All hands on deck for the Whitecaps

Back in 1903 the British government lent the Cunard shipping line a significant sum of money to allow them to build the passenger ship The Lusitania.

The main conditions of the loan (worth about one billion dollars when time and inflation are factored in) was that the ship be fast enough to reclaim the Atlantic crossing record for the British (which it did) and that it be designed in a way that meant it could readily be converted to a battleship in the event of war breaking out.

It so happened that one of the main specifications for battleships at the time was that the coal used to power them be stored in two tunnels on either side of the hull; these tunnels of coal acted as an extra layer of protection against shells fired from enemy boats.

A perfectly logical and effective piece of design which saved many a life in the days when warfare was conducted solely above the waterline.

The advent of the submarine however, and more specifically the German U-Boat, meant that ships were now coming under attack from below the waterline and suddenly those very same tunnels were not only susceptible to damage but also exacerbated the danger as they quickly filled up with water and made any damaged vessel almost fatally unstable.

What was once the first and strongest line of defence suddenly became the area of greatest weakness.

Last season Kendall Waston was clearly the Whitecaps best defensive stalwart, largely because the team were set up to guide opponents to cross the ball as frequently as possible thanks mainly to the two defensive midfielders forcing all forward forays out wide.

The Whitecaps were ideally set up to deal with attacks from above the waterline.

By the end of last year there were already signs that teams had figured out that the low cross was the way to go and this season with the effective removal of one of those defensive middlemen opponents are suddenly finding themselves not only able to hit low crosses but also to run directly at the Whitecaps defence with much more ease.

Nobody has suffered from this change more than Kendall Waston as the previous towering presence now finds himself having to deal with far more threat at his feet than at his head.

This leads to him getting too close to his man for fear of being turned and this getting too close leads to yellow cards which lead to frustration which leads to unnecessarily hot headed challenges.

Waston just isn’t built to deal with attacks coming from beneath the waterline.

So what to do?

In a way Carl Robinson has had his mind made up for him. Christian Dean is still injured, Pa Modou Kah is a Russian roulette of a defender who can only be pressed into action in acute emergencies and Waston himself is out due to both international duty and a likely suspension.

So step forward Andrew Jacobson.

Jacobson made it clear when he joined Vancouver that he preferred to play in the midfield role, but not only do desperate times require desperate measures it could well be that the American is exactly what the Whitecaps need in a central defender.

For while the rest of the team has been reimagined as a much more possession based entity the central defence has been immune to any such change.

Granted Tim Parker is capable of hitting a good pass, but he also capable of hitting a bad one too and Waston and Kah provide either power without any attempted precision or attempted precision without any reliability.

So a player who normally plays in midfield may be the ideal addition; capable of finding the likes of Morales and Bolaños with greater ease and even step forward himself from time to time to help set attacks in motion.

It’s possible such a player could take the Whitecaps to a further level in the development of their passing game.

The nature of MLS makes finding any degree of consistency almost impossible at this stage of the season unfortunately but as the year unfolds it may turn out that Waston’s prolonged absence defines this season almost as much as his impressive presence defined last.

SPOILER ALERT- The Lusitania was torpedoed by a U-Boat in 1915 causing 1,198 passengers and crew to lose their lives.

Perhaps the biggest mistake any General can make is to try and fight the current battle based on what worked in the previous one, no matter how successful that campaign proved to be.

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