Whitecaps season update:

Out with the old, in with the new


By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

In the last month, your beloved Vancouver Whitecaps have undergone a massive transformation. Gone is cheeky playmaker Davide Chiumiento. It was decided that the tireless Sebastien Le Toux was not the one. And last, but certainly not least, massive frontman Eric Hassli was also given the boot.

I must say, I was not at all disappointed about Chiumiento’s departure. For all the skill he had, the diminutive midfielder possessed a remarkable ability to turn the ball over. His ill-advised dribbles constantly resulted in turnovers. Closely related to his dribbling, his praised passing prowess was generally nowhere to be found, if only because he usually ignored the wide-open man in favour of a hopeless jaunt into a crowd. To top it off, it was blatantly clear that the word “defence” did not exist in Chiumiento’s vocabulary. In short, the Whitecaps got rid of an offensive specialist who was terrible on offence, and didn’t bother to play defence. It’s not to say he was a complete basket-case, especially that stunning ball against Colorado to Le Toux ages ago, but the cons vastly outweighed the pros.

The Le Toux move seems to have caught everyone by surprise. The flying Frenchman had featured in almost every minute of the Whitecaps’ season and was, by far, the hardest worker they had. Vancouver’s number seven seemed to be everywhere on the pitch. One moment he would be leading a scoring chance. The next, he’d be aiding the defence in snuffing out an attack. Suddenly he would be back on the attack. And back in his own end. And then scoring a goal. His official position was listed as a striker, but Le Toux covered more ground than the roadrunner hopped up on something serious. Very sad to see him go.

Eric Hassli. The hulking forward with nimble feet. The man who got as many cards as he did goals. The fellow who fans would chant for right from the kickoff, even if he was riding the pine. The most recognizable Whitecap. Now a member of Toronto FC. The writing had been on the wall for some time when Rennie finally showed the amiable Frenchman the door. With Hassli’s minutes coming mostly as a substitute, and those few minutes being severely low for a player making over $900,000, it was obvious that Rennie’s plans didn’t involve number 29. He may be gone, but he will definitely not be forgotten.

And where do the Whitecaps find themselves after these moves? Sitting pretty at third place in the Western Conference. Not too shabby. Due to the emergence of young Darren Mattocks as the ‘Caps striker of choice, and the outstanding performances from Barry Robson, coupled with the fact that the team is playing well in the system Rennie is preaching, the Whitecaps are finding themselves to be a surprisingly watchable team. A real feat for any MLS squad. And just when you think it can’t get any better, (as of this writing) newly signed Designated Player, Kenny Miller, has yet to step onto the field. For the first time, it can honestly be said that the sky is the limit for the Whitecaps.