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The Vancouver Whitecaps’ Best Eighteen (February 2nd 2019)

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps have added two young players in Hwang In-Beom and Jasser Khmiri (Transfermarkt says Khemiri but the club says Khmiri so ). The signings of Erik Godoy and two strikers are apparently imminent so this might be out of date soon but here’s what I currently have as the Whitecaps’ best Eighteen.

Subs: Crepeau, Cornelius, PC, Teibert, Venuto, Baldisimo, Norman.

Lineup notes:

-People asked about Rose a lot last time. I didn’t forget about him, I just don’t rate him that highly. I don’t think he’s terrible, but I much prefer what Baldisimo and Norman have to offer

-Goalkeeper, left back, and right wing are all positions that could change based on preseason performance. I discussed goalkeeper and left back in the last article. Lots of people seem to have Venuto ahead of Bangoura but I don’t really agree with that. Venuto’s past production leads me to believe that he would be a standard MLS starter. Bangoura’s good underlying statistics (though low production) in a top 5 league makes me think he could be a really excellent starter so I have him ahead at the moment. This, of course, could change depending on preseason performances.

-The lineup would probably be a bit stronger if you put Reyna as a false 9 and brought in Venuto on the left. But Marc Dos Santos has said two strikers are on the way so, in the interests of giving a more clear idea of the actual system that will be used, i’ve put Bair (who’s apparently looking very strong in training) in as a starter.

Summary:

The team is almost complete. A lot of the success will depend on how good those two strikers coming in are. If the Whitecaps bring in a quality striker who can get 15-20 goals then, in my view, this is a playoff team, no problem. Whoever that striker may be, he will be in a position to succeed. The Whitecaps have a very dynamic midfield. Yordy Reyna had the same number of big chances created as Miguel Almiron last season and should be in a better mental space than the start of last season. Lass Bangoura struggled in La Liga but created chances at the same rate as Pedro Morales, and we know how that turned out. Felipe, despite not being used properly, created chances at almost the same rate as Luciano Acosta who got 15 assists and was almost transferred to PSG for an 8 figure fee. New signing Hwang In-beom is coming off 1.8 key passes per game at the Asian Cup, despite playing through an injury. If he takes some time off to recover and comes into the season fully fit then he could do some real damage. There is also Jon Erice who was one of the better passers in the Spanish second division. What i’m trying to say here is the the striker just needs to be above average. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a 10 million dollar DP, though that would be nice, it just needs to be someone pretty good.

The defence is a little more uncertain. At the moment it’s basically the same thing as last year but with Jasser Khmiri plugged in for Kendall Waston. Khmiri may have more potential and be better suited to the system but it’s still an inexperienced player replacing a former MLS all star. This defence would look way better with rumoured signing Erik Godoy in it but that would still be a pretty similar setup to the disastrous 2018 backline. A lot is going to ride on Marc Dos Santos’ system being better than Carl Robinson’s was if there is to be an improvement in defence.

Conclusion:

Overall I am feeling pretty good about this rebuild. It can’t be judged fully yet because there are still 2 strikers and at least another defender to be added but things seem to be moving in the right direction. Dos Santos said in a French language interview that he wanted the Whitecaps to be quicker and more dynamic. So far the team is that. They probably won’t compete for MLS cup right away but I think, as long as the strikers they land are good then they should make the playoffs. But, of course, making definitive judgments on the roster is silly until the roster is actually complete. So I will not promise a playoff run, I will just say that I think things are moving in the right direction.