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Report Card: Vancouver Whitecaps Preseason Matchups

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Just like that, the Whitecaps are headed for the regular season next weekend. In the first report card of the year, we take a look at some notable showings from Saturday’s double header.

Chicago Fire FC

The Report Card is back for another season, welcome!

Because of the back to back nature of the matchups over the weekend (and the lack of detailed statistics), we’re going to do things a little bit differently than a normal report card in this one. It’s the preseason for everyone!

I’m simply going to pick out eleven notable players over the course of the two (viewable) preseason games I think are worth talking about, either good or bad, and give them a preseason grade. Without further ado, let’s get into it:

Max Crepeau (5.5) : First and foremost, it was just great to see Max back in a Whitecaps shirt after a long road to recovery from injury last year. That being said, he did look a little bit shaky against the Fire, especially when he had the ball at his feet. Max was the first to admit after the match that there was potential for improvement in that department, but also pointed out that it’s something worth working through in preseason games, I’m sure it’s a detail they’ll look to brush up on this week in training.

Cristian Gutierrez (7.5) : Marc Dos Santos spent a lot of time this offseason touting the improvements Guti had made. So far, I feel the same way. His positioning looked much sharper, he was calmer defensively, and he also played a few really nice crosses into the box.

Ranko Veselinovic (6.0) : The Serbian continues to confuse me, there’s a lot to like, but sometimes he seems to switch off, especially on crosses, or when things are crowded in the box. His distribution (against Chicago at least) was also quite poor.

Keishean Francois (7.0) : The 17-year-old continued his strong showing from training camp with a nice performance against Indy Eleven. The decision making wasn’t always prefect, but the intent was certainly there. In particular, he showed off his ability to play quick one-twos on the wing, and also demonstrated his athleticism and fitness with a number of darting runs, which he followed up by tracking back defensively as well.

Jake Nerwinski (5.0) : I don’t want to be that guy, but if Jake is trying to fight for a starting spot this season, it probably wasn’t the best start. Przemysław Frankowski got after Jake defensively, and if the Polish winger’s service had been better, it could have been an even tougher afternoon for the fullback. Nerwinski still looks susceptible to balls coming in to the back post, and was beat out on Chicago’s second goal.

Leonard Owusu (8.0) : He was only on the pitch for a short time, but he made his presence felt in those minutes. The dribbling and passing that the Ghanaian is capable of really shone through in that time, and the moment he left the field (and Teibert moved to a central position) the Whitecaps were noticeably poorer for it. Hopefully his injury is not too serious.

Janio Bikel (6.0) : Not necessarily a massively noteworthy performance, but that’s not Janio’s MO anyways. Bikel looked solid defensively and made a few crushing tackles. He did give away the penalty, but that was more on the keeper than the midfielder. He’s going to be an important part of the team this year.

Kamron Habibullah (7.0) : If you haven’t already, it’s time to board the Kam hype train. In all seriousness though, the youngster did impress against Indy Elven and was buzzing around the edge of the box, presenting the biggest threat to Indy’s clean sheet with a shot which skimmed off the outside of the post.

Damiano Pecile (6.5) : The grade is slightly lower for Pecile because he has a bit more experience with the first team, but it was still a strong showing for the Burnaby native. He and Kam often combined in dangerous areas, and although it didn’t always pan out, the creativity was there. If I have to nit pick, I would have liked to see Damiano be a little bit more decisive on the ball, as he missed out on a few chances through his indecision.

Deiber Caicedo (6.5) : The biggest compliment I can give at this point is that Deiber looks very comfortable in Whitecaps colours, that seems minor, but it’s huge. He wasn’t a standout against the Fire, but I’ve been super impressed with how he’s hit the ground running in Vancouver - it doesn’t feel like there’s going to be a huge adjustment process. I don’t feel like the 4-4-2 gets the most out of him offensively, so I’ll be curious to track how MDS uses his Colombian wingers as the season starts.

Lucas Cavallini (8.0) : Since a tough outing against Bermuda for Canada, Cava just can’t stop scoring. The headed goal didn't really come as a surprise, but his free kick was unexpected to say the least - what a strike. With Cyle Larin in supreme form for the National Team, Cava is going to have to maintain this pace if he wants a spot in the Canadian lineup. This added motivation can only benefit the Caps in the meantime.

Marc Dos Santos (Incomplete) : I’ll be honest here, I don’t like the 4-4-2 with a false nine, and I don’t like the way the Whitecaps defended like it was a World Cup Final up two goals headed into the last thirty minutes in a preseason game. Like, why???

That being said, I’m willing to suspend my full judgment (for a while at least). Without most of your starting backline, as well as a couple starting midfielders, you can’t just plug and play the same tactics, I get that. Even if the Whitecaps are a counter-attacking team, they’re going to need to hold a lot more possession than last year in order to be successful. So I’ll believe it when I see it, I guess.

More importantly, what were your biggest takeaways from the preseason? And where are your expectation levels set as we head into the regular season this upcoming weekend?