Midfield Question Mark?
In fact, in last week’s Whitecaps 2012 fearless predictions, I asserted that unless the midfield talent is addressed then the improved forward and defensive units would be for nought.
However, in an intriguing move, Martin Rennie moved to acquire fellow Scot Barry Robson from Middlesbrough in the English Championship league, which lays just one division below the Premier League.
Robson is an attractive addition to Vancouver for many reasons. He is offensively minded, with a gifted eye for passing and excels in dead ball situations on free kicks and penalties.
Robson’s versatility allows him to be played in either the centre of the park or on the flank across the midfield.
He is also left footed, a balanced quality that has been lacking for the Whitecaps, and has tremendous experience playing in challenging conditions with teams such as Middlesbrough (currently in the middle of a promotion campaign) and previously for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.
However, Robson does lack pace and at age 33 must be watched closely for fitness and durability.
Interestingly, he has not played for Middlesbrough since February 1st with a severely bruised hand, and since he will be playing for Vancouver following a long, gruelling season in the Championship, the extended year puts him at greater risk of stress and strain overall.
Robson additionally will not play until July, which does little to help Vancouver in the short term.
The official season for the ‘Caps kicks off on March 10th, a full four months before Robson’s arrival, and the team could well be out of the playoff picture by then.
So, for all intents and purposes at this point the midfield problem has not been solved.
John Thorrington, who has featured prominently in pre-season exhibitions has a measure of offensive ability, but has a lengthy history of leg injuries.
Jun Marques Davidson, another recent acquisition and featured player has primarily lower division experience in Japan.
Vancouver immediately requires an upgrade in talent and depth, which will not solely be addressed by a July arrival.
Playing other players, such as Chiumiento out of position is hardly an ideal fix either.
Hopefully, Martin Rennie has a few more rabbits to pull out of the hat or this second season could prove little better than the first run through.