The Canadian women’s team faced off against Mexico in a key semi-final of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament: the winner would go to London, the loser would not.
Massive, massive congratulations to the entire team, and a big thank you to all the fans that came out to support our team. Good luck on Sunday, ladies.
In parts 2 through X (as yet undetermined) of this mini-series, I take a look at the state of the Whitecaps squad as of today, with a few rumours of possible signings thrown in, as well as a wishlist.
In part 1 of the series I touched on some changes to the squad from last season. Here is a complete list of changes we’ve made since our final game:
Jeb Brovsky – unprotected, taken in expansion draft by Montreal
Bilal Duckett – waived
Nizar Khalfan* – waived, picked up by Philadelphia Union
Alex Morfaw – waived
Jay Nolly – traded to Chicago Fire for a first-round pick in the 2013 supplemental draft
Shea Salinas – traded to San Jose for allocation money
Peter Vagenas – waived
Bryce Alderson – signed to first team from Residency
Young-pyo Lee – signed for less-than-DP money
I think that’s everyone.
I skipped over Khalfan’s departure in part 1 of this mini-series, and for that I am sorry. Khalfan has struggled to find a place in the Whitecaps squad for two years, under both Teitur and Tommy Soehn, so no one should be surprised that he was released. However, I just can’t shake my impression of him as a good energy sub, someone who could come on and provide a spark, some drive to what could be, at times, a lifeless team. Nizar was picked up by the Philadelphia Union, and I wish him success.
(Also, there was this wundergoal last season against Salt Lake. We’ll miss you, Nizar.)
Below is our entire squad as of today.
I’m going to quickly take a look at our keepers in this instalment; later instalments will examine our defenders, midfielders, wingers and forwards.
Joe Cannon was re-signed for a lower salary (he made $210k last season), and barring injury or a disastrous drop in form he’ll likely be our #1 this coming season. He’s an excellent reflex shot-stopper at times, but sometimes his concentration slips, and he is much happier waiting for shots rather than challenging early.
Ben did a great comparison of Cannon and Jay Nolly, with Cannon just edging Nolly on stats for the season. I personally would have taken Nolly and his $65k salary, but I understand why Rennie went with Cannon at a reduced rate.
Joe has quickly become a fan-favourite and a big personality at the club. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, and he’s a leader on the field. Unfortunately, Joe is slightly injury-prone and not a young man at 37 years old. I’m happy to have him between the sticks in March, as long as he has a good back-up.
Speaking of back-ups, we don’t really have one. Brian Sylvestre, our young, promising US U-20 keeper, is big, strong, and full of potential, but probably not ready to be back-up to Cannon. He only played a few games for the reserves last season, and is still just 18 (he turns 19 on Dec 19; happy birthday, Brian!). It’s been rumoured that Rennie would bring Brad Knighton with him from Carolina, but so far nothing has happened.
So we’ll need to sign another keeper. There were quite a few available in the (ridiculous) re-entry draft, but Rennie didn’t go for any, so the safe money is on him bringing in someone he knows or someone from overseas. Knighton seems like a good fit, with some MLS experience (14 appearances for New England and Philadelphia) and a year with Rennie in Carolina, where he posted some decent stats.
With Donovan Ricketts and Greg Sutton both joining Montreal Impact*, it is probable that Montreal will be releasing or not re-signing one of Evan Bush and Bill Gaudette, their two keepers from last season. I would take either as our back-up. 30-year-old Gaudette is a bit of a Division 2 legend, bald, boisterous and a commanding presence. Bush was the top keeper in Div 2/USL/NASL/whatever-we’re-calling-it-now last season, allowing just 14 goals in 19 games. He’s just 25 years old.
Any other keepers come to mind? I’m sure there are hundreds from lower divisions across Europe, but with international spots at a premium, Rennie will likely look closer to home, seeking a US keeper. I know nothing about any other keepers in NASL, so I’m happy with my Knighton-Gaudette-Bush lottery. I would be happy with any of this trio, and confident that each would perform well as a back-up and when called on.
* It’s possible that Ricketts will get traded elsewhere before the start of next season, so this speculation about Gaudette and Bush could be premature.
After a fairly long absence, I find myself with a bit of time on my hands. It won’t last long (more below), so I thought I would try to get in a few pieces while I can.
For starters, there have been major changes at the club in the past few months. I won’t pretend that I can cover them all in detail, but here’s a few notes on what has happened:
CEO Paul Barber quit
Earlier this week Whitecaps CEO announced that he would be leaving the club next February, two years to the day after he joined us. Everyone was duly shocked, questions were asked, and so on.
President Bob Lenarduzzi and Chief Operating Officer Rachel Lewis will be looking after Mr. Barber’s duties, as they did before he arrived.
It’s never a great thing when there’s Front Office turnover, but from a few sources, it sounds like it wasn’t working out for Mr. Barber. It could have been a control issue, or it could have been a performance issue. Here’s hoping this is a good move by the club, and that we’re a bit more settled going forward.
I’ll leave it to others who have thought more about it than me:
Next up we have some major changes to the first team. A whack of players were released, a few were re-signed, and we signed a new major star.
Jay Nolly was traded to Chicago for a first-round Supplemental Draft pick. I am quite sad to see Jay go, and thought that he would probably make an excellent back-up to Cannon this coming season, and challenge for the #1 shirt. I know he has struggled, but I thought he could have been coached to improve. He was always such a great ambassador for the club, always quick to salute the fans.
We traded Shea Salinas to San Jose for allocation money, and we waived Alex Morfaw, Jeb Brovsky, Bilal Duckett and Nizar Khalfan (boooo). Brovsky, somewhat surprisingly, was chosen by Montreal in the expansion draft, so we’ll see him back here on March 10th, our home opener. Good luck to him.
We re-signed Joe Cannon and John Thorrington, and we extended Michael Boxall and Atiba Harris’ contracts for a year. We also brought 17-year-old central midfielder Byrce Alderson into the first team after he had an excellent year with the Residency and the Canadian U-17 national team (named top U-17 player of the year).
Oddly enough, right before Barber left the club announced the signing of Korean legend Young-pyo Lee.
Lee has played at at the last three World Cups, as well as for PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund. Most recently he was plying his trade in Saudi Arabia.
The highlight videos on Youtube aren’t that spectacular, but they show a fast, technical fullback who is happy to get forward, put in great crosses or cut inside.
Head coach Martin Rennie emphasized his skill, his leadership qualities, and said he’ll play at right back, a position we struggled to fill last season. Whether he succeeds there is dependent on his fitness: he’s 34 now, but hasn’t suffered from injuries and seems quite fit. Koreans have a reputation for hard work and great fitness; here’s hoping it’s not just a stereotype.
Right now the Southsiders forum is alive with speculation judgment about new contracts for Camilo and Long Tan.
A report on a Chinese news-site says Tan will be making $100k per year, a significant raise from the $32k he made last season playing for the reserves, and perhaps a bit much considering his limited contributions last season. He definitely has some talent, skill and energy, and showed that he can perform in the MLS, but I’m just not convinced we should be paying him that much after only a few games for the first team.
Camilo has taken his contract worries to twitter, a move definitely lacking in class. He made $133k last season, and he’s under contract for another year for sure, and perhaps two more after that depending on the exact terms (the club likely have the option), and seems like he’s publicly trying to force the club into improving his salary (which they say they are willing to do). Apparently he has two agents, one of whom is difficult to work with.
His salary is low, considering his production last season (12 goals, 4 penalties drawn). The median salary for players who scored 10+ goals last season was $306k; I would expect he’s asking for around that much and that the Caps are hoping to get him for less than $200k. Good luck to both parties.
MLS draft ridiculousness
Last week and today MLS held a few of their many, many drafts. Nothing happened.
Okay, one thing happened: we traded our first-place spot in the first round of the second stage of the re-entry draft to Seattle for a third-round pick in the 2014 regular draft (aka the SuperDraft). Awesome stuff. Let me go on record again and say that MLS needs to simplify their draft system. It’s ridiculous. I can’t even be bothered to say why, but it is.
Next post I’ll look at the state of our entire squad. For now, I’ll just say that I’m happy with the new signing, I think we kept our best players, I’ll miss Jay Nolly, and I hope we don’t break the bank on Long Tan or Camilo.
Oh, and I am now a member of the Southsiders Board of Directors, as Director of External Communications. We are holding our first meeting this Wednesday; should be an interesting year.
Hi everyone. I’ve been away from the blog for a while and will be until after November 19. I missed our home win over Salt Lake, but caught our home opener loss against Portland. You’re welcome, Portland (though you likely won’t make the play-offs). Great stuff from the Southsiders in both games; we/they* are really making the new BC Place exciting.
A few notes on the Portland game
Our 1-0 loss against Portland was dreadful. Poor energy, poor effort, poor everything. We make too many bad passes, and we lack coherence. Soehn just seemed to put players out on the field, and I couldn’t tell what his strategy was. He played Thorrington on the right side of midfield in the second half; Thorrington is a central midfielder and drifts inside, but not like Camilo does. Thorrington starts drifting in while still in our half, playing as a playmaking midfielder. At one point all four of our mids were on the left side of the pitch.
The Timbers goal
A nice volley from Kenny Cooper came from a bad pass from Rochat, but it really took three or four bad decisions to make sure Cooper had an open shot.
Read the rest of this entry »
I don’t often do player ratings. For those unfamiliar with the normal and widespread ratings system: Players start with a 6 out of 10 for a standard, competent game.
Starting from the back
Nolly – 4.5: Fairly decisive in the air, but a bit timid when coming out to challenge at times. Not much he could have done on goals 1 and 3, total blunder on goal 2, maybe should have done better on goal 4. I don’t expect we’ll see him next game.
Jonathan Leathers – 5.5: Attacked well, put in a good cross for Hassli after he was switched to the left, but no one on our defence should be given much positive feedback.
Jay DeMerit – 5.5: Commanding at the back at times, got in a few good tackles, and passed well out of the back a few times, but totally lost DeRo and made to look silly on the first goal. Not up to match fitness yet, clearly.
Michael Boxall – 5: Didn’t do much wrong, but didn’t do much right either. Boxall, after showing some promise early, can now be considered only mediocre.
Jordan Harvey – 5: Should have done more on the first goal. Doesn’t offer much going forward. Inexplicably played out of position in the centre in the second half.
John Thorrington – 5: Barely made an impact that I saw. Occasionally did well in the middle of the park. Basically vacated the right wing, leaving it for Leathers to run into, I guess.
Gershon Koffie – 6: Continued his strong play, but could only do so much. When we did play well Koffie was involved. Mostly, though, DC dictated play, and our midfield chased.
Peter Vagenas – 4.5: Poor passing from Vagenas. Not on the same page as our attacking players. Didn’t do much to protect our backline.
Shea Salinas – 4.5: Did he play? After several weeks of good play, Salinas regressed. Don’t remember him doing anything well.
Camilo – 6.5: Created a few chances, almost got a goal from a freekick, looked lively on the ball.
Eric Hassli – 5.5: Worked hard for the first half, almost got a goal in the second, and didn’t have great service. But his passing and first touch were fairly poor.
Davide Chiumiento – 4.5: Not sure I saw him do anything at all dangerous. Misplaced some passes, ran into defenders and lost the ball. A poor shift.
Mustapha Jarju – 4.5: I don’t remember seeing him touch the ball. That’s poor.
Jeb Brovsky – 4.5: Played out of position by Soehn, but still should have done better. At sea for the third goal, nutmegged to give up a good chance, then misplayed his mark on the fourth goal.
All in all, a very poor showing by the boys. I hope and expect that they’ll come back with a strong performance against Portland this Saturday.
Ugh. That was a horrible, morale-sucking loss. Maybe our worst. Certainly the worst by the scoreline and opponent. But we’ve had a few bad, bad games this season. Was this the worst? You tell me:
I’ll spare you the highlights. Or if you do watch them, turn down the audio. Craig MacEwen is difficult to listen to. Doesn’t seem to understand the game that well.
Not sure what to write, to be honest. Martin Rennie cannot come soon enough. The game was an utter failure of coaching. Soehn persists with his ridiculous team selection and positioning.
Down two goals, Soehn pulled off DeMerit (he’s returning from injury) for Chiumiento, moved left back Jordan Harvey to the centre, moved right back Leathers to the left and moved central midfielder Thorrington to right back. What? Shockers, it didn’t work.
Then, when Thorrington needed to come off (he’s also returning from injury), Soehn put Brovsky in at right back, even though he was very poor there earlier this season. And surprise, surprise, DC immediately get a goal and create an impossible-to-miss chance down our right side, then Brovsky misplays his check and allows another goal.
Soehn knew that DeMerit would have to come out of the game, yet didn’t dress Janicki as a replacement. Instead, Harvey fills in. Harvey had a poor game at centre last time he filled in. And if he knew he was going to move Leathers over to the left, why not dress a right back to come in? Knight didn’t dress either. Instead we had Duckett, who isn’t at all ready for MLS, and Brovsky as our defensive back-ups. Shoddy.
In his post-match comments, Soehn said he was disappointed in the team. We can’t wait until Rennie arrives and brings some order to the team and Soehn can go back to scouting and such, which he seems to be good at (Rochat, Hassli, etc).
* or wherever DC play. Probably New Jersey, if I understand eastern professional sports properly.
Tomorrow the Whitecaps face DeRO and DC United. And we have our winning streak on the line.
Coming off our third win of the season, the Whitecaps have to look at this game as one of the few winnable games left.
Our attacking force has never been stronger, and while DC are better than Chicago, their defence isn’t. LA kept us off the scoresheet, but we had our chances, and we should have chances again in DC. Hopefully Hassli and Camilo can put a couple away.
Thorrington came into the side and did well, though didn’t add much going forward. Vagenas and Koffie are doing well together in the middle; look for Koffie to continue to push forward as he goes for another goal.
We’re missing key defender Alain Rochat (adductor/groin), but DeMerit is healthy after playing half a reserves match. I hope we aren’t forcing him back if he’s on the cusp of being healthy. Harvey’s turn in the centre was pretty bad against Chicago; if DeMerit has to come out early I hope Soehn uses his actual centre back sub, Janicki.
DC are a middling team in MLS, on the cusp of the play-offs with a few games in hand, and are on pace to finish 11th. They don’t have a stellar home record, with just two wins; also four losses and six draws. They’ve done well recently, a 2W-2D-1L record in their last five.
DC recently brought in Dwayne De Rosario, and he’s been on fire, scoring six goals in six games, including a hat-trick in their last game, a man down against Toronto. Hah! (I take back that hah if he scores against us.)
DC also have diving and scoring phenomenon Charlie Davis. He has 8 goals in 15 games and is the proud owner of a $1000 fine for a blatant dive. Watch for him to flop around and shoot at will. Josh Wolff and Chris Pontius may also likely feature, and both can score.
Defender and possible Whitecaps pick (he went third overall) Perry Kitchen has featured in 17 matches and by most accounts is a solid player. DC were poor defensively last season, but to walk into a starting role as a rookie is pretty impressive.
Jarju may start ahead of Chiumiento, and Salinas maybe ahead of Thorrington. Three hard-working midfielders (Thorrington, Vagenas, Koffie) is too many, to my mind. Salinas provides some needed creativity.
Well, I couldn’t have been much more wrong with my last prediction, a very-wrong 1-1 draw. I’m going to try again, though. A 1-1 draw.
Martin Rennie, currently at Carolina Railhawks, will become our coach at the end of the current season. He’s young, charismatic, talented, and seems to win a lot wherever he coaches. One can’t help but think of a young Jose Mourinho or André Villas-Boas, freshly moved over to Chelsea from Porto.
But for all his wikipedia accolades, I don’t know much about the guy.
(Montreal tried to sign him earlier this summer but apparently he baulked at leaving Carolina midway through the season. Eat it, Montreal.)
I looked through old match reports but couldn’t find anything. So in order to find out about Rennie, I got in touch with two journalists that cover the Railhawks, and a fan of the team.
Neil Morris and David Fellerath write for Triangle Offense, the sports blog of The Independent Weekly in Durham, North Carolina, home of the Railhawks. Neil broke the story last night on the twitter. Daniel S is a fan of the team, and has followed them through the Rennie era.
Thanks to the three of them for taking the time to do this. Here, then, are their responses to my hastily scribbled questions.
Read the rest of this entry »
You can find good pieces on the announcement and on our coach for 2012 all over the place:
He’s a young hotshot that was going to be scooped up by someone, and I’m glad we got him. He’s been tearing up USL and NASL for a few years with Carolina, his contract is up, and Soehn is a better GM than coach.
Key to the deal is Rennie’s commitment to see out the season in Carolina. We’re apparently fine with that, so we’ll see Rennie at the end of the NASL season in October.
I’ll leave the summaries and judgments to those above; I’m working on a Q&A with a journo and fan that have watched him for a few years. Should be interesting, so watch this space.
I’m sitting here awake, so I might as well throw some thoughts down. See previous post for highlights.
1) That was a huge win for us. I predicted a draw, and stressed the need for a win in order to catapult us closer to (and hopefully past) the fewest wins in a season in MLS history. Well, we did it, and with style. This will go a long way to improving morale in the team and the fans.
2) If anyone still doubted Hassli’s ability, they are surely convinced now. What a beautiful first goal. Horrible defending to set him free on goal, but still, he had a lot to do from the top of the arc. Brilliant shot. His two goals put him at ten on the season, just one back of Thierry Henry and Landycakes. And he should have had a third but his penalty kick was excellently saved by an otherwise poor Chicago keeper.
3) Two defensive-ish midfielders seems to work for us. Vagenas and Koffie are getting more and more comfortable with each other, and our passing through the midfield is getting better and better.
4) Both Fire goals were due to defensive lapses. On the first, Boxall got sucked forward when he probably shouldn’t have, Rochat was forced to come over to cover, and he got schooled by Oduro in the box. Not Rochat’s finest moment. Then Harvey made a complete mess of a simple ball over the top, gifting Barrouch the ball. Boxall was lucky earlier after letting his check get past him to a cross into the box; Nolly saved his ass with a spectacular save.
5) Nolly could have done better on the second goal, but also made a few great saves, and Soehn has said he’ll stick with him for the near future. Cannon wasn’t getting results, and Soehn made the change and was rewarded for it. Nolly is also cheaper than Cannon by $135,000 a year.
6) Someone obviously told Koffie to shoot. That guy has been due; and his goal wins Southsiders regular Kris a free beer, betting on Koffie over Salinas to score first.
7) Camilo has now drawn four penalties, the most in MLS. Coupled with his seven goals and two assists, that’s good production from a guy I wasn’t very big on at the start of the season. I’m a total convert. But I have a feeling we may leave him unprotected in the expansion draft and Montreal will snap him up.
8 ) Thorrington came in and was okay. Nothing spectacular, but nothing horrid either. Nice to see him back in a Whtiecaps shirt. Same goes for Teibert at left back: nothing special to report, glad to have him back on the pitch.
9) Home field advantage counted in this match. Hassli should never have got to the ball on the first goal, but the Fire defender misread the bounce on the turf. Same with Koffie’s goal: the Fire keeper totally misread the bounce in front of him.
10) A great win, but let’s not forget that it was against another horrible team. The Fire defence and keeper gifted us a few goals. A 4-0 loss to the best team still makes sense after this 4-2 win over one of the worst. We’re still in last place, and still only have three wins on the season. We need two more to avoid equalling the MLS record, and only have a few opportunities in our 11 remaining games. I’m looking at you, Portland Timbers.