Good Friday morning Caps fans. If your neck of the woods is anything like mine spring is starting to emerge in full force (as, I might add, are allergies).
It was a jammed packed week at work but that didn’t stop me from mulling over some of the more important questions in my mind including, but not limited to, an all-time Whitecaps XI.
This came out of an endeavor another blog site did for their respective team (it was Monday and the salient details now escape me). Upon some further research I realized this website has never properly pursued the question of what the best lineup in modern club history would look like. What better time to change that than quarantine?
It actually turned out to be a lot easier than I imagined—while the club has had a major amount of turnover in its existence, it also has a rather clear upper crust of player that has developed over time. Etienne Barbara, Jordan Smith and Paolo Tornaghi (apologies to the man bun) did not make the cut, OK.
Without further ado, let’s look at who did.
Perhaps the easiest decision on a roster that had a fair number of easy decisions, there just is no netminder in modern club history that could compare to the Great Dane. As we dissected a few weeks back in breaking down the best save in club history, his level of play was simply unmatched. Over a three-year period he led the league in clean sheets (2014), was an all star (2015 and 2016) and was runner up in the Goalkeeper of the Year voting (2015). Max Crepeau may someday match that level of production but for now Ousted is the only real option here.
Honorable Mention: Crepeau
Left Back—Jordan Harvey
This was one I went back and forth on a fair amount. Harvey is, in many respects, the obvious choice here. He is the club’s all time appearance leader with 193 and his six-year tenure in Vancouver coincided with the club’s best ever defensive performances. I seriously considered YP Lee for this slot. While significantly older, Lee probably had a better peak despite the fact he was only in Vancouver for two years. His signing was viewed as a coup at the time, despite his age, and he also presaged the club trying to make significant overtures to the Korean market. But Harvey’s dependability wins out—in 2014 he started all but one match and while not the sexiest left back, he was a consistent force at the position.
Honorable Mention: Lee, Ali Adnan
Center Back—Kendall Waston
The Big Man was mercurial, to be sure, and his departure from the club left a sour taste in the mouths of some. But he was the anchor on the 2015 team widely regarded as the best in the league and his aerial presence is second-to-none in club history. Waston was the easy choice here.
Honorable Mention: Donneil Henry
Center Back—Jay DeMerit
Another tricky choice but I didn’t want to entire backline to mirror the 2015 team and DeMerit most ... merited this slot anyway I think. Worthy of inclusion on the basis of being named the first captain in club history and a real fan favorite, DeMerit’s three seasons in Vancouver were rock solid, despite his age and injury issues, which were on full display in 2011. But a healthy DeMerit was good enough to make the all star team a year later. He was not selected for the U.S. Men’s National Team while in Vancouver but certainly could have been given the fact that he maintained a high level of play.
Honorable Mention: Tim Parker
Central Midfield—Matias Laba
It is easy to forget how good Laba was at his peak given that the club has tried, and largely failed, to replicate his contributions ever since. But he was an absolute destroyer, efficient as a passer and not afraid to get stuck in. Part of the reason that 2015 team was so good was because it was nigh impossible to play up the middle of the park—all thanks to Laba. Another straightforward choice for inclusion.
Honorable Mention: Gershon Koffie
Central Midfield—Russell Teibert
Often derided and taken for granted by the fanbase, Rusty deserves inclusion on the list for his workman-like approach and energy which has helped him become the lone main stay on a roster of seemingly constant change. In the down seasons, he is often the only player still giving it all by season’s end; in good seasons, he is a key cog at best, a solid depth piece at worst. No other player made sense here.
Honorable Mention: Androny Tchanibson
Left Wing—Alphonso Davies
Honorable Mention: Cristian Techera
CAM: Pedro Morales
A player who perhaps looms larger in my mind given that my formative fandom building years overlapped with Morales, he still holds the crown of as both the club’s modern assist leader. One of the finest set piece takers in Caps history, at his peak he was among the best at his position in the league. Another obvious inclusion
Right Wing—Kekuta Manneh
Manneh is the only player on here who could in some respect be classified as a bit of a disappointment. The youngest player to score an MLS hat trick at the time, Scooter was linked to some of Europe’s biggest clubs but left the Caps inauspiciously, dealt to the Columbus Crew in 2017. Nonetheless, he was a mesmerizing player who is perhaps the fastest player the club has ever seen and who still managed to bang in 22 goals over his time here. The right side was a bit of a struggle so Manneh was a logical choice.
Duh part two.
Honorable Mention: Kenny Miller, Fredy Montero
Disagree with any of my picks? Let me know in the comments and I’ll round up any competing entries we get next week. For now here are some links:
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