s 34 and has been an MLS 2nd or 3rd choice his whole career. While Reynish has made a lot of saves, due to Fresno’s defence being pretty bad, i’ve never seen him so anything that Sean Melvin or Spencer Richey couldn’t do.

Sam Howard:

hasn’t played yet

Defenders:

Zach Ellis-Hayden:

Despite only making 6 appearances the Canadian fullback is Fresno’s assist leader with 3. His underlying numbers are quite good to so it’s odd that he’s only appeared in a 3rd of the games. He’s a 26 year old who’s never been higher than the USL but, like with Cochran, if the ‘Caps ever desperatly need a cheap domestic player then Ellis-Hayden is worth considering.

Bradley Kamdem-Fewo:

When I was looking up the stats for this piece I was stunned to see that the big French fullback is tied for Fresno’s assist lead. When he’s on the ball he looks like a newborn dear. However when you take a closer look you can see that his three assists have come from four successful crosses which seems wildly unsustainable. His defending is nothing special and his underlying numbers are mediocre. Pass.

Ramon Martin Del Campo:

Fresno’s minute leader is a classic lower league centre back. Big, strong, not so great on the ball. Del Campo doesn’t offer the Whitecaps anything they don’t already have in spades except maybe a friend for Jordon Mutch to discuss his distaste for immigrants with.

Mickey Daly:

I’ve watched more or less every Fresno game and pretty much the only tangible thing I can remember Daly doing is scoring an own goal. Hard Pass.

Alberto Navarro:

I’ll be honest, I had to look up who he was. He’s only played six games and his stats are mediocre at best.

Alex Cooper:

Cooper was one of the players who I cited as a prime example of a mediocre veteran. This was based on his mostly being a squad player in the Scottish championship. But Cooper has emphatically proved me wrong. He’s been excellent for Fresno both going forward and defending. I probably wouldn’t sign him to the Whitecaps because he’s an international and the ‘Caps basically already have the same player in Brett Levis, but Cooper deserves recognition for his excellent play.

Justin Fiddes:

Vancouver’s first round draft pick in 2018 has thus far played 3 games for Fresno. He hasn’t played the last couple games which I assume is due to injury but it’s kind of hard to tell with Fresno because they don’t really release information like that. He’s been alright in his limited time but not exactly dominant. We’ll probably have to wait for a bigger sample size to see what he’s made of.

Sam Strong:

The former U.S U-23 international hasn’t made an appearance in league play yet. He’s only 21 and his pedigree suggests he might be of interest but he hasn’t been given a chance to show what he can do yet.

Cory Brown:

Vancouver’s third round draft pick in 2018 has broken into the first team over the past month. He’s only 5’9 which is short for a centre back but he’s also 187 pounds. He is, as the kids say, Thicc. Brown’s height hasn’t seemed to cause him to many problems thus far and he looks pretty decent on the ball but his underlying numbers are a bit meh. He’s also had a few lapses in concentration which have lead to opposition goals. He’s only 22 though so there’s room to grow. I doubt we ever see him in a ‘Caps shirt but i’d give him another year or two in Fresno and see what he does.

Midfielders:

Rony Argueta:

meh

Milton Blanco:

Blanco’s role at Fresno is mostly to be a veteran presence on their PDL team and make occasional cup appearances. He’s not of any interest to Vancouver

Agustin Cazarez:

He’s better than Argueta but at 28 he’s not an MLS player and never will be. He’s a decent ball winner at USL level and that’s about it.

Pedro Ribeiro:

A striker for most of his career, Ribeiro has played excellently as a central midfielder. His size allows him to bully the other team off the ball and he’s a threat from long range. For some reason though Fresno have gone back to playing him as a #10 or as a striker where his clumsiness and lack of finesse mean he’s not as effective. If the Whitecaps didn’t already have a million other defensive midfielders he’d be worth giving a look.

Danny Barrera:

Barrera has been reasonably impressive. He’s scored some important goals and has created 28 chances in 18 appearances. He’s at just under 2.0 key passes per 90, a very impressive total. Unfortunately for him he only has one assist because Fresno’s strikers are total scrubs. Barrera is 28 which is maybe a bit old for a player you pick up from your USL affiliate but he’d probably be cheap and wouldn’t take up an international slot. Maybe Vancouver gives him a preseason trial next year sees what he does.

Matthew Baldisimo:

The Whitecaps prospect has played in only one league game for Fresno thus far. He’s been behind the painfully average Argueta and Cazarez. At 21 Baldisimo needs to be playing if he wants to be something in the professional game. The best thing for all parties is probably for Baldisimo to join a CanPL team and for the Whitecaps to keep his MLS rights.

Noah Verhoevan:

the 18 year old Whitecaps prospect has been tremendous in his first pro season. He’s a great dribbler, doesn’t lose the ball in silly ways and is pretty good defensively. He’d be a great fit as a winger in Vancouver’s 4-4-2 system and would be a lot cheaper (maybe more productive as well) than Bernie Ibini or Brek Shea. Verhoevan only has 1 assist thus far but this is because, as mentioned earlier, Fresno’s strikers are pathetically bad. Verhoevan is at about 1.5 key passes per 90 which, under normal circumstances, one would expect to lead to some assists. If Verhoevan doesn’t get a first team contact next year then Vancouver aren’t doing this affiliate thing right.

Terran Campbell:

Whitecaps prospect Campbell has spent the season either sitting on the bench or scoring vital goals to push Fresno into the next round of the U.S Open Cup. It’s maddening. The one time Campbell was played in his correct position for a full match he scored a goal and assisted another. In the next cup match he was inexplicably played as a wing back and was, of course, underwhelming. Campbell has a lot of potential but he’s not going to reach it at Fresno. The sooner the ‘Caps get him out of there the better for everyone.

Abdul Alhassan:

I’m pretty sure at this point that Fresno just made him up.

Juan Pablo Caffa:

By far Fresno’s best player. Unfortunately he’s 33 so he’s not of much interest to Vancouver.

Jemal Johnson:

I was quite harsh on Johnson at the start of the year but his goalscoring record is hard to argue with. He leads Fresno with 7 goals. I have to say he never looks all that good and his 23% conversion rate probably isn’t that sustainable but nobody else on Fresno is scoring goals with any kind of regularity so beggars can’t be choosers. He’s 32 so probably not of much interest to the Whitecaps but he’s shown me a thing or two.

Strikers:

Jose Cuevas:

Will no doubt go down in history as being on the team

Christian Chaney:

Chaney is authentically awful. He can’t finish, can’t pass, and doesn’t really do anything you’d want from a striker. His only redeeming quality is that he’s big but even then his aerial numbers are terrible. I’d be disappointed if my VISL team signed Chaney, never mind the Whitecaps.

Renato Bustamente:

He’s better than Chaney but that’s about all I can say for him.

Franck Tayou:

Fresno’s most recent signing has only played 3 games so you never know what he could be but i’m sure you’ll forgive me for being skeptical that a 28 year old signed from an indoor team is going to be the next big thing.

Rodolfo:

The only Fresno striker worth anything is a loanee from Palmeiras. He’s only made 5 appearances but he’s demonstrated some real skill and cunning in all that time. He hasn’t scored but he did impressively set up a goal with a back heel and create some other chances. He’s mysteriously disappeared in the last month and i’m not sure if that’s due to injury, his loan ending (Fresno still list him on their website), or Adam Smith’s love for PDL level strikers but the sooner he’s back in the team the better. It’s a bit hard to see where the Whitecaps might fit him in but i’d definitely keep an eye on him. At 24 he’s not exactly a prospect but he’s still pretty young and has a lot of talent.