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Vancouver Whitecaps 2019 Season Roundup Part 4: Plans for 2019 Off-Season

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Soccer: CONCACAF Nations League Soccer-USA at Canada Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we began our Vancouver Whitecaps 2019 Season in Review Looking Back at 2019. Next, we Graded MDS on His First Year as Manager. We concluded the week by discussing The Potential Futures of Current Whitecaps Players. This week we conclude our five-part series by looking ahead to the 2020 off-season and then doing some fun speculating about who starts next season.

The first question we examined was “What role do you see the new sporting director having going forward?” There were two directions our writers went in answering this question. The first was what ‘things’ the sporting director would do and the second was whether they would be ‘able’ to do them.

From what Samuel_Rowan has heard, “…the Whitecaps aren’t exactly close to closing in on their man/woman just yet, and the role of the technical director will really depend on the background of the person they hire. Whoever it is, I’d like to see it get done sooner rather than later. In my opinion, they’ve already waited too long”. “Ideally, the sporting director will continue to fill out Vancouver’s technical staff. In my ideal world, every area of the club would be run by someone who is an expert in that area. The ‘Caps do a pretty good job of this with their sports science and medical staff, but for some reason that philosophy hasn’t been extended to soccer operations” (Caleb_Wilkins). For Jitsuo, “Recruitment has got to be the number one priority, specifically recruitment with purpose. Finding players that fit the system, whatever that will look like, and avoiding the countless number of bad contracts…”.

Meanwhile, Ian_Jones and Andrew_Bahl are pessimistic that the hire will be able to “do regular Sporting Director things” (Ian). Andrew sees “…the sporting director being largely hamstrung by the aimlessness of the front office.”, while Ian expects “…that the person will still be micromanaged by Greg Anderson and Rachel Lewis into signing players that have a good ‘bottom line’ rather than whether or not they can perform on the pitch”. It will be interesting to see what happens. Do you believe that the sporting director will be able to have an influence on the team or do you see the club impeding them?

During and after the season, the Vancouver Whitecaps have been linked to several big names, including Oliver Giroud. Therefore, we asked our writers “Does Vancouver sign a high profile name prior to 2020? If so, where is that position?

“I am sure they will try. I doubt there’s a big whiteboard on Water Street that says:

Step 1: offer to refund people if they don’t like the way things are going by January 30th

Step 2: say you’re trying to sign big names even though you actually aren’t

Step 3: ???

Step 4: profit

Whether they will be successful, just how big that name is, and just how good that player is remains to be seen.” (Caleb)

The consensus seems to be that the player should be in the midfield, but that it will be a striker. Ian believes that the “…signing will happen mid-January…” but that it will be for a striker. Although he is “…game for Lucas Cavallini if the club can convince him to reconsider”.

The other unknown in all of this is ‘what is high profile?’. “I’ve long been of the opinion that the club seems to have a pretty narrow-minded conception of what a ‘big signing’ is and thus have pretty much resigned myself to it being a striker or highly attacking midfielder” (Andrew). Jitsuo agrees: “High-profile? ... At least not World Cup winner type…I just don’t think that’s the Whitecaps. I do think they find a diamond-in-the-rough type that helps this team build on the foundation laid in 2019. The problem is where do they hedge the bets…and how far could they potentially fall short in those bets?”. “Depending on the definition of high profile. If we’re talking Giroud-type…then definitely not. But someone who’s a solid player somewhere in Europe? Sure” (Sam).

What do you see as the ‘big signing(s)’ of the Whitecaps this off-season? Can they get someone or is it wishful thinking? What is big? Let us know your thoughts.

The final question today was “What is the biggest need for Vancouver before 2020?”

There were some unconventional answers to this question. For Caleb is was “*Wild gesturing towards the whole thing*” while Sam believed it was “A Technical Director first and foremost”. When we talk about the product on the field it was no surprise that the answer was “Stability in the middle of the park” (Ian) in the form of “One or two high-quality midfield pieces” (Jituso). Andrew believes that “a creative midfielder to pair with In-Beom and a young, deep-lying DM to do exactly the role that Jon Erice did, only better”. After a technical director, Sam belieces that “…an athletic and dynamic midfielder…someone with a ‘Jake Grealishlike’ skillset.” The key appears to be that “…there is talent up front…Somewhere you need to find a way to link the middle of the park to the attack” (Jitsuo).

Those were our writers’ thoughts on what to look forward (?) to this off-season. Now it is your turn to let us know your thoughts. What role will the new sporting director have? Will they be able to accomplish it? Do the Whitecaps sign a big name? What is considered a big name? What is the biggest need for this off-season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.