Is Russell Teibert’s time up in Vancouver?

Is Russell Teibert’s time up in Vancouver?

With reports this week from the Vancouver Province’s Marc Weber suggesting that Vancouver Whitecaps defensive midfielder Gershon Koffie could be sold this offseason to a team in Europe, it’s left a lot of people asking who would replace Koffie in the ‘Caps starting XI.

With players like Russell Teibert, Deybi Flores and young Canadian, and recently named USL WFC2 Player of the Year, Ben McKendry under MLS contracts next season there are certainly plenty of options.

Most supporters are coming up with what they believe is the easy answer on who should replace him…. five-year MLS player Teibert. But is he really the clear cut favourite to replace Koffie?

Before you say of course he is, let’s take a look at what he can offer.

In five years of being a member of the Whitecaps MLS squad, he has never been able to settle in one position on the pitch. We’ve seen him all over the midfield and even at full back.

Sure that isn’t all his fault, as the coaches the team have had before Carl Robinson used him all over the pitch, but he has never stepped up and solidified himself as a quality MLS player at any of the positions.

Other than the nice run he had playing up front with Kenny Miller and Camilo in 2013, he has never shown that he deserves to be a MLS starter on this current Whitecaps team.

That is part of the frustration with the 22-year-old. That 2013 season showed everyone just what Teibert can be capable of. In 24 games, 19 of those starts, he scored two goals and went on an amazing tear to record nine assists, which included seven in a six game spell in late spring.

It was a career year. It might also have been the best one he’ll have. Since then there’s been three assists and no goals from 52 games these past two seasons.

Let’s be frank here. Putting aside Canadian allegiances, Teibert has so far shown that in general, he is an okay to below average MLS player at best.

Last season, even if he was in the gameday eighteen, Teibert wasn’t deemed to be strong enough off the bench to be a player that Robinson could call on game in and game out to make a difference for the team.

An argument that some supporters would put forward is that he has a handful of games a season where he is a quality player. True, but that in itself isn’t a great argument. At this level, consistency is the key. The ability to turn it on, on a weekly basis is what is needed. Not just flashes of what could be.

Let’s say Teibert has four to eight games a season where he is a quality starter or a quality substitute off the bench. That leaves 30-32 games a season (over all competitions) where he is average at best and below that at worst.

Of course no one is going to be on their top form every game, but at some point there comes a time where it’s time for the player and team to move on.

_DSC6852That time may now be here for Teibert and the Whitecaps.

The ‘Caps are pretty heavily stacked with Defensive Midfielders right now to partner Matias Laba.

Opinion is certainly mixed on the young Honduran Deybi Flores. Flores certainly struggled a lot last season, but those detractors have to realize that he is an 18-year-old player, with a lot of upside and development ahead of him, who was in his first season in a new league and a new country.

Part of that upside is that he is four years younger than Teibert and has a higher potential ceiling than Teibert. The Whitecaps have given Teibert five years to show what he has to offer and Flores should be given the same opportunity. Carl Robinson is certainly very high on the kid and feels that if he develops to his full potential, he could be an even better player than Laba down the road. Still obviously a big ‘if’ there.

Then we have local lad Ben McKendry. The BC native is probably the youth player in the DM system that has the highest upside. We all know the jump from USL to MLS is a big one, but McKendry is the player who has the best chance to do it. Ask anyone who saw WFC2 play and they will have nothing but praise for McKendry.

As does Robinson. With all the talk of Will Johnson possibly heading to Vancouver (we now know he isn’t), the feeling within the ‘Caps is that within two years McKendry could be as good a box to box player in this league as Johnson. He certainly knows the way to goal, which seems to elude Koffie and Teibert more often than not.

Whether to keep Teibert around, five years down the road, wouldn’t even be a discussion point if he wasn’t a Canadian player on a Canadian team. Why should the team and supporters settle for an okay player just because he is Canadian?

We have to remember that the team’s first goal is to win trophies, then to make a profit. Developing Canadian talent is most certainly part of the plan but shouldn’t (and isn’t?) the top priority.

If Koffie is to move on sooner rather than later, and with Robinson being really high on Flores and McKendry it might be time for Teibert to be given a chance to become a full-time quality player for a NASL or USL team.

He’s at such a critical stage of his own personal development right now, this is what he should be considering himself. However things play out with the other DM’s on the squad, 2016 could be the most critical year of Teibert’s young pro career to date.

Aaron Campbell
Authored by: Aaron Campbell

There are 6 comments for this article
  1. juan at 23:58

    If anything, Rusty needs to be challenged and a new environment is most likely the best case scenario for him at this stage of his career. Ideally a move to Europe where the pressure cooker of competing for playing time will hopefully give his plateauing career a kick in the arse.

  2. Mark at 07:22

    If Koffie is departing, I can’t see Russell packing up and going to a new team. Flores had too many stinkers last year to count on him for this year, your speculation that Mckendry could be as talented as Johnson in the near future – don’t see it. Johnson is a mean sob with a decent touch and a driven athlete – McKendry is currently too soft. I see him contributing down the road.

    Signing Flores does suggest that either Russ or Gersh should go….if the Koffie deal falls through and TFC doesn’t get Will, counts as a domestic in Canada Koffie or Tiebert would be a good fit as a defensive mid for the Reds….the problem is, that once you get past the protected 9-10 players the Reds are keeping for sure, they’re a bit thin in – especially young – talent. Mattocks and Gersh/Tiebert for Hagglund and Osorio.

  3. Steve at 23:17

    Two questions:

    1. What are Froese’s and Levis’s best positions? Quite the logjam at centre mid.

    2. Do you see anyone who can back up Laba? The Koffie/Teibert combo didn’t fill me with confidence.

  4. Aaron Campbell at 18:32

    I believe that Froese will be able to make the jump to a quality MLS player but he might only be a back up winger or play behind the striker up front.

    I don’t think Levis will be anymore then a USL player. When McKendry moves up Levis might have to take over his role.

    This season it will have to be Teibert to backup Laba if the rumours of Koffie being sold is true. Might be his last season to see if he can do it. Robbo is so high on Flores/McKendry he sees one of them being the future backup or maybe even pushing Laba for a starting spot.

  5. Michael McColl at 20:50


    Froese can play all over the midfield, which may serve him well or may see him fall in to being another Teibert. Hard to really say where he is best suited at the higher level, but for now Robbo certainly sees him on the wing. He’s challenge him (and some of the other younger players) to show more this coming season. From reading between the lines of various interview comments he’s made, he’s hinted the Canadian guys weren’t fit enough.

    Robbo likes what he’s seen from Levis and wants to see him in preseason camp (alongside Blasco) and another season in USL. Big year for him. He could make the jump.

    Agree that CM and DM positions seem stacked. Levis is probably best out wide.

    Robbo likes McKendry. We chatted about him after our recent podcast recording with him and he firmly believes that if he continues his progression, he’ll be a box to box Dm players like Will Johnson within two years. And one of our own.

    For now, I really don’t know if Koffie will leave. He seems to want to try his hand in Europe and ‘Caps would love to get that salary off the books and bring in some transfer money, but I don’t feel he’s anywhere near good enough for any top level European side, so it’s how far down the chain he’s happy to start.

  6. Aaron Campbell at 18:59

    Looks like Rustu gets a new leash of his life in Vancouver with Gershon being traded.

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