Whitecaps Progress In 2011
It was another frustrating effort, typical of the season as a whole, where for every little thing the team does right, a giveaway or missed marking assignment soon trumps the positivity and sees another ball ending up in the Vancouver nets.
Before the season, there were some whispers that the league’s newest Canadian franchise could surprise many better established sides and sneak into the playoffs. It was not to be, but not everything has been doom and gloom in this unpredictable first MLS season.
Although the ‘Caps have clearly been the most inconsistent and admittedly weakest team in the league, they do have some elements in their favour looking forward to next season. Off the field, their fan support is devoted and likely to be loyal for the foreseeable future. This provides the players with a lift and is an incentive for them to stay with the team despite its isolation up in the North West region.
The Vancouver faithful have some way to go to mirror the intensity shown down the I5 in the Emerald City with the Sounders support, but the seeds have been sown. Plenty of those white and blue Bell emblazoned jerseys are starting to emerge regularly around the Lower Mainland and elsewhere in BC.
On the field, the team has a major advantage, in that they are gifted with two forwards, possessing unique skill sets that complement one another in Eric Hassli and Camilo. Hassli provides strength and touch, while Camilo has speed and an excellent knack for finding or creating space to take shots.
Both players have been quite productive in spite of instability in the defence and at the coaching position, which have both been affected by personnel changes.
While Hassli has tended to score in bunches, rather than the more appealing consistency in production by Camilo who added to his total with the only goal against the Sounders in their second match this season on Saturday evening, both players have demonstrated their prowess at this level.
If the team can retain these two players, then it becomes much easier to build a successful unit. Strikers with a ‘goalden’ touch are at a premium in any league.
Thus, the preferred focus for the close season should be to tighten up things on the backline then subsequently target one or two midfielders capable of maintaining possession, thus linking play from the rear-guard to the frontline and enabling better distribution.
The ‘Caps have spent too much time this season chasing down teams that are able to retain the ball skilfully. This results in tired players in the latter part of games that are more apt to give up late goals, which has clearly been a major problem for Vancouver this season.
With some well-placed additions and a little tinkering with the defensive formation, there is the potential for an extended season next campaign.