Season Review (Part 2)
Inaugural seasons are usually a trial by fire for most teams. Although the Vancouver Whitecaps coming into this season had been well established in the lower tier USL (where they managed two championships), the team confirmed that the step up in quality to the MLS has indeed been a difficult transition.
In this series reviewing the Vancouver team, we will begin by taking a look at the defence.
To be succinct, the back line was very inconsistent in 2011. Jay DeMerit was selected as the team captain, on the back of his experience as an English Premier League and Championship League stalwart, as well as his international career with the US national team. He was a solid presence, when available, but his appearances are often curtailed by his frequent injuries.
The standout performer this year on the back line was Alain Rochat. The Canadian-born Swiss international reads the game well, tackles cleanly and is gifted with a nice touch and the ability to play the ball out smartly from the defensive side of the pitch.
Other than these two, the quality of play was quite inconsistent. Jordan Harvey had some nice moments on the left side, but was shuffled from full back to midfield and back again.
Questions remain as to where he may still end up on a more permanent basis. Jonathan Leathers also showed some promise but has yet to show dependability and longevity as a defender. The rest of the squad in defence amounted to little more than a bundle of spare parts.
Quite clearly, the team needs a talent upgrade on defence, as the ’Caps often looked confused with missed assignments while picking up their checks.
This weakness was even more apparent whenever DeMerit and Rochat were occasionally out with injuries, and the team was unable to cover their absence effectively.
Quality in depth will be an essential requirement.
Next week, we will take a look at the Vancouver Whitecaps midfield play this season.