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Team Takeover: Who Should Stay and Who Should go for 2021? (Young Canadian Midfielders and Forwards)

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MLS: Montreal Impact at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

This edition of Team Takeover takes on a slightly different direction. This article covers Canadian midfielders and forwards under the age of 23. But we realized pretty quickly that we were all just going to vote to keep every player. After all, all of these players are young, cheap, and have shown some degree of usefulness already. Cutting any of them would be pretty dumb (you can, of course, sound off in the comments if you disagree). So to make things more interesting we decided to vote on if the player was ready to be a contributor next season or if they should be loaned out to gain more experience.


Theo Bair

Data Courtesy of Whoscored and American Soccer Analysis

Bair did not take the big step forward that many of us were hoping for in 2020. That said his stat based on success rate and his xG per shot do suggest that if the team overall spent more time attacking he could contribute more. On the other hand though, he definitely could do better at getting involved in the play more.

Andrew: I vote to keep Bair in the first team. Bair was really hurt by the tactics this season, as he often found himself thrown on when the team was already 1 or 2 goals down and MDS was throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks. He certainly needs consistent minutes but I think the departure of Montero will mean there might be more of an opportunity there for Bair to make an impact. If he is still struggling after preseason, a loan might be worth exploring, however.

Caleb: I vote to keep Bair in the first team. Although he did not take the big step we were hoping for I still think he can be a useful player in the present, and a key player in the future. Right now he is essentially Cavallini with worse shot quality and quantity but much better dribbling and passing. We know Cavallini is likely to miss some time due to suspensions so it makes sense to have a young striker with a roughly analogous skill set to step into the team when that happens. I would, however, like to see him impose himself on the game more.

Luis: I vote to keep Bair. I don’t think the Whitecaps should be spending more money than necessary on striker, as Theo Bair has shown flashes of promise during previous games in his natural position. The problem here being that he needs to establish himself in his proper position and figure out what his preferred role is. It seems that he can’t decide whether he wants to be an agile striker or a hold up traditional number 9 role, and that is something that needs to be developed quick for his sake. I think training with the first team and getting a handful of minutes should allow his confidence and level to reach that of what he’s promised, and this all depends on what the coaching situation next year is.

Sam: I vote to loan out Bair. This is more so for his own growth than the benefit of the team. Cavallini is the clear starter up top and MDS/Schuster obviously have different plans for who they would like to start on the wing. At this stage in Bair’s development, he needs to be playing consistent minutes, and I feel like the only way to do that (for now) is to go elsewhere. I don’t like that that’s the case, but I just don’t trust the coaching staff is to give him enough minutes where it won’t stunt his development.

Ian: I vote to keep Bair. The skillset is there, even if it felt like there was a bit of regression in 2020, but he ultimately should not go anywhere. More than anything, Bair needs to come out of his shell and know that he belongs rather than just think it, even if it comes across as unearned for the time being.

The Eighty Six Forever Staff voted 4-1 to keep Bair in the first team.

Have Your Say:

Poll

The Whitecaps Should

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Keep Bair in the First Team
    (61 votes)
  • 57%
    Loan Bair
    (82 votes)
143 votes total Vote Now

Ryan Raposo

Data Courtesy of Whoscored and American Soccer Analysis

Ryan Raposo showed some flashes of skill but overall struggled in his first professional season. Hilariously he did not even attempt a single shot. His passing and pressing were, however, pretty decent.

Andrew: I vote to keep Raposo. I can see an argument for a loan but I think its worth remembering that MDS was really high on the guy coming off of a strong preseason/pre-pandemic run of games. He seemed to lose his confidence and the way he was used took the wind out of his sails as the season went on. He is a bit of a tweener — too strong for CPL and not quite ready for prime time in MLS. I agree with Sam that this could still make him useful depth, however.

Caleb: I vote to loan Raposo. Those are some very “not quite ready for MLS” numbers. That’s fine, it was Raposo’s first professional season and that take some adaptation. But I think it would be best for his development for him to play regularly at a level that he’s more suited too. His decent passing numbers and the few flashes of skill he showed do suggest there is talent to be developed there so he’s very much worth keeping around but I think it might be best for him to take a step back in order to take a step forward.

Luis: I vote to keep Raposo. Raposo showed his skill in preseason, impressing with his agility and passing, and much of that was seen during the game against the Galaxy in the beginning of the season. From his university reputation and the highlights available to see, he seems like a player that could offer the Whitecaps some developmental hope. Unfortunately, I believe that having limited minutes and a negative playing style stunted his development and have resulted in bad performances as the season drew to a close. I would like to see Raposo improve under a better functioning team with clear support and identity before ruling him as a draft pick flop.

Sam: I vote to keep Raposo. It really depends what the club chooses to do roster wise this offseason, especially with their DP’s, but I can see Raposo being a useful bench contributor. It’s only going to be Raposo’s second pro season, so I think there’s a timeline where he goes from squad depth to fringe starter by year three. It may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but the fact that Raposo is a bit further away from being a full-time starter actually makes him the better player to keep (as compared to Theo) the way I see it.

Ian: I vote to keep Raposo. What I ultimately feel Raposo would benefit from is a Wyld Stallyns-esque, sixteen-month intense football training program à la Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. But since the Whitecaps cannot benefit from a deus ex machina of time travel, it really comes down to Raposo not just getting minutes, but making them meaningful. Part of me thinks a loan out would be a confidence killer for Raposo; instead, I’d rather see him spend the off-season focusing on his agility and spatial awareness (and maybe studying some Fredy Montero game film). Moving to space, turning to distribute, and making off-the-ball runs should become his trademark, and a loan out only works if its guaranteed that those habits are reinforced.

The Eighty Six Forever Staff voted 4-1 to keep Raposo in the first team.

Have Your Say:

Poll

The Whitecaps Should

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Keep Raposo in the First Team
    (59 votes)
  • 53%
    Loan Raposo
    (69 votes)
128 votes total Vote Now

Patrick Metcalfe

Data Courtesy of Whoscored and American Soccer Analysis

Marc Dos Santos has said that Metcalfe needs to be more confident in games. Based on this chart that’s definitely true. Metcalfe’s passing was accurate and he completed a lot of passes above expected but he was also ultra conservative. Generally speaking he did not impose himself on the game enough.

Andrew: I vote to loan Metcalfe. Didn’t really make an impact in the chances he got but I think his skillset is something that is useful long term. He needs to improve physically and mentally and a CPL loan seems like a pretty obvious place for him to do that and seems to be a good fit for where his level of play is at right now.

Caleb: I vote to loan Metcalfe. Like with Raposo, Metcalfe has a few stats that are pretty decent but overall the stats and the eye test show he’s not quite ready for MLS. At 22, Metcalfe is the oldest player discussed in this article but he is still around the same age of lots of players that will be taken in this year’s super draft so he is not a lost cause by any means. I would like to see what he can do in a more prominent role with a CPL team.

Luis: I vote to loan Metcalfe. I think a move to the CPL would best suit him developmentally and career-wise. With how the club seems to be taking their shopping plus the development of players already on the squad, it seems that there won’t be much that could cause him to stand out, so sending him out to a place where he can shine could mold him into a solid sub option for the future.

Sam: I vote to keep Metcalfe. The reality is that the celling on Patrick feels the lowest of these four players. That being said, there’s little to dissuade me from the fact that Metcalfe could serve as a backup to Janio Bikel, or even replace a guy like Russell Teibert in the squad. I think this one ultimately might be up to the player: does he want to go chase a starting role in the CPL, or would he prefer to keep honing his trade at the MLS level?

Ian: I vote to loan Metcalfe. In all honesty, out of the four players we’re looking at today I know the least about Metcalfe, which is fairly telling. Without knowing what goes on at training and how he performs day-to-day, I get the sense there’s a need for further development and strengthening as opposed to honing a skillset. To me, that translates into a transfer elsewhere for needed minutes.

The Eighty Six Forever Staff voted 4-1 to loan Metcalfe.

Have Your Say

Poll

The Whitecaps Should

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Keep Metcalfe in the First Team
    (9 votes)
  • 92%
    Loan Metcalfe
    (119 votes)
128 votes total Vote Now

Data Courtesy of Whoscored and American Soccer Analysis

Baldisimo came back from a year long injury to prove himself as a solid, though rough around the edges, MLS midfielder. He outshone other Whitecaps midfielders in passing directness and passes into the final 3rd by a very wide margin. Some of his defensive work and decision making still needs to develop but overall Baldisimo did very well in 2020.

Andrew: I vote to keep Baldisimo in the first team. Baldisimo needs to not just be with the first team but be a starting player if the Caps are going to find any success. The revelation that Baldi became was the biggest upside of the season for Vancouver and he will only get better as his defensive skills get more refined.

Caleb: I vote to keep Baldisimo in the first team. He rules. True, his defending needs a bit of work but Janio Bikel starts every game and he offers defense almost exclusively. What’s the point of having a player like that if not to facilitate more attacking players? Baldisimo’s greatest asset is his ability to play the ball forwards. Only Fredy Montero played more passes into the final 3rd per 90 minutes on the Whitecaps in 2020. The Whitecaps had the fewest final 3rd entries in the entire league, but the second highest xG per shot. That means that they turned final 3rd entries into high quality scoring chances at a pretty impressive rate and therefore that players who can reliably play the ball into the final 3rd are super valuable to them!

Luis: I vote to keep Baldisimo. How could anyone not want this? In an overall sour season, he was one of the few sweet points fans could really get excited about. I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said before, but this is a player that could be a potential future mainstay in the Whitecaps midfield.

Sam: I vote to keep Baldisimo. This one is a no-brainier. His medical history and rawness likely mean that he won’t be ready to start every match in 2021, but he will be a great rotational piece in the midfield, and has already proven that he can provide spark off the bench. Baldy deserves to be playing at the MLS level and anything short of that would be doing him a disservice.

Ian: I vote to keep Baldisimo. Answering this question is as perfunctory as it gets, which feels a little odd when realizing how buried on the bench Baldi was prior to the transfer of Hwang In-beom. But after watching a little more than half a shortened season of passes being successfully sprayed into the final third, a characteristic the Whitecaps have been lacking for some time, I’m of the opinion that Baldismo should be making appearances all the damn time in 2021.

The Eighty Six Forever Staff voted unanimously to keep Baldisimo in the first team.

Have Your Say:

Poll

The Whitecaps Should

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    Keep Baldisimo in the First Team
    (133 votes)
  • 2%
    Loan Baldisimo
    (3 votes)
136 votes total Vote Now