It’s the dawn of a new season for the Vancouver Whitecaps, so there’s no better time than now to gather the team here at Eighty-Six Forever to discuss some of our predictions for the upcoming season.
Be sure to leave your thoughts on these questions down in the comments below. Without further delay, let’s get into it.
What place will the Whitecaps finish in the Western Conference?
Andrew: 6th, lose in the first round (again)
Caleb: 7th. Though I feel like I have not got a good read on how good the team is at all (especially as we weren’t able to watch preseason). I could see them finishing anywhere from 3rd to 9th, depending on how their young players develop).
Sam: I’ve already committed to 7th in podcast form so I’ll stick with that. The Whitecaps have plenty of upsides, but a lot of things have to go right for them to be as successful as they were at the end of last season. At least I’m pretty confident this team will be exciting to watch week in week out.
Ian: 5th, with a one-spot buffer in either direction. The top and bottom clubs should remain relatively unchanged, though I’d swap Nashville for Colorado, making for a six-team pile up in the middle of the table. How many of the Rapids, Portland, Minnesota, RSL, or either LA team will be better than Vancouver? Two, I suppose? Things are going to have to go very wrong very quickly for the Whitecaps to not have them in the upper half of the table. The playoffs? That’ll be a one-and-done, unfortunately.
Luis: I’ll go with an 8th placed finish this season. Losing Max Crepeau will play a bigger factor than many may care to admit, and there hasn’t been enough movement within the team for anyone to believe they have improved defensively. That’s not to say they will have a bad season, but we’re going back to a semi-regular schedule with cross-conference rivals, and the Whitecaps will be tested at grounds they haven’t been to in almost over two years.
Who will be the team’s MVP in 2022?
Caleb: Gauld (could it be anyone else?)
Andrew: Sometimes the obvious answer is the right one. If the Caps are good enough to be playoff quality then Ryan Gauld will be a big part of why and will be deservedly MVP.
Sam: I’m buying the continued success of Brian White and Ryan Gauld. I really want to say White, but it’ll probably be Gauld producing those assists anyways, so I can’t go away from the Scotsman.
Ian: I’m going to buck the trend and say Cristian Dajome. Ryan Gauld and Brian White make a lot of sense if the team can’t stop won’t stop scoring, but Dajome’s work rate at both ends of the pitch will be both subtle and immense.
Luis: Gauld made such a huge difference in the short time he’s been with the team. Give some backup in effective rotational pieces around him and he may be responsible for most of the Whitecaps attacks this season.
The Vancouver Whitecaps had an even goal differential in 2021, will they be better or worse in 2022?
Caleb: Worse, even in the best-case scenario Hasal is unlikely to be as good as Crepeau was last year and I’m not sure the rest of the team can compensate quite enough for that.
Andrew: Worse. The defence has gotten marginally better but losing Crepeau will be a big blow and Hasal will not be able to match his performances, at least not right away.
Sam: I’m actually going to say better, but only just. We have to remember that Andy Rose, Patrick Metcalfe, Michael Baldisimo, and Cristian Gutierrez all had to play at CB last year. I think a full season of Jungwirth and the addition of Blackmon will make a big difference for this team. If Godoy can stay healthy, that’s a bonus as well.
Ian: Better, but barely. The attack was only just starting to look balanced by the end of last season and dare I say there’s a semblance of stability on the back line now, too! If the defensive front can limit opponents into bad shooting lanes or shots from distance, that should tip the scales into a positive GD.
Luis: Tying into my point about their positional standing, I think things will definitely be shakier defensively than last season so a negative GD is on the cards for me. I don’t think it’ll be bigger than single digits, though.
Who will be the team’s unsung hero or surprise performer this year?
Caleb: Sebastian Berhalter
Andrew: He isn’t a fringe player but I’m on the record as saying Caio Alexandre will be one of the team’s MVPs. Expecting big things when he’s back to fully integrated.
Sam: I don’t feel like there has been enough chatter around Pedro Vite. If he can play in a variety of midfield and attacking roles he could have a big impact, especially if the injury bug hits.
Ian: Pedro Vite, because I just want to finally see him suit up, dammit!
Luis: Veselinovic. Although he is someone who finds himself within the starting lineup mostly every game, I do think the defensive switches that the Whitecaps have been forced to make will give Ranko the ability to shine and reflect the potential he originally showed. Given that he is a defender, I think his efforts and contributions may not be recognized as much as if Gauld or White were to have a crazy season scoring or assist-wise. He will be a key part of the Whitecaps team next season, but will be severely underrated as is often the case with defenders.
What is one bold prediction you would make that others might not see coming?
Caleb: Double-digit goals from Lucas Cavallini. Frustrating as he is, this is by far the best service he will have ever had as a whitecap, and the ability to go on a good goal-scoring run very much still exists within him.
Andrew: Caps fans will, for once, have a (deservedly) positive attitude about Russell Teibert from the start of the season to the end.
Sam: The difference between Thomas Hasal and Maxime Crepeau will be negligible. I think the underlying numbers flattered Crepeau and with a more stable backline, especially to start the year, Hasal will be put in a better position to succeed.
Ian: The Whitecaps will have the best defence in the league. You said to be bold, right? That move for Blackmon has not stopped looking shrewd as hell. It brought all kinds of balance and dare I say versatility to a rotatable back-three, even if at one point or another we find ourselves waiting for Godoy to be healthy.
Luis: Ryan Gauld for MLS assists leader. A rising star in White and a new leaf for Cavallini will allow Gauld to improve on his tally of 6 assists in 18 regular season games. This puts him a little under 12 expected assists this season, but now having gelled with his team better his output could improve massively.) I think it is realistic to assume Gauld will reach 12 assists on the season and unexpectedly claim the title.