Last time out we took a look at the goalkeeper and fullbacks so now it’s the turn of the central defenders to receive their end of term report.
Spoiler Alert! The Whitecaps defence was terrible all year so none of these are going to be great.
Kendall Waston- Waston will go down as the defining player of the Carl Robinson era. Brought in to provide physicality and help shore up the defence (which he did) the Costa Rican seemed to mirror the mood of the coach more often than not.
And this season was no exception.
There was an uncertainty about Waston’s play for much of the year (no doubt exacerbated by having to play with a number of different central defensive partners) and his air of dominance dissipated to the occasional showing.and even his value on attacking set pieces only really came to the fore when he was given the added incentive of facing the returning Tim Parker.
Waston can be a surprisingly insular on field presence for a team captain and once Robinson was released it was clear his head was only part way in to the remaining games.
Chances are he won’t be back in 2019 and the fact that feels like less of a loss than it might have done a season ago tells us all we need to know about Waston’s play in 2018.
Doneil Henry- The Whitecaps took a chance on the Canadian given his injury record and in some ways it paid off and in some ways it didn’t.
The only real injuries he suffered were self-inflicted (punching a locker room wall in frustration after conceding a late own goal to Toronto) and while that makes a great metaphor for the whole season it’s also a reminder that Henry retains a somewhat astonishing ability to produce a game changing mistake out of nowhere.
His physicality means he could be Waston’s heir apparent next year but the new coach will have to decide if the mostly good is good enough to outweigh the occasionally terrible.
Aaron Maund- We can add Maund to the list of players who were left out of the team for an inexplicably lengthy stretch.
When he did play Maund was solid and unspectacular (no bad thing) and while he was certainly culpable on more than one goal that culpability wasn’t exclusively his.
In retrospect sticking with Maund may have given the Vancouver defence the continuity and cohesion it so desperately needed (although chances are that would never happen no matter who was in the line up).
He may be a decent back up at best but that probably makes him the best central defender of the season.
Jose Aja- Aja arrived as the tentative replacement for Tim Parker and “tentative” probably best describes his play this season.
The theory of pairing Waston with a ball playing partner was theoretically a good one but in practice Aja’s passing wasn’t all that great and Robinson didn’t really want (or know how to get) his team to play in that way anyway.
By the end of the year Aja was mostly a presence in either the stands or the bench but when he did play his lack of physicality (and match sharpness to be fair) did little to persuade anybody that he should be back next season.
Next time out we will take a look at the several dozen midfield players to have played in 2018