Whitecaps Roster Breakdown
by Steve Pandher, Vancouver
The Vancouver Whitecaps open their third preseason as a MLS club with a number of questions at each position. The first question was answered on the first day when the club announced a mutual termination of Barry Robson’s contract. Will the Caps do the same with Kenny Miller or do they keep one of their designated players? Also, who will be brought into the midfield?
This camp will be especially important considering the organization admitted that it was a mistake making so many changes during the summer window. This means that the majority of positions for this season will be decided going into the season, unlike last year when there was much turnover during the break.
Secured: Darren Mattocks, Caleb Clarke
Bubble: Kenny Miller, Camilo
Trialist: Corey Hertzog, Tom Heinemann, Dever Orgill
If Rennie plans to go with a lone striker then the favourite will have to be Mattocks who is capable of scoring in double digits if he can stay healthy and out of trouble with cautions. There are rumours that both Kenny Miller and Camilo could be moved but if they are to remain it will be up to them to earn time on the pitch. One player who could replace Miller on the roster is Canadian striker Rob Friend who may be joining the Caps after playing the last several seasons in Germany.
The Caps have a number of trialists coming in at the striker position as Tom Heinemann, former Columbus Crew who played under Rennie in Carolina, and Corey Hertzog, former Red Bull who was signed as a GA player, try to make the roster and give Vancouver size up front. A surprise addition to the preseason roster is Dever Orgill who played for the Whitecaps back in the division 2 days.
It will be interesting to see if Home Grown product Caleb Clarke gets more time with the first team or possibly goes on loan after getting limited in his first year. There is a chance that Clarke could be loaned to a club in North America or across the pond where he was close to securing a spot in Germany before an injury brought him back to Vancouver.
Secured: Omar Salgado, Russell Teibert, Kekutah Manneh, Erik Hurtado
Trialist: Paulo Jr., Evan James, Ben Fisk
The left wing spot will be waiting for Omar Salgado who seemed to find a rythym in his game before suffering a season ending injury while on international duty. Behind him on the depth chart is residency product Russell Teibert who was starting to see some time on the pitch late in the season.
On the other side it is wide open with new draftees Erik Hurtado and Kekutah Manneh looking to make an instant impact with the first unit. There is also former RSL player Paulo Jr who was picked up on re-entry waivers and has yet to be signed to a contract.
A couple of Canadians are in camp on trial with residency product Ben Fisk being an ideal fit in Rennie’s system. Similar to Clarke, Fisk was close to a loan deal in Germany last season after his impressive run in the USSDA playoffs. Former Impact draft pick Evan James is also in camp with the Caps but will be joining the team after his run with the national team.
Secured: Gershon Koffie, Matt Watson, Bryce Alderson, Jun Marques Davidson
Trialist: Crispin Olando, Jacob Lensky
The only clear starter for the Whitecaps in the midfield going into this preseason is Gershon Koffie who continued to grow into a bigger role last season. The release of designated player Barry Robson opens up another spot which might be reserved for the creative midfielder that the Caps desperately need.
One of their best players at the end of the 2012 season was Matt Watson, but was it enough to earn a spot in the starting eleven? On the other end, Jun Marques Davidson was a consistent holding midfielder from the start of the season, but was relegated to the bench by season’s end. The youngest player on the roster was Bryce Alderson and youth played a part in the residency alum not seeing any time on the pitch.
A couple of midfielders will be joining the Whitecaps camp as Jacob Lensky continues his trial from last season. The Caps are also bringing in Kenyan Crispin Olando who was reported to be signed to a contract but will be coming in on trial.
Secured: Jay DeMerit, Andy O’Brien, Brad Rusin
Bubble: Martin Bonjour, Carlyle Mitchell
The one position where there is very few questions when it comes to who will be the starters when the season kicks off. Both Jay DeMerit and summer acquisition Andy O’Brien had excellant seasons along the backline where they took turns leading from the back.
The questions come to the bench players as the Caps recently signed Brad Rusin, former Railhawk captain, who returns after a couple of seasons in Norway. He may have been signed to be a replacement for Martin Bonjour who had a solid season but may be too high priced for a backup. Carlyle Mitchell, with his minimum price, is also in camp and his salary may give him an advantage in holding onto his spot.
Secured: Y.P. Lee, Alain Rochat, Jordan Harvey
Bubble: Greg Klazura
Trialist: Andres Fresenga
The Whitecaps breathed a sigh of relief when Young-Pyo Lee announced that he was returning for another season at the right back position. There is word that Lee will not be playing games on the east coast so the Caps have brought Canadian Andre Fresenga, who has been playing in Uruguay, on trial with the hope that he can be a spot starter to give Lee more rest.
The left side will be manned by Alain Rochat who started at left back for most of the season before he moved to midfield in a holding role. If Rennie decides to move him there then it will be Jordan Harvey who will be tabbed for that spot as he did late last season. There is also a holdover Greg Klazura who is a natural left back but spent most of last season learning the right back position.
Secured: Brad Knighton, Joe Cannon
Trialist: Simon Thomas, Sean Melvin
Like every other position the goalkeeper spot went through changes during the season and with both returning the competition should be wide open. Joe Cannon was named the starter out of last year’s camp and was considered by most to be the MVP of the first half. He faltered late in the summer and was replaced by Brad Knighton who proved to be a very capable MLS keeper which may put him in a slight edge in this camp.
The Caps have two young keeper in as trialists with residency product Sean Melvin and former Jay Nolly backup Simon Thomas attempting to secure the number three spot.