The Vancouver Whitecaps acquired midfielders this season with more voracity than Bono’s accountant acquires companies in ethically dubious offshore tax havens so, for your benefit dear reader, I will split the review of the 2017 midfield into two parts.
And part the first will be devoted to Carl Robinson’s drug of choice; the defensive midfielder.
Matias Laba- Laba’s season ended with an injury just when it seemed a move away from the club was on the cards. What that means for his future remains uncertain but the players who have arrived since that day make Laba’s presence here in 2018 very unlikely.
There’s an argument that’s a good thing given the fact that he hadn’t really developed beyond the midfield terrier persona he arrived with.
There’s a counter argument that says he would actually have been a very good foil to the more static presence of Ally Ghazal.
That will likely be moot though and we may well have seen the last of one of those Laba challenges that are specifically designed to leave everybody thinking “That could be an MLS red card”.
Andrew Jacobson- A useful presence in that he can play in the midfield or at the back, Jacobson was one of those who fell out of favour come season end.
That might have been somewhat harsh since he offered at least as much as Tony Tchani as a holding midfielder and a little bit more going forward.
But Jacobson is yet another who will be moving on and he may be missed a little more than many of us think.
Tony Tchani- No player was given more leeway for poor performances than Tchani this season.
Clearly Carl Robinson saw something in Tchani he wanted to nurture (or maybe he just enjoyed bawling instructions at him from the sideline. “Want the f””ing ball Tony!” being a particularly apposite such shout).
Yet despite his four goals (three of which came from set-pieces) Tchani offered next to nothing as an attacking presence in open play and his defensive contribution can be best summed up as “being there to get in the way”.
Right from the get go he looked like a man who wasn’t quite sure why he was here or what part he was supposed to play and that culminated in him being dropped for the final game against Seattle.
Much like the French Revolution it will be generations before people can really understand what the meaning of Tony Tchani in Vancouver actually was.
Russell Teibert- If Russell Teibert didn’t try so hard and take it all so seriously it would be all too easy to be amused by his exertions.
Like a three-year old pretending to do the job a of a grown up Teibert goes convincingly through the motions without ever really knowing the why or the wherefore of what he’s doing.
The Canadian Premier League is almost specifically designed for his talents and if he ends up there he will no doubt thrive.
But if safe passes to a central defender were suddenly declared to be currency Teibert would be the new Bitcoin.
Ally Ghazal- Have we had enough time to evaluate Ghazal yet?
Probably just enough to know that he’s a genuine defensive midfielder who is stronger than he looks and who is also capable of making one really horrendous pass in every game.
He should be a useful component next season though (with the proviso that at least one other player in the midfield is allotted to, you know, get somewhere near the opposition penalty area).
Mostly though he deserves credit for the double headlock on Lodeiro and Alonso in the first playoff game at BC Place.
Season rating -6