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Team Takeover: Who Should Stay and Who Should go for 2021? (Designated Players Edition)

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The Eighty Six Forever Team decides which designated (or former) designated players should come back for 2021.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2020 season has come to an end. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty to talk about! In some ways the offseason is the most exciting part of being a Whitecaps fan because anything could happen in the new season. But before we look forward to what new players might come in we are looking back on the season the 2020 squad had. In this first edition of our retrospective we look back on how the Whitecaps’ designated players (and one former designated player) performed.

Lucas Cavallini:

Data Courtesy of American Soccer Analysis and Whoscored

Vancouver’s record signing initially struggled to find his feat in MLS. It took him 6 games to score his first goal, he missed two penalties in embarrassing fashion and got into frequent card trouble. But despite that he managed to finish the season with 6 goals in just under 1500 minutes, about a 12 goal pace in a regular MLS season. That’s a pretty respectable goal rate considering Vancouver spent the least time in the opposition final 3rd of any team in MLS.

Caleb: I vote to keep Cavallini. For the amount of service he got his returns were quite impressive. If the team is built to his strengths and he gets more chances I genuinely believe he can be a top 5 striker in the league. Just don’t have him take penalties.

Sam: I vote to keep Cavallini. Surprisingly, Cava was one of the few Whitecaps’ forwards who performed below his expected goals rate this year (even if you exclude the pk misses). Despite those struggles though, he was still quite good at creating his own chances, especially given the lack of service around him. I’d expect him to take a big jump next year.

Luis: I vote to keep Cavallini. My faith in him was a little shaky at the start due to his lack of production and visible frustration, but ever since he started to receive better service with the resurgence of Fredy Montero, he’s demonstrated that he could very well be that 9 the Whitecaps were looking for.

Andrew: I vote to keep Cavallini. Any self-respecting Caps fan who wants to get rid of Cava needs to have a look in the mirror.

Ian: I vote to keep Cavallini, feel like there needs to be a better bridging of the gap between his style and the team’s overall tactics. That effort for change can be made on both sides but of the two, it’s the latter that needs the greater overhaul. Otherwise, Cava will languish up front.

The Eighty Six Forever staff voted unanimously to keep Cavallini.

Have your say:

Poll

The Whitecaps Should:

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Keep Cavallini
    (293 votes)
  • 4%
    Not Keep Cavallini
    (13 votes)
306 votes total Vote Now

Ali Adnan:

Data Courtesy of American Soccer Analysis and Whoscored

In 2020 Ali Adnan continued to do Ali Adnan things. He was way above average in attacking stats for a fullback but was weak in terms of defending and ball retention. He is certainly good at what he does but is it worth the downsides?

Caleb: I vote to not keep Adnan. Although I do like him he just doesn’t make sense as a DP and if the team is going to play a back four then his strengths are not maximized. I’d rather spend the DP slot elsewhere.

Sam: I vote to part ways with Ali Adnan. He would be a terrific TAM player, but isn’t well-rounded or consistent enough to justify the current price tag.

Luis: I vote to not keep Adnan. I think he’s had some brilliant performances over his Whitecaps tenure, but his defensive abilities leave a lot to be desired in order for him to be a DP left back worth spending money on. Gutiérrez has shown surprising adeptness at that same position and thus the DP slot could go for a more skillful winger or midfielder.

Andrew: I vote to not keep Adnan. This was a painful decision, as I like Adnan and think that he could be unlocked somewhat by the addition of a quality, DP midfielder, he just is a luxury that the team can’t afford to keep around at the moment.

Ian: I vote to let Adnan go, though not as a consequence of his performance. That’s just a lot of money to bury in the corner of the field in a player who can clearly perform, but has a penchant for doing too much to compensate for the team around him.

The Eighty Six Forever staff voted unanimously to not keep Adnan.

Have Your Say:

Poll

The Whitecaps Should:

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Keep Adnan
    (114 votes)
  • 60%
    Not Keep Adnan
    (177 votes)
291 votes total Vote Now

Fredy Montero:

Data Courtesy of American Soccer Analysis and Whoscored

Montero started the season planted firmly to the bench, was left behind for Vancouver’s road trip to Eastern Canada, and allegedly told his food delivery guy he wanted out (we have no way of knowing if that actually happened but it would be funny if it did). He was then reintroduced after Lucas Cavallini was suspended and was a very solid all around attacker.

Caleb: I vote to not keep Montero. At the end of the day there’s only so many players who can play at one time. If you want to play Cavallini and add a DP #10 then it’s hard to also fit Fredy on to the field at the same time without totally rethinking the way the team is structured. Do they really want to do that after they were just starting to find some stability? Sure, Montero could be a depth piece but he’s a very different striker from Cavallini. Montero needs runners to go beyond him when he drops deep to get the ball. Cavallini needs players to occupy the space behind him so that his weaker passing and dribbling is not exposed. As such they require different tactical setups and are not interchangeable pieces. So if the team is built around the strengths of Cavallini and then you sub in Montero for a midweek game, he won’t necessarily be as successful as he could be. Plus he turns 34 next summer and his salary demands are likely to be high.

Sam: I vote to keep Montero. Even if the Whitecaps bring in a #10 to replace him, the team will still need creative depth, and you might as well cash in on a guy who clearly wants to stay close to family in the Pacific Northwest. Montero and Milinkovic contributed towards well over 50% of this teams’ goals in 2020: you can’t get rid of both of them.

Luis: I vote to not keep Montero. As revitalizing as the Colombian was for the team, I think that he very much was suited to his role and his role only. While he could perform as a 10 in the upcoming season, reality of the situation is that any young player from Europe in the same position as him would get priority to play in the middle of the park, and Montero has already shown that he is not happy to play on the bench, nor does his skill set suit that of a winger. Coming close to the end of his career, I think that it would be mutually beneficial for both the Whitecaps and Montero to look for better options.

Andrew: I vote to not keep Montero. This was another tough call but ultimately I think a lot of what Montero did well this last season (dropping deep to help progress the ball up the pitch; working players into space) can be replaced pretty effectively by the right midfield signings. As a soon-to-be 34-year-old, Montero is, to me, not worth committing the resources behind that he will likely demand and I don’t think he wants to be a mere depth piece at this stage in his career (as the tension between him and MDS probably reveals). Again, Montero is probably a luxury the team can’t afford at the moment.

Ian: I vote to keep Montero. Wasn’t this something we all argued about at the beginning of the season: whether it was worth it to DP a guy in his mid-thirties who had to be on the cusp of a downturn? Instead, we got someone who led by example, who did all the little things right, and was usually the most effective Whitecap on the pitch, albeit in a smallish sample size which may or may not have helped in delaying that late-career backslide people were expecting. But unless the club actually has a playmaking alternative in mind (history shows that in the execs’ minds that’ll be a DCM or an ill-fitting striker, so no, they don’t), Montero stays.

The Eighty Six Forever staff voted 3-2 to keep Montero.

Have Your Say:

Poll

The Whitecaps Should:

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Keep Montero
    (154 votes)
  • 45%
    Not Keep Montero
    (127 votes)
281 votes total Vote Now