Keep, Trade or Release 2013: A Vancouver Whitecaps player analysis (Part Four – Forwards)

Keep, Trade or Release 2013: A Vancouver Whitecaps player analysis (Part Four – Forwards)

The 2013 MLS season is all over bar one last shouting for Vancouver Whitecaps. 

There needs to be changes and there will be, of both players and management,  and they will start happening from next week. Should these be wholesale or should the Caps keep a core and build around them?  
We got all of AFTN’s writers for this season to take a look at the current Whitecaps squad and say whether they would keep them around for next season, trade them for more valuable assets or to fill positions of need, or just release them into the wild altogether. 
We continue the feature with a look at the forwards.  
(Catch up with the series: Part One – GOALKEEPERS/ Part Two – DEFENDERS/ Part Three – MIDFIELDERS). 
Here’s our thoughts. We want to read yours below….
 
Forwards:
It’s been a good year for goals for and you have to wonder just how many more there would have been had there been some creative midfielders in there.
 
Caleb Clarke 
Steve: (KEEP) – The residency player disappeared on and off the pitch at the beginning of the season which could have been an injury/fitness issue or some disagreements with the current staff.  Clarke is currently on loan with German team Augsburg until the end of the European season at which the Caps could get an in form striker who could be an ideal fit for a new system. 
Michael: (KEEP but we’ll sell him) – Really disappointed with the way the Caps have handled Caleb’s development, although a lot of it has not been of the club’s making as well. He has shown he is an out and out goalscorer and should have been ahead of Hertzog and Heinemann in the pecking order in my view. Now impressing in Germany and training with the Augsburg first team. He’ll not be back and we’ll sell him to the Bundesliga 2 side, but we could have used him this year. 
Christopher: (TRADE) – With Sam, Bryce, Gershon, Russell, Simon, and Camilo whenever his paperwork is processed, the club are not in danger of having too few Canadians. I say sell him for as much as we can get, and make sure we get a decent sell-on clause in the transfer. 
Jay: (TRADE) – It seems like the Whitecaps and Caleb just can’t get it figured out. I find it hard to believe that Hertzog or Heinemann are that much better than Clarke to warrant their inclusion in the squad. Either way, it may be best to get a nominal transfer fee from Germanyand take some lessons learned into future negotiations with our next promising young residency striker who can’t help but score goals, Brody Huitema. 
 
Tommy Heinemann 
Michael: (KEEP) – I flip flop a lot on the hairy one. I loved what he was showing in the Reserves and was calling for him to get MLS minutes, then he did, but didn’t impress me much. Giving him those minutes earlier in the season would have possibly helped. Still not convinced he is MLS quality, but he is at least a big striker who is good in the air and you’ll struggle to find what he has the potential to bring to the team at a better value than his $51,975 salary. 
Jay: (KEEP) – There’s something I kind of like about Tommy, and he’s really excelled in reserves. If he could develop just a little bit more, he’d be a very useful bench player or occasional starter. Either way, he comes cheap so he can be retained without too much worry. 
Christopher: (KEEP) – Tom proved his value in Montreal. He represents a different kind of forward to the rest of our group and has done well in the reserves, often captaining them.
Steve: (Keep) – The team’s only striker with size excelled in the Reserve league and even had some bright spots with the first team.  I expect the Whitecaps to bring in a couple of strikers and if each of them have decent size and ability to score from a header then Heinemann could be gone. 
Aaron: (KEEP)
 
Corey Hertzog 
Christopher: (TRADE) – His skillset is similar to other players who are assured of their place in the squad. Might as well see what we can get for him, and make room for another project, or perhaps Ben Fisk. 
Jay: (RELEASE) – Unless he returns from FC Edmonton with a glowing report card from Colin Miller, I can’t see why Hertzog should be favoured over some of the other youngsters coming up through the residency. 
Steve: (TRADE) – Another striker who had bright moments but was unable to do anything consistently and eventually was loaned to FC Edmonton for the remainder of the season.  At this point I see Hertzog going but he could also stay depending on who the Caps bring in and some others who might stay. 
Michael: (KEEP) – I like Hertzog. I think he’ll be a good striker and if I had to choose between keeping him around or Heinemann, I would pick Hertzog. I’m saying to keep them both as I think that both Clarke and Miller will be away and we need to develop one of them as our third choice striker. Not sure they will both make it through the summer if they do stay. But he needs to play to develop and if he is going to be pushed down the depth chart then it would probably be better for him to be released and go to the re-entry draft. His cheap at around $60k and I’m not sure we can bring in too much better for that price.
 
Erik Hurtado 
Jay: (TRADE) – Unless the Whitecaps are playing a post season friendly with the BC Lions, Hurtado has shown that the Caps have players who are better, or younger, or both, and the problem will only get worse if Salgado returns. Time to see if the Whitecaps can trade Hurtado and get something back for that high draft pick. 
Steve:(TRADE) – The first round pick didn’t have a great season and clearly was not the player marketed by the Caps and others at the beginning of the season.  The fact that Hurtado is not a Generation Adidas player hurts as his guaranteed salary of $81,500 currently counts against the cap and there are better options like Ben Fisk in the system.
Michael: (TRADE) – There were times this year I thought Hurtado may just make the breakthrough and we’ll never know what an early goal might have done for the player. He was one of the most consistent Whitecaps players – regularly being let down by his first touch, and often his second and third as well. I’m not sure how much others will see in his potential for a trade and his salary will definitely make some baulk. I’d try and package him with one of our first round draft picks for a MLS veteran fullback or midfielder. 
Christopher: (KEEP/TRADE) – Vancouver doesn’t have to trade him, but it’s worth exploring what Portland, Chivas, or someone else would be willing to part with. The jury’s still out on him. These are the kinds of problems clubs love to have.
Aaron:(KEEP) Had a season goal of 5 MLS goals. Wasn’t even close to that. Needs to work in his first touch and finishing for next season.
 
Kekuta Manneh
Aaron: (KEEP) – Has been a pleasant surprise this year. Needs to work on his on ball strength for next season. Still only 18 years old and his future his bright. 
Jay: (KEEP) – I’ve been high on Manneh since we drafted him. No reason to believe he can’t continue to develop either. Hopefully, by the end of next season, he will be an integral part of the Whitecaps attack. 
Steve: (KEEP) – With his late flurry of goals the 18 year old has jumped into third on the team in scoring and when you consider his age and limited playing time it makes the feat even more amazing.  While he may not be a regular in the eleven Manneh should at least be the first or second option off the bench when the team needs an equalizer or a winner. 
Christopher: (KEEP) – An 18 year old, domestic, Generation Adidas player, who when all is said and done, may be the star of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft when we look back on that class in a few years time. 
Michael: (KEEP) – Will be interesting to see how Manneh’s terrible twos year turns out. There is a lot of pressure on him now to perform at the top level but I think we’ve also seen in the recent games that his touch can be wild, as can his shots. I like how Rennie managed him to an extent, bringing him on slowly, it’s just felt too slow. Will be happy to see him as out first choice sub and occasional starter next year at the very least.
Darren Mattocks 
Steve:(Trade) – After a decent rookie season Mattocks has regressed this season despite being given every opportunity to succeed as the primary striker.  He will surely graduate from his Generation Adidas contract which makes the one dimensional striker way too expensive for the Whitecaps. 
Michael: (TRADE) – And possibly many other teams too. He needs to be shown the door. Hopefully he doesn’t miss the opening. Disappointing second year where it seems that like Samson with his locks, we took all the undisciplined aggression out of his game and his skill and finishing went with it. Woeful misses and looking like a one trick pony. He could thrive in a team that plays the long ball game, but he’s been found out and can’t seem to bring anything else to his game.
Christopher: (KEEP) – I would say trade, but it’s a case of high risk, low reward. His value isn’t too high right now, and in the right situation, he could become a superstar in this league.
Jay: (TRADE) – He has the physical tools to be very useful, and will probably score a lot of goals in MLS. I just don’t think it’ll be on a winning team. He doesn’t seem to get the game, and makes poor decisions, poor passes, and is generally just lazy.  
Aaron: (KEEP) – Let’s face it, he was never going to replicate what he did last season. Had some bad luck and will need to regain his mental toughness.
 
Kenny Miller
Christopher: (TRADE) – He’ll celebrate his 34th birthday before the start of the 2014 season. A decline is coming, and it will be rapid. Get as much money as you can, while you can. 
Jay: (TRADE) – As integral as he was to our attack, it may be time to cash in on the aging Scotsman. I wouldn’t mind keeping him, but paying $1.12 million for an oft-injured poacher, who, if we’re honest, isn’t really great at poaching anymore, is pretty poor business. Time for his Rangers swan song. 
Aaron: (KEEP) – Contract extension shows he wants to be here. Hopefully he can stay healthy and continue his current success. If Demerit isn’t brought back he is likely our new captain. 
Michael: (RELEASE) – The whole contract extension baffles me a little. I saw it as a ploy to shut some media up but also to try and get some sort of a transfer fee. Except who is going to pay it? Rangers may want him but he’s ageing and they’re flying through the lower leagues with their new crop of young talent. They also don’t have much money to spend on fees. I’m a Miller fan, but he is too costly for what he can bring next season and all the injury risks. If they can release him without any sort of cap repercussions, that would be my way forward. Cite the old family couldn’t settle excuse. 
Steve: (Trade) – When Miller was healthy he was valuable enough to earn his Designated Player status with his work rate and finishing ability.  However he was injured for large chunks of the season and seems to be headed back to play somewhere in the U.K.with the only question being if the Caps can get something for him.
 
Omar Salgado 
Jay: (KEEP) – One year on bargain basement salary numbers to see if he can still run or if his feet are indeed made of glass.  
Michael: (Prefer RELEASE but probably KEEP) – I still don’t think we’ll ever see him play in a Whitecaps jersey in MLS again. And we still don’t know just what he can consistently give us. He was poor, then changed positions and seemed good, then hade the injury mare. Have to feel for the kid, but agree with Jay that if we can get him in on a bargain basement salary then keep him around, at least until next summer to get a look at him. There has been no decision yet as to whether he will be allowed to continue on a Generation Adidas contract.
Aaron:(TRADE)- Next year could still be his first year where his salary isn’t Generation Adidas. I don’t see him being back next season in a Caps kit. 
Steve: (Keep)- Another wasted year for Salgado who was unable to get on the pitch because of a chronic foot injury.  The only way he stays in Vancouver is if the secret MLS council grants the striker another year on a Generation Adidas player as his cap charge is too rich for the risk of another injury. 
Christopher: (KEEP) – Out of contract, but with a club option and he’s probably still a Generation Adidas player. I say exercise the option and hope for the best. Low risk and high reward makes it an easy choice. 
 
Camilo Sanvezzo 
Michael: (KEEP if we can) – There’s no way the Whitecaps wouldn’t want to keep him in any circumstances, but with the team failing to make the playoffs, getting rid of one of your few shining lights in the season would be a PR disaster. All that said, I think we have to be more worried about someone in Europe, especially the UK, looking at the stats and the salary and snapping him up in the winter transfer window. The hole that would leave in our attack is a frightening prospect. 
Steve: (Keep) – There is no question that the Brazillian has been the best player for the Caps leading the team in goals and helping create quite a few as well.  He has professed his love for Vancouver as well as Canada and there may be a riot if he leaves but if a mid seven figure transfer is offered will the front office have something to think about. 
Jay: (KEEP) – There’s no question Camilo is one of the greatest talents in the league. Let him have another 12+ goal season next year, and then get out the DP pen, and hand him a blank cheque. 
Christopher: (KEEP/TRADE) – Camilo is at something of a crossroads. He’ll want another pay raise. He’s working to become a Canadian citizen. And his trade value is at an all-time high. A bit of a sadistic choice really. Either way, it could come back to haunt the Whitecaps.
Aaron: (KEEP) – Has got a raise every season since he has been in Vancouver. Has shown he is a true finisher. May be hard to live up to these goals next season. 
**********
So that’s our look at the strikers. Let us know your thoughts below. 
Lot of questions around a few of the guys though and who can rise to the occasion for another stellar goalscoring year. When you look back at the all the missed opportunities though, we probably do need to strengthen with a decisive poacher or two. 
Tomorrow we conclude this series with a look at some of the Whitecaps management. Will any of them still be around when preseason training opens in January? Do we want them to be? Let’s discuss that on Monday.

 

 
 
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