Struggling Whitecaps have a long offseason ahead of them
By Erik Pinto, Contributor
Devastated and disappointed—these are the words no fan or organization wants to be preaching at the end of a long, hard-fought season. However, these were the exact words that Vancouver Whitecaps’ veteran goalkeeper David Ousted mentioned in a tweet following their 2–1 defeat to Cascadia Cup rivals, Seattle Sounders. The loss ultimately knocked Vancouver out of MLS playoffs contention with two games left to spare.
Not only did the Whitecaps underachieve this season, they were made a laughing stock to play against. They tallied the least amount of points on home soil in the entire MLS. With their playoff hopes over, the struggling Caps have a lengthy offseason ahead of them, and in order to eliminate their woes they must try to accomplish three things.
The first thing they will need to do is to acquire a clinical finisher. The Vancouver Whitecaps will not be a title contending team anytime soon if they do not acquire a striker who is capable of tallying at least 15 goals a season. Masato Kudo and Giles Barnes have not proven consistent, and lord knows Erik Hurtado is not the solution. There have been too many consecutive weeks where Whitecaps fans have seen their strikers miss chance after chance. It has been a major issue that has spanned over several seasons ever since the departure of star striker Camilo Sanvezzo.
The second thing that needs to be taken care of is discipline. Order must be restored. Vancouver is ranked as the team with the third most disciplinary points in the league. This means they have averaged amongst the top three in red and yellow cards, fouls, coach dismissals, and any supplemental discipline. As a unit, the Caps must play a more disciplined style, as they cannot afford to be playing games a man down, or with ineligible players because of reckless tackles.
The third most important thing the Caps need to do is to tidy up at the back. Amongst all goalkeepers in Major League Soccer, David Ousted has let in the third most goals, but it’s been his backline that has let him down this season. Organization has been the root of their problems. Opponents left unmarked on set pieces and fullbacks being burned by speedy wingers have been a frequent occurrence in the Caps half. This must change come 2017 if the Caps want to even have a shot of competing for a title.
Although it was a lackluster campaign, let’s not forget this roster was consistently injury riddled throughout the course of the regular season. Young star winger Kekuta Manneh spent most of his season sidelined with a broken foot. Masato Kudo sat out multiple weeks after suffering a concussion and broken jaw. The Caps have also been without Canadian international Russell Teibert, who has been out with a hamstring strain. Therefore, as much as there are fingers to be pointed, some form of consolation must be given.
As we near the end of the MLS regular season, it will be a campaign to forget for all Whitecaps faithful, as their woes ultimately trumped their triumphs. Still, be sure to expect major amendments this offseason and a rejuvenated squad coming into March eager to make its mark.