The Vancouver Whitecaps are halfway through the first season of the Marc Dos Santos era (Ok, technically they are one game short of the halfway point but they have a 3 week break so this seems an opportune time to write this). So with this in mind I thought it would be worthwhile to take stock of how the rebuild is going so far.
We begin with have a look at the players who were let go. Was it a mistake to turnover so much of the squad as Canada’s finest football minds suggested? Let’s look at where all those players are now!
Players they didn’t really have a choice with:
There were three players the Whitecaps didn’t really have any choice but to part ways with. Alphonso Davies was sold to Bayern Munich for an MLS record fee, Kendall Waston burned a lot of good will with Whitecaps fans by very publicly seeking a move away after Carl Robinson was fired, and Marc Dos Santos has said in interviews that Cristian Techera didn’t want to stay either. There are debates about how the Davies transfer was handled but at the end of the day you can’t get to mad at a league record fee. Not recouping assets for Techera feels like a bit of a letdown. The Whitecaps, with their self imposed frugalness can’t really afford to let players they paid a fee for go for nothing. The ‘Caps did a pretty good job recouping assets for Waston considering he was basically undermining their negotiating power with public pleas to leave (fortunately Cincinnati couldn’t negotiate a broccoli for candy swap with a consortium of toddlers). You hate to see it, folks:
Brought in to be a ball playing centre back to complement Kendall Waston. That did not happen. To be fair, he’s a regular starter for Union Española who are currently 3rd in the Chilean league but I don’t think anyone really misses him. I honestly forgot he even played for the ‘caps until I was looking at last year’s roster for this article.
Bevan now plays for Western Springs in the New Zealand league. Western Spring’s Wikapedia page describes it as “the biggest football club by number of players in New Zealand” so it’s got that going for it. Bevan is a 22 year old striker with 5 professional goals. I Don’t think he’ll be missed.
Not technically gone yet but has one foot out the door. The Whitecaps paid 1 million for 1 goal. An exchange rate the Venezuelan Bolivar can only dream of.
Marcel De Jong:
De Jong was well liked but he was pretty clearly starting to slow down. He didn’t have an obvious place with the new regime so moving him on was probably best for all involved. He suffered an unfortunate injury and is yet to make an appearance for Pacific F.C
Yeah, remember him? He never played so I guess he might have been amazing but the fact that he went right back to the Salvadorian league suggests that he probably wouldn’t have been.
No appearances gang! Made more of an impact on Whitecaps twitter when someone claimed he was Davies’ replacement than he ever made on the actual Whitecaps.
Ghazal joined Portuguese side Feirense to try and help them avoid the drop. He did not help them avoid the drop.
What you see is what you get with Ghazal. He’s a great tackler but creates absolutely nothing going forward. Whoscored.com credits him with creating 9 chances in his entire career. For context Russel Teibert, who is constantly maligned for passing the ball backwards too often, has put up 9 in 2019 alone. If you want someone to sit in front of your back four and just be a destroyer then Ghazal is your man. But the Whitecaps wanted something different out of their #6 so they moved on.
Franklin is still without a club. I can’t find any reference to him retiring so I assume he’s still looking. He also tweeted this in 2017:
Kike!!!!!! Let's goooo!!!— Sean Franklin (@SFranklin5) October 26, 2017
I can only assume there’s some context which i’m unaware of. Anyway Scott Sutter has been a pretty big upgrade.
He’s suffered a really nasty injury so it’s hard to tell just how much the Whitecaps would have regretted this but honestly getting a first round pick for a player who’s at best a serviceable backup is good business.
There’s no two ways about it. Marky Marc and the funky bunch took an L on this one. Kamara has 7 goals on the brutally bad Rapids while the Whitecaps have struggled for goals. Yes, Kamara is getting on but right now letting him go looks like it was a mistake
The second worst keeper in the league in 2018 by the AmericanSoccerAnalysis.com GA-xGA stat. Marinovic got a short term move to championship side Bristol City in the midst of an injury crisis. His debut led to a semi viral internet clip in which Marinovic is shown to be struggling to make accurate passes or to catch the ball.
Good luck to club legend Stefan Marinovic in all his future endeavours! pic.twitter.com/wzn2WGcsIb— james (@jbcfc_) May 7, 2019
He has been released and is rumoured to be returning to New Zealand to play for Wellington Phoenix (the one professional New Zealand team). I would take Maxime Crepeau or Zac MacMath every day of the week.
Never really found his stride for the ‘Caps. Now plays for the Charlotte Independence of USL Championship. I can’t say the ‘Caps have really missed him.
To be fair, Mezquida is having a career year, on pace for a whopping 6 goals. His passing stats have even ticked up a bit. Despite those facts, Mezquida was basically the poster boy for “surely we could get basically the same thing from an academy graduate.” I suppose you could make an argument letting him go was a mistake but I doubt i’d find it wholly convincing.
Mutch now plays in the Korean league. He has 2 goals and 1 assist in 11 appearances. Considering keeping him would have probably meant making him a DP letting him go was probably the right move.
I would say cutting ties with Richey was a mistake. He’s been a decent MLS keeper and he and Crepeau would have been a pretty good 1-2. But I can see why the Whitecaps preferred the more experienced MacMath. If they’d gone with the inexperienced (though not young, a 27 year old and a 25 year old are not young!) duo of Richey and Crepeau and they hadn’t worked out then there would have been hell to pay. Then again, shouldn’t an academy focused team be more willing to take risks like that? It’s borderline.
Every statistical metric has Brian Rowe as one of the worst keepers in MLS. Giving up assets for him and loaning out Richey (who we now know is perfectly capable of being and MLS starter) in a year the Whitecaps had arguably the worst goalkeeping tandem in the league AND only missed the playoffs by two points was an absolute farce.
When it’s all written out like this you really realize just how much dead wood there was on that 2018 team. It’s kind of impressive they managed to do as well as they did (or that Alphonso Davies managed to get these guys to do as well as they did). But at the end of the day, when you look at each individual player there wasn’t much of a case for keeping any of them, except for Kamara and Richey. That’s how I see it in any case. Next we’ll look at the players who were brought in to replace the outgoing players. I’m thinking the last part will be comparing and contrasting how the 2019 and 2018 teams play[ed] but if there’s anything else you want to be discussed then i’d love to hear it.