In 2022 the Whitecaps defence featured more cameo appearances than an MTV ’80s night which, frankly, makes reviewing their efforts more work than I would like.
But we all have burdens that we must carry so let’s just get this thing over with.
Thomas Hasal- Hasal was hit by injuries at the start of the season but the heir apparent to the self-exiled Crepeau returned to reclaim the starting spot. He wasn’t great and he was terrible. But he was inconsistent. Not ideal in a goalkeeper. Season rating-4.5. Stay or Go? It depends on how the coaching staff view his potential. But probably stay.
Cody Cropper– Cropper helped the team win the Canadian Championship and offered a level of experience that the defence probably needed at the time. His weaknesses were revealed as the season progressed but he’s a solid backup ‘keeper. Season rating-4.5. Stay or Go? If Hasal stays then keeping Cropper makes sense.
Marcus Godhino– Is Godhino the most underrated of all the Whitecaps? He rarely has a bad game whether starting or coming on as a substitute and is comfortable playing in whatever role Sartini chooses for him at any given moment. Surprisingly skillful too. Season rating- 5. Stay or Go? Stay.
Cristian Gutiérrez– Gutiérrez fell out of favour halfway through the season and was never seen again. Which is a shame because it later transpired that what the team really needed was a left sided wing-back who could get forward and deliver decent service to the attack. Season rating-3. Stay or Go? Stay, but not much sense in that if the coach doesn’t want him to.
Ranko Veselinović- Veselinović was the main stay of a frustratingly changeable backline. He made mistakes and he had some very good games. Mostly the latter once Cubas arrived and those around him became more settled. There’s far more upside to Veselinović than there is down. Season rating-5.5. Stay or Go? Stay.
Tristan Blackmon– Blackmon is easily the most relaxed Whitecaps on the field no matter what the situation and his winning penalty in the Canadian Championship fitted that profile. He’s prone to the occasional lazy pass, but he’s comfortable on the ball and willing to make the forward runs that Sartini likes his defenders to make. Season rating-5.5,.Stay or Go? Stay.
Luis Martins– This was very much a “What if?” season for Martins. The Whitecaps signed an experienced MLS left-sided defender then proceeded to play an inexperience right-sided forward in that role. Once Martins got minutes the benefit was obvious. Season rating-4.5. Stay or Go? Stay if he is going to play games.
Julian Gressel- Gressel was a great pick up for the team. The right-sided wing back that suited their system perfectly. Of course he didn’t always play in that role and Gressel flitted between “That’s what he can do!” and “What is it he does again?” performances during the run in. Still a very good signing however. Season rating-5. Stay or Go? Stay.
Javain Brown– Brown is capable of very good defensive performances and games where he seems to not understand the mission at all. He lost his place to Nerwinski by season’s end, but there’s enough there to make it a reasonable assumption that Brown will be a useful player in the coming years. Season rating-3. Stay or Go? Stay.
Florian Jungwirth– This was obviously one season too many for the German and the ploy to use him as a defensive midfielder only exacerbated this notion. Season Rating-1. Stay or Go? Go.
Jake Nerwinski- Nerwinski tends to get lumped in with the less popular players when the Twitterati take to the virtual streets. But, in reality, he’s a decent defender who probably shouldn’t be starting in an MLS team that wants to comfortably make the playoffs, But he earned his starting spot by the end of this season. Season rating-4.5. Stay or Go? Stay as the solid backup option he should be.
2 thoughts on “Vancouver Whitecaps Season Review: The Defence”
It seems that most of the folks who review Whitecaps’ players do so with an “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. Instead of keeping the least worse, focus should be on attracting and bringing in the “best”, and that includes a coach.
Whether the intent is to draw a foul or not, Brown suffers an injury in almost every appearance. Nerwinski is beginning his 5th or 6th year. By this time in his career, he should have more to offer off the bench than moans from fans.
Neither Hasal or Cropper have proven they can cut it in important games. Find a first rate GK who is big and who can’t be intimidated.
Vancouver is not a development driven team. If they want success, they need to put players in their natural positions, hire what they are missing and get a coach who is more than a cheerleader. Bigger teams have let better players and better coaches go. These guys have spent their lives getting where they are. They deserve better from the club’s owners.
Godinho surprises as a nifty dribbler but his final ball/cross is really inconsistent and if it is on the left with his weaker left foot, it usually sais out of touch. However, he can provide cover at RB. Raposo certainly improved notably this season but he has axl ceiling; it was worth noting that the attacking play in general and Gauld’s play in particular got better once the left footed Martins was coming on the overlap as opposed to Raposo (and Godinho) always cutting inside to play the ball right footed. Raposo is a back up and can contribute in that role but he would be the kind of guy the old management would sign to a contract too long and too cap unfriendly in terms (like Teibert). Guys like him and Godinho are important to moneyball: great when cheap, shitty when you overpay.
Brown is guaranteed for another few years plus an option so he’s going nowhere, except maybe a loan if things go south for him here.