Season Review (Part 3)
A Season Review of the Vancouver Whitecaps Midfield. Watching Spain’s Barcelona play their fluid brand of soccer is a joy to behold.
The team features world class goal finishers in Lionel Messi and David Villa, among a host of superbly talented international players, but what really drives the team is their approach to the game itself that stems from their youth sides, through the reserve team and on up to the main squad.
Barcelona predicates its play on maintaining possession and a short passing game (known as tiki-taka in Spanish) that when combined with the smarter movement of the players enables the team to wear down the opposition.
Barcelona averages over 60% possession during their matches, and very simply put when other teams don’t have the ball it is very hard to score.
For the Whitecaps, their season in midfield was in stark contrast to this philosophy of possession, and the players’ carelessness with the ball had a crushing effect.
The Vancouver midfield’s struggles to hold on to the ball put incredible pressure on the defence and keepers Jay Nolly and Joe Cannon, resulting in the third highest number of goals conceded in the MLS this year.
The lack of possession also starved the offence as the ‘Caps managed almost a 100 fewer shots than the league leaders in Sporting Kansas City, leading to the fewest goals at a paltry 35.
For new coach Martin Rennie, this aspect of the team requires the most urgent attention, and he has already indicated that this is one of his off season focal points.
Though no current midfield roster members are untouchable, there does appear to be some promise in Davide Chiumiento, who scored one of the league goals of the season, and Atiba Harris, a creative option when he is healthy.
Otherwise, a wholesale overhaul is a necessity and no other midfielder should feel safe.
As for what must be top of the shopping list?
A ball winning, hard tackling, gritty worker in the ex-Manchester United captain Roy Keane mode.
If the team can at least make a serious dent in resolving this problem, then the Whitecaps could start making some serious noise next season.
Next week, we will take a look at the Vancouver Whitecaps forward play this season.