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The Vancouver Whitecap’s Best Eighteen (January 23rd 2019)

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been 30 days since we last did one of these. So to jog your memory this is what I had as the starting lineup back on December 13th:

Not great. Let’s see what we’re up to now:

Subs: Crepeau, De Jong, Baldisimo, Colyn, Blondell, Norman, PC.

Notes:

- All three of MacMath, Crepeau, and Melvin are in contention for the #1 keeper spot. MDS has said they are starting at 0 with that position so any of them could stake a claim. I’ve given the start to MacMath and put Crepeau on the bench entirely on the basis of seniority and they could end up in any order by the time the season starts.

-Any of De Jong, Levis, or PC could be the starting left back. We’ll have to wait to see how things shake out in preseason to make a more accurate prediction.

-Early reports (and I mean early because it’s only been 1 day) out of training camp are that Bair has outperformed Blondell so i’m putting him ahead for now. Blondell has more seniority but when I sit down and ask myself “could Bair score one MLS goal off a tap in that may have been going in anyway?” I invariably come to the conclusion that, yes, yes he could.

General Impressions:

It’s amazing how much better things look after three signings. It’s still not exactly good but it is at least a coherent team. Progress! A box to box midfielder and another centre back are musts. But wait! I hear you cry, what about a striker? Well it’s interesting you should say that. If the Whitecaps sign Brazilian winger Lucas Venuto (a signing which Austrian media are saying is done) then it wouldn’t shock me if Yordy Reyna were to be moved into the middle as a false 9. MDS frequently cites Klopp’s Liverpool and Sarri’s Napoli as inspirations, both of whom use a version of the false 9 forward role. Reyna combines the speed to get in behind with the technical ability to bring wingers into play so he would be a good fit for the role. Of course if the Whitecaps bring in a DP striker in the next week or two then this obviously wouldn’t happen but it’s something to keep an eye on.

The defence is obviously not good enough. It’s the same back four as last year but with Cornelius in for Waston. That’s clearly not going to cut it but there is still plenty of time to sort that out. The midfield is passable but needs one more really big piece to be truly good.

All in all, progress is being made and the Whitecaps are almost there. They still need at least 2-3 starters but that’s a lot better than needing 5.