Vancouver is a completely different squad than the one the Philadelphia Union beat 4-0 at home in June of last year. AtlantisB of 86Forever gives us an inside look at the team, and an update on the controversy around the Whitecaps organization ahead of Saturday’s match. You can see my responses to his questions here.
With a total roster makeover this off-season and coaching change, how has Vancouver’s style of play and on field identity changed from prior seasons?
With all the problems off the field, the club has been more enjoyable to watch on the field than in recent years. Yes, there has been an entire roster overhaul, with 17 new additions this off-season. However, it has resulted in a better club. New coach Marc Dos Santos has a vision of how he wants the club to play and we have seen that enacted. Despite the past two seasons, the Whitecaps have been known for having a strong defense and that has been reintroduced by MDS. The club has been steadfast in that department but can’t seem to click offensively; the story of every Whitecaps fan for the last 10 years! Carl Robinson was dedicated to his 4-2-3-1, and having an entire club of the same player. There was individual talent, maybe more than now, but they could not play as a unit. Once you could shut down specific players, the team was anemic. Fast forward to this season and the club is playing a 4-3-3 or a 3-5-2 and it has been wonderful. They are actually enjoyable to watch and have shown potential. They are not there yet and fans have been okay with that. But they have shown what could come with a bit more work and a few additional pieces. This is a rebuilding year and fans seem to be okay with that. Besides, lots to keep us occupied off the field.
How were you able to beat arguably the best team in the League (LAFC) in early April?
Vancouver has played well against top teams. They shut out Seattle and LAFC, had LA Galaxy on the ropes except for a few late goals, and played well against Houston away. Now if only they could score! The club is learning to play as a unit and move together and that is what has led to their strong play against good teams. Their defense has been cohesive, with support from the ‘offensive’ players. If not for a few poor refereeing decisions, their record could be much better. Also, those complaints about refereeing decisions are not sour grapes. At least twice (I think it is actually three) PRO came out and stated that the wrong decision was made in a Whitecaps match, which cost them points.
What is your projected starting lineup for Saturday’s match against the Union, and who will be your impact players?
Predicted Starting Lineup
Crepeau, Nerwinski, Henry, Godoy, Adnan, Felipe, Erice, Teibert, Reyna, Montero, Hwang
Hwang has been stellar for this club and been everything that was expected when he was transferred in. Adnan was a surprise pickup a few weeks ago, but is probably one of the best left backs in the league. Unfortunately, he might not be here past June, as he is here on a short-term loan. Reyna has been poor to start the season but seems to have picked it up in the past two games. He is probably the club’s best player and needs to show it. If those three can play to their potential and get support from Montero they can be dangerous. On the defensive end, Henry has been a strong replacement for the departed Waston while Godoy has been stellar. Erik Godoy is a loanee who, likely, no one will have heard of but he is GOOD. He is almost never out of position as he reads the game well. He is calm and collected. He and Henry are a big reason why the Whitecaps are able to shut out guys like Vela. If you get frustrated that your players are not scoring, watch Godoy closely and you will see why. He is very good.
We have been hearing about several scandals surrounding the Whitecaps organization recently. Could you explain them and how the supporter’s groups have responded?
Oh boy, that is NOT an easy answer. I would recommend your readers review the below three links for a more detailed response, but the readers digest version is that the Whitecaps organization has a history of sexual violence related accusations that appear to be ignored or deemed unimportant by those in-charge (higher up). The Whitecaps have been described as an old school ‘boys club’ and these actions reinforce that. Fans are fed up with the inaction of the club and have voiced their displeasure in multiple ways. The first is through a walk-out during last Wednesday’s LAFC match, in which the Supporters Groups left at the 35 minute mark, for an early halftime snack. Since many long-time season ticket holders have canceled their tickets, while anytime the Whitecaps PR team posts on Twitter at least half of the remarks are about the club owning up to their terrible track record. It has not been pretty, but most importantly, the club has given the impression that they don’t care and that it is not a big deal. Again, I encourage your fans to read the below three links. The first is on the ‘major’ case, which has garnered international attention, while the second is on the most recent case involving an academy coach, while the third is sort of a summary of the recent history of the club.