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Team Takeover: Who should stay and who should go for 2021? (Young Internationals)

MLS: Preseason-Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Minnesota United USA TODAY Sports

We are back to give our opinions on which Vancouver Whitecaps players should return, this time looking at three young international players.

Leonard Owusu:

Data Courtesy of American Soccer Analysis and Whoscored

Leonard Owusu joined Vancouver in 2020 after a successful stint in the Israeli Premier league. He had some good games and showed some good qualities, but as the chart above shows, he struggled to apply those qualities on a consistent basis.

Luis: I vote to keep Owusu. Despite his shaky level of play, I believe that once he finds his stride and best played position he could offer quite a bit to the ‘Caps. They should continue to experiment with him for at least another year, and as long as the overall season isn’t as bad as this or the last then that should be seen as a win.

Ian: I vote to keep Owusu. His performances were hit or miss, though I often felt like the poorer ones came when he was in a DCM pairing rather than partnering with a slightly more adventurous center mid or a #10 that showed for passes. What a surprise: the Whitecaps need help in the middle! Nevertheless, it’s far too soon to give up on Owusu. Given the time of year, I’ll phrase it like this: I’m Jingles All The Way.

Andrew: I vote to keep Owusu. I was rather disappointed in Owusu this season but I think Sam is right: this might be a case of struggling to adjust to a faster paced, more physical league. Owusu was asked to do a lot at times last season and he looked best when played in a more advanced role. I’m a bit skeptical he will develop much more this season but I think he is worth keeping around to see.

Sam: I vote to keep Owusu. I’m not terribly surprised he’s taking a while to adjust to MLS. This could be a boom or bust season for the young Ghanaian, either he takes a big step forwards, or the signing might look like a bit of a failure. My biggest concern is his lack of physicality at times, he’s a good dribbler, but he doesn’t always come off on the right end of 50/50’s.

Caleb: I Vote to keep Owusu. He fell short of expectations in 2020 (at least of mine, which were quite high) but his previous performances before coming to Vancouver were good enough that I’m willing to give him a second chance. SKC’s Gadi Kinda also joined MLS from Israel last season and didn’t see nearly the drop off in performance that Owusu did so I fully believe that Owusu is capable of offering more. Perhaps in a role that focuses more on his dribbling ability.

The Eighty Six Forever staff voted unanimously to keep Owusu

Have your say:


The Whitecaps Should:

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Keep Owusu
    (113 votes)
  • 17%
    Not Keep Owusu
    (24 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now

Ranko Veselinovic:

Data Courtesy of American Soccer Analysis and Whoscored

One of the most hyped prospects in Serbia, Veselinovic struggled to adapt to life in MLS in 2020. Nevertheless the Whitecaps picked up his purchase option, betting on their ability to turn Ranko from a player with potential into a player who is a top MLS defender. As bad as the chart above is, it is an improvement over his chart from earlier in the season and his numbers took a notable uptick when he started playing regularly with Erik Godoy. So perhaps there are some early tentative signs the Whitecaps might be right about him.

Luis: I vote to keep Veselinovic. I see enough diamond in the rough for the ‘Caps not to keep him on the books for next season. Was he worth triggering the release clause for? That is still up for debate, but if his trajectory continues to be like what it was back in his home country, then the Whitecaps could ham a gem on their hands given they iron out some of his less desirable attributes.

Ian: I vote to keep Veselinovic. Setting aside Veselinovic performance for a moment, let this hopefully be the final time the sign a Whitecaps contract containing an appearance clause. The best case scenario is it gets exceeded early because the player other-worldly. But when they underperform? That threshold tends to be crossed incidentally

Veselinovic was great on his clearances and in the tackle, but needs to improve his passing out of the back and be far more vocal. Maybe he’ll keep developing the way we hope, and I believe he will, but “having an upside” can’t be his upside forever.

Andrew: I vote to keep Veselinovic. About the time Ranko’s appearance clause kicked in, I thought he was a bust. But then he closed the season strong and started showing a bit more chemistry with Erik Godoy. He still looks absolutely lost sometimes and I don’t know how comfortable I am with him as a starter but, much like Owusu, he warrants another look.

Sam: I vote to keep Veselinovic. It’s way way way too soon to give up on Ranko. It wasn’t a great year one, but he has the profile for a successful MLS career, it just looks like he could use so more coaching/situational awareness, so hopefully a full season can provide that.

Caleb: I Vote to keep Veselinovic. I am a little leery of this call but he is quite young, has some potential and did show some genuine signs of improvement towards the end of the season so I’m willing to stick it out with him.

The Eighty Six Forever staff voted unanimously to keep Veselinovic

Have Your Say:


The Whitecaps Should:

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Keep Veselinovic
    (115 votes)
  • 12%
    Not Keep Veselinovic
    (16 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now

Jasser Khmiri:

Data Courtesy of American Soccer Analysis and Whoscored

Be honest, did you remember he was on the team? Khmiri once again had an injury ravaged season. When he was on the field he did not look terribly convincing. He did however manage to get a call up to the Tunisian national team.

Luis: I vote to not keep Khmiri. I don’t think it would be controversial to state that while having some great displays some games, lackluster performances overall and time in the treatment room ruin the investment the ‘Caps made on this player. Considering how little of MDS’ signings for the 2019 season panned out, I believe Khmiri unfortunately finds himself on that list of mostly miss signings.

Ian: I vote to keep Khmiri, but he gets half a season. If he gets hurt again, park him for the year. If he plays, and he plays well, sell him during the next transfer window.

Andrew: I vote to not keep Khmiri. This pains me to say because I was on board with this signing from day one and thought Khmiri was really going to come good as the perfect fit for an MLS CB. But injuries really stalled his development and he just looked off the pace when he got minutes this last season. I think you could find a cheaper, domestic option in his place for that depth slot.

Sam: I vote not to keep Khmiri. This feels like a scenario where it’s best for both teams to move on. Jasser’s physical presence is very attractive, but he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy for long enough. Could he be a decent MLS centreback? Probably, but there’s already three players ahead of him on the depth chart, and the international spot could be better used elsewhere.

Caleb: I Vote to not keep Khmiri. I think it was a reasonable bet and I hope this doesn’t deter the Whitecaps from taking similar chances in the future but I don’t think it’s going to work out with this particular player. I don’t think you can really justify using an international slot on Khmiri next season, as he is probably the 4th choice centre back at this point.

The Eighty Six Forever staff voted 4 to 1 to not keep Khmiri

Have Your Say:


The Whitecaps Should

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Keep Khmiri
    (22 votes)
  • 83%
    Not Keep Khmiri
    (110 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now