We are nearly halfway through our 2019 Vancouver Whitecaps season roundup. We began our series on Monday, looking back at the 2019 season’s very minimal highs and substantial lows. On Wednesday, we graded first year manager Marc Dos Santos. In part three of our five-part series, we explore some players who are currently Vancouver Whitecaps players (or were now) and whether they should be on the squad next season. In part four we will explore some player options for those not currently here.
The Vancouver Whitecaps took the wind out of our sails a bit when they announced the options they were picking up and those they were declining. They even went further and identified which loans they were not extending (or buying) and which they were still negotiating. Finally, they even addressed the Blondell issue. Nevertheless, we will look at these various questions but potentially with a slightly different lens.
The first question posed to our writers was “What to do with Ardaiz and Blondell?”
Ian_Jones: Despite benefiting from being able to address this question after the roster updates came out Thursday morning, but I would have let both go if possible.
Andrew_Bahl: Blondell is already linked to a move to Turkey and at the rumored $1.6 million price, would be a no-brainer to move. As for Ardaiz, do we have the receipt somewhere? What’s the return policy in Switzerland?
Samuel_Rowan: Ardaiz has already skipped town and had basically played himself off the team by midseason, so I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing him again.
With Blondell, even though he’s currently Whitecaps property, I think there’s a mutual interest from both the club and player to simply move on at this point. Can’t imagine he’ll be headed back to Vancouver next season.
Caleb_Wilkins: Do not pick up Ardaiz’s purchase option. Do whatever you can so Blondell is not on the team.
Jitsuo: By the time I responded to this, that decision had been made, sorry! Ciao Joaquin-Tonio!
Moving towards some players who are still up-in-the air, our writers gave their thoughts on whether the Whitecaps should “exercise purchase options for Godoy and Chirinos”
Jitsuo: Yes, on both counts.
Caleb: Yes x2. I have come around on Godoy and I think there’s a lot more to come from Chirinos.
Sam: I think Dos Santos will do everything in his power to get the Godoy deal done, but given how well he played this season, it could be difficult to pry him away from Club Atlético Colón. Hope this one gets done, but I’d say it’s a 50/50 proposition.
With Chirinos, I think he’s a player worth keeping if you can, but I get the sense that the asking price will be way too high for what the Whitecaps think he’s worth.
Andrew: Godoy- Yes. He’s a bit pricier than I’d like but I think his potential position flexibility tips the scales in keeping him around.
Chirinos- Hell yes. I’m not sure what people’s expectations were for him but he far surpassed what I thought he would do in limited playing time. I’d like to see what he does with a full preseason under his belt.
Ian: Absolutely yes to both, no second thoughts.
Last week, Yordy Reyna’s option was picked up by MDS. This doesn’t mean that he will be a Whitecaps player on opening day but does increase those odds. Nevertheless, decided to look at him and several other players likelihood of being with the club in 2020: “Are Reyna, Montero, Erice, and Rose Whitecaps players next season?”
Andrew: Reyna- Yes, although maybe that’s more wishful thinking. I do think MDS will take seriously the fact that he doesn’t have a clear role in the 4-3-3
Montero- Yes, I’m guessing his super sub surge in the latter half of the season convinces the FO to keep him around. I think he can still be useful with a better midfield
Erice- Nope, the writing seems to be on the wall here
Rose- His minutes at the end of the season makes me believe that, unfortunately, yes.
Sam: Yordy is a real unknown at this point, I honestly couldn’t tell you either way. I think it might come down to how much interest there is from clubs outside MLS, and how much he enjoys living in Vancouver.
I get the sense Montero will stick around for another season. Fredy is entrenched in the Pacific Northwest with his Church and Coffee Shop in Seattle, and MDS seems to have come around to Fredy near the end of the year after a tough start.
Erice is under contract next season but I can’t imagine that he’ll be back. Dos Santos has basically admitted that he made a mistake in his evaluation of Erice, especially in regards to handling the travel and physical style of MLS. Unless something dramatic changes, I can’t see him coming back next year.
Although Rose didn’t have a great year on the pitch, I think MDS values his leadership contributions enough to bring him back next season. This isn’t necessarily a decision I agree with, but I think it’ll happen anyway.
Ian: Ignoring the roster moves from Thursday, I personally would have kept Reyna and Erice, signed Montero to a contract for less money if possible, and released Rose. But, I would have expected the club to let Reyna and Erice walk while keeping Montero and Rose, because #WhitecapsReasons. I definitely could not imagine the club doing exactly what they did on Thursday: keep all four players (for the time being, anyway).
Caleb: Ideally only Reyna but unloading those other guys will be difficult. I think Rose is the next most likely to be back after Reyna, then Montero, then Erice (N.B, this is not the order I rate them in).
Jitsuo: looks like everyone is back.
Both Carl Robinson and Marc Dos Santos came in saying that they would play the youth, but neither has really put those words into action. Although Davies and Bair have seen minutes over the past few seasons, few other academy players have even gotten a sniff. Part of this is because of their lack of opportunities to play regularly, but another part may be that they are, in fact, just not good enough. This then puts into question the Caps ability to identify and develop young talent in their residency. Montreal and, especially, Toronto have appeared to be able to pump out talent over the last few years, but Vancouver has not. This led to our last question for this part: “What should happen with Vancouver’s prospects [not named Bair] for 2020?”
Sam: The top end of the prospect pool doesn’t look quite as bright as it did a year ago. Baldisimo and Colyn feel a long way away from seeing MLS minutes, and Georges Mukumbilwa should be largely a depth player next season. I’m a big fan of what Vasco Fry and Patrick Metcalfe bring to the table, but they don’t yet have MLS contracts, and if Metcalfe doesn’t get an MLS deal next year, he’ll be forced to move on, as he can’t sign another development contract.
Most importantly, the young guns need a legitimate place to play. Exhibition games just don’t cut it, and with a group of promising U-17s in the pipeline coming up, it’s about to become a serious problem.
Caleb: If they aren’t going to play then they should persue loans for players who are 19+. It’s fine if someone like Simon Colyn doesn’t play a ton of first team minutes because he can still play every week for the academy sides. But guys like Baldisimo and Mukumbilwa need to be playing regularly against pros in order to improve.
Ian: Just play the kids, dammit. Find opportunities to let them grow. Quit burying them on a bench behind players who will give you either half a season or half an effort.
Jitsuo: They’ve got to earn it. Michael Baldisimo’s work ethic was criticized during the season, Simon Colyn also needs to aim for a better 2020 than his 2019, I mean at least Colyn got 5 minutes in 2018. Georges Mukumbilwa appears to have all the makings of a high-quality wing back, but he needs to be challenged to push for minutes in the first team which I’m confident MDS is prepared to do.
Andrew: Absent a better vehicle for getting the Caps’ top talent regular, high caliber matches, I suspect the game plan will probably largely mirror what happened this season: bring one, maybe two, higher level guys forward to get rotational minutes a la Theo Bair (I’m guessing Colyn and Mukumbilwa), while the other players are stuck in limbo.
Those are our thoughts on the player on the bubble right now for Vancouver, but what are your thoughts? Let us know below and stay tuned for part 4 next week.