The Vancouver Whitecaps come into 2019 with many questions. In fact, when you look at any of MLSSoccer’s preseason writeups, you will see one common thread: no idea when it comes to Vancouver. With a new coach, 15 new bodies, and 21 departing players it is essentially an expansion team that will be looking to gel over the first few months.
How did they finish in 2018?
On the field, the Vancouver Whitecaps finished the 2018 campaign 8th place in the West, with 47 points. While it was only two points behind 6th place Real Salt Lake, the Whitecaps were never really a contender for the playoffs.
Off the field, the club released their manager Carl Robinson with several matches remaining while the club made headlines, for all the wrong reasons, at their year-end presser where many players aired the club’s dirty laundry.
Who’s in? Who’s Out?
The Vancouver Whitecaps had a complete overhaul of the roster with 15 new signings.
Vancouver Whitecaps 2019 Player Moves
|Players In||Players Out|
|Players In||Players Out|
|F - Theo Bair (7/17/18 - Homegrown)||M - Alphonso Davies (7/25/18 - transferred to Bayern Munich)|
|GK - Zac MacMath (12/9/18 - trade from Colorado)||GK - Stefan Marinovic (11/26/18 - option declined)|
|GK - Maxime Crepeau (12/9/18 - trade from Montreal)||D - Jose Aja (11/26/18 - option declined)|
|D/M - Victor "PC" Giro (12/9/18 - trade from Orlando)||D - Roberto Dominguez (11/26/18 - option declined)|
|M - Andy Rose (12/10/18 - free)||D - Aaron Maund (11/26/18 - option declined)|
|D - Derek Cornelius (1/18/19 - transfer from Javor Ivanjica)||M - Marvin Emnes (11/26/18 - option declined)|
|M - Jon Erice (1/22/19 - transfer from Albacete)||M - Aly Ghazal (11/26/18 - option declined)|
|M - Lass Bangoura (1/23/19 - loan from Rayo Vallecano)||M - Brek Shea (11/26/18 - option declined)|
|M - Lucas Venuto (1/25/19 - transfer from Austria Wien)||F - Myer Bevan (11/26/18- option declined)|
|D - Scott Sutter (1/30/19 - free)||GK - Brian Rowe (11/26/18 - out of contract)|
|M - Hwang In-beom (1/30/19 - transfer from Daejon Citizen)||D - Sean Franklin (11/26/18 - out of contract)|
|D - Jasser Khmiri (2/1/19 - transfer from Stade Tunisien)||M - Cristian Techera (11/26/18 - out of contract)|
|D - Erik Godoy (2/8/19 - loan from CA Colon)||F - Kei Kamara (11/26/18 - out of contract)|
|F - Joaquin Ardaiz (2/8/19 - loan from FC Chiasso)||M - Jordon Mutch (11/26/18 - loan expired)|
|F - Fredy Montero (2/15/19 - free)||GK - Spencer Richey (12/9/18 - traded to Cincinnati)|
|.||M - Nicolas Mezquida (12/9/18 - traded to Colorado)|
|.||D - Kendall Waston (12/11/18 - traded to Cincinnati)|
|.||F - Erik Hurtado (12/14/18 - traded to Sporting KC)|
|.||F - Anthony Blondell (1/28/19 - loaned to Huachipato FC)|
|.||M - Efrain Juarez (2/1/19 - mutual contract termination)|
|.||D - Marcel de Jong (2/4/19 - mutually agreed to part ways)|
Biggest change from 2018?
Everything! While it is repetitive, everything has changed in Vancouver since last season. There is a new coach, a new philosophy, entirely new roster, and a new hope. That hope is probably the biggest change from 2018. Even as a writer for the Whitecaps I began to find it difficult to a) watch the matches and b) care about the outcome. The games were routinely boring and it seemed like the Caps had just as good of a chance to win as they did to lose. If they won it was because of one minor break. They never were the better team, even against the worst clubs. We never knew what their strategy was, excepted to sit back and take a continual onslaught from the opponent and hope for a break of a lucky ball over-the-top. With Marc Dos Santos there appears to be a vision and a guiding principle. He has instilled a work ethic that appeared lacking under the previous regime and he has brought in players that fit his philosophy. No more of five of the same player. No more excellent depth at one position and terrible everywhere else. This is a manager with a plan and a pedigree to see it through.
What are the expectations this year?
For all intensive purposes, the Vancouver Whitecaps are an expansion club again in 2019. As a result, expectations are low. The team needs time to gel and the coach needs time to implement his vision. On opening day we will see a maximum of four returning player in the Starting XI: Nerwinski, Henry, Felipe, and Reyna.
What’s the biggest concern for this season?
The Whitecaps have a relatively easy start to the season, playing teams that were not playoff contenders last season. Unfortunately, with all the turnover the Whitecaps will still be trying to find their chemistry and therefore they will be unlikely to take advantage of the easier schedule. Meanwhile, once they have found their footing, they will be in the second half and facing a much more difficult schedule. You could look at that as a positive; instead of facing the tough teams when not prepared, face the easier teams. However, the Caps will probably lose several games they ‘should’ win as a result and that could cost them plenty at the end of the season.
What’s the new jersey?
The 2019 Hoop Jersey, crafted in conjunction with Adidas, features the return of the wrap-around hoop made famous during the club’s NASL days. For the first time in the MLS era, the primary kit will feature a combination of white jersey, blue shorts, and white socks.
Some of the additional details include:
- Deep sea blue collar
- Jock tag as a nod to the club’s 1979 logo
- “1979 Champions” maple leaf badge
- Red cresting for name and numbers, derived from the hoop kits of the early ‘80s
Projected starting XI
In their final preseason match, against LAFC, Marc Dos Santos started the following eleven. While certainly not their best 11, expect a similar lineup on Saturday, with Godoy possibly replacing Cornelius and PC Giro filling in for the injured Levis