Now that a wild ride of a season has ended for the Vancouver Whitecaps it’s time to take a deep breath, use the benefit of hindsight and pass unflinching judgment on each and every player.
But where shall we start? We shall start at the beginning and keep going until we get to the end.
Max Crepeau– This was comfortably Crepeau’s best season for the Whitecaps. Mainly because he was less savey and more catchy. Or, for those who are not au fait with the more technical terms of the goalkeeping trade, he’s developed into a more mature and therefore less noticeable goalkeeper. His distribution could still be better but perhaps that will come in time too?
Thomas Hasal- Hasal played just enough games to have an opinion formed about him and yet not enough to give that opinion any value. When he did play he lacked the confidence he displayed last season and he now needs to be somewhere where he will play on a regular basis.
Bruno Gaspar- There were times in his early appearances when Gaspar looked disinterested in playing football of any kind. He was reluctant to get forward and equally reticent to track back. That left him a tough task to win over the fans and he probably never quite did that. He definitely got better as he acclimatized to MLS, but good enough to earn another season? No.
Javain Brown- The surprise hit of the summer. Brown came into the team and did exactly what Sartini wanted him to do by getting forward as often as he could. Brown wasn’t perfect in every game, especially from a defensive point of view, but the Whitecaps were a worse team when he wasn’t playing. Give this man a pay rise!
Cristián Gutiérrez– Would have been a similar summary to Brown, but injuries hit his season deep. Still, Gutiérrez is well suited to the wing back role and has quality in his crosses and set-pieces. It’s a big season for him next year, not least in terms of maintaining full fitness.
Marcus Godinho– Barely played but did start the playoff game against Kansas for some reason. He’s not terrible defensively, but Godinho is not a good attacking full back and so it’s hard to see where he will fit in the long term.
Jake Nerwinski– Until Sartini was appointed coach, Nerwinski was heading down the road marked “Yesterday’s full back”, with his lack of pace and lack of quality in his final ball marking him down as a remnant of a previous age. But Sartini’s decision to play him in the central defensive role revitalized his career and Nerwinski proved himself to be perfectly competent, with even the odd foray up the field added to his repertoire.
Ranko Veselinovic- Veselinovic got better the more he played, although neither Dos Santos or Sartini seemed to fully trust him. Nevertheless, with a full post-season of playing in a three man defence Veselinovoic could (should) be a regular starter next season.
Erik Godoy- If Godoy could stay fit he’d be the most important player on the Whitecaps squad. A solid defender who reads the game well and can pass the ball. But he can’t stay fit it seems which makes balancing his contribution a tough ask for any coach. Keep him for the minutes he can play or opt for a more reliable option?
Andy Rose- Beloved by coaches for the experience he brings to the defence, Rose has proven himself to be better in theory than in practice. There certainly seemed to be no discernible improvement when he was in the team and his penchant for overestimating his ability to hit a forty yard pass to feet can become wearisome. Should not be in the playing squad next season.
Florian Jungwirth- Seemingly brought in for his leadership as much as his play on the field, Jungwirth did indeed prove to be “good in the locker room”. He was also pretty good in games too, providing a touch of physicality the other Vancouver central defenders lacked. He’s been signed for another year and rightfully so.
What a lot of defenders the Whitecaps have!
But the objective in the off season has to be making sure there is quality cover in the wing back role and adding at least one more central defender to the roster, mainly to avoid either Baldisimo or Metcalfe having to play there ever again.
Next time out we judge the midfield!