Vancouver Whitecaps Season Review: The Defence

In another timeline I don’t get to write up the season review of the Vancouver Whitecaps until early December, but these particular versions of ourselves have ended up in this God forsaken temporal cul-de-sac so this is what we get.

Don’t forget though that you can apply for timeline reassignment by sending Form T4867(a) to the Trans Temporal Authority during the month of December (memo to self: make sure this particular timeline has acquired knowledge of Temporal Jumping before publishing this).

So let’s take a look at how the Whitecaps defenders have performed this year.

David Ousted- Maybe some people would have guessed that Ousted would be out of the club at the end of the season given his contract status but very few would have predicted that his ousting (pun intended) would come before the season end.

The signing of Stefan Marinovic gave Carl Robinson the opportunity to replace Ousted, but what made that opportunity genuinely credible was the fact that mistakes were creeping into Ousted’s game.

Not huge blunders, but enough to justify a switch.

In the end it made no difference and Ousted can leave the team (assuming he does leave) with his head held high.

He was a player who always cared, always wanted to win and who could speak about games in a manner the supporters could relate to.

Season rating-6

Stefan Marinovic- We haven’t seen enough of Marinovic’s body of work to make any genuine assessment of how he will be next year but what we have seen is reassuring.

He was at fault for at least one goal in Portland but apart from that one blemish he has played with confidence.

Less combustible than Ousted he should instill a calm authority to the back line in 2018.

Season rating-6

Sheanon Williams- During the opening spell of the season Williams seemed to be exactly what the Whitecaps were missing from last year.

A steady, experienced right back who could often get forward to augment the attack.

He also appeared to be a positive locker room presence who was genuinely excited by the challenge of playing for a new club.

Then in June an alleged domestic incident led to Williams being suspended and assessed by MLS’ Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program and, from a playing point of view, it was effectively the end of his season.

His occasional start after that revealed a player who was either physically or mentally no longer capable of being “in the game”.

A sad state of affairs for so many reasons.

Season rating-4

Jake Nerwinski- Nerwinski arrived as a promising backup to Williams and ended the season as one of the first names on the team sheet.

It was the very definition of a player making the most of his opportunities.

There were even games where Nerwinski seemed to be the Whitecaps most potent attacking threat thanks to his boundless energy traversing up and down the right side of the field and a total of five assists from the right back posiiton is no mean feat at all.

The one area of concern is that both Portland and Seattle targeted him with some success in recent games  and he’ll need to learn how to deal with that kind of pressure as his career progresses.

But he’s shown that he is a smart enough player to take those lessons on board and his play was one of the genuine bright spots of the season.

Season rating-6.5

Jordan Harvey- Maybe some people would have guessed that Harvey would be out of the club at the end of the season given his contract status but very few would have predicted that his ousting (not even a pun) would come before the season end.

Marcel de Jong’s Gold Cup gave Carl Robinson the opportunity to replace Harvey at the business end of the season, but what made that opportunity genuinely credible was the fact that mistakes were creeping into Harvey’s game.

Not huge blunders, but enough to justify a switch.

In the end it made no difference and Harvey can leave the team (assuming he does leave) with his head held high.

He was a player who always cared, always wanted to win and who could speak about games in a manner the supporters could relate to.

Season rating-5.5

Marcel de Jong- The Canadian was given the chance to earn a starting spot in the late summer and he grabbed itwith both feet.

He offered more going forward than Harvey, was defensively solid and was also one of the few on the Vancouver back line who was genuinely capable of playing passes of consistent quality.

Throw in a decent shot and set-piece delivery and de Jong has placed himself at number one for the number three role in 2018.

Season Rating-6

Kendall Waston- There were some (including me) who thought the club would be better off trading on Waston’s reputation in the off season in the hope of getting a decent return for a player who had been somewhat of a liability in 2016 given his predilection for red cards and overreaction.

But whether it was the captaincy, a different way of playing or simply Waston taking stock of where he had gone wrong he was a vital presence in 2017.

His threat from attacking set-pieces obviously helped his cause but, far more importantly, he was once again defending as a defender rather than as a player who wants to be noticed.

His heroics with Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying may alert the attention of bigger clubs around the world but Waston is ideally suited to MLS; big and strong but limited in his passing range

If he chooses to stay in Vancouver for the rest of his career he could become one of the clubs iconic players.

Let’s hope that’s the path he chooses.

Season rating-7  

Tim Parker- It says a lot that Tim Parker had perhaps his least consistent year for the Whitecaps since he arrived here and yet was still in no danger of losing his starting spot.

Not that Parker was terrible. It was just the odd moment where he seemed to switch off or find himself out of position.

And while Waston’s passing can be described as “limited” Parker’s is “unlimited” in that the ball really could go anywhere.

If he could figure that out (or be played in a system that doesn’t rely on him to hit the pass that starts attacks) he would be one of the best central defenders in the league.

Season rating-6 

Next time out it’s the midfield (and there’s a lot of them!)

 

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