When Kyle Greig was brought in to WFC2 in the offseason, his remit was simple – be the scoring presence the team needed and add some veteran presence to a young squad.
On a personal level, Greig hoped to let his performances put him the shop window, with the ultimate aim of earning a MLS contract with the ‘Caps, after making the switch from OKC Energy.
With seven goals through WFC2’s first seven matches, Greig’s certainly been making people sit up and take notice, especially with the strikers in the MLS team not exactly consistently setting the heather on fire.
Does he have what it takes to make the jump to MLS? Carl Robinson is the man to ultimately make that decision, but WFC2 head coach Alan Koch has definitely been impressed with what he’s seen from Greig so far this season.
“Kyle’s been very, very good,” Koch told us after Sunday’s win over LA. “He’s obviously scoring goals. He’s a big, strong, natural number nine who makes the players around him better. He looks to connect, he holds the ball up and he’s obviously very, very good getting on the end of crosses.”
There is of course a big difference between being able to score consistently at USL level and then getting it done against world class defenders in MLS. But Robinson is paying close attention to his progress and tells us that he wants to see what he can do in a first team environment.
And that opportunity could come real soon.
“He needs to keep scoring goals and continue doing what he’s doing, ” Robinson told AFTN at Whitecaps training this week when we asked him what Greig needs to do to make the jump. “Kyle’s come in and he hasn’t surprised me because I knew what he could do. He’s been excellent with Alan. We have a young team in the USL and he’s been a perfect example of a leader.
“He will get opportunities with us, whether it’s in the Champions League or the Amway Canadian Championship, and he deserves it at the moment. He scores. A lot of his goals are similar. You know where he picks the ball up and he puts it in the back of the net. It’s a good habit to have. The doors are certainly open for Kyle, as well as a number of other players there.”
For his part, Greig is just taking it all in his stride. He’s not getting too ahead of himself or expecting anything. Just focusing on the job in hand, scoring goals and continuing WFC2’s unbeaten run. But the target of a MLS contract is still very much in his plans.
“We’ve had opportunities to play with the first team and play in a couple of exhibition games, earlier in the preseason,” Greig told us this week. “Honestly, I’m just focused on my job here and whatever they want to do and however they go forward with things, that’s another conversation.
“To be honest, I’m just focusing on my job, day in and day out, on the training ground and in games and just continuing to do my job because I’m enjoying it here. “
Greig’s seven goals see him leading the WFC2 goalscoring charts. He also sits second in all of the USL, two behind LA Galaxy’s goal machine Jack McBean, leaving him naturally delighted by not only his start, but the team’s as a whole.
“As a forward you just want to get into a rhythm,” Greig said. “Each game I play I want to score and I want to help the team win, and I do that by either scoring or just being a part of the build up or just doing my individual job. Obviously it’s good to score goals, but at the same time I’m really more focused on the result and if the goals are coming then I’m happy.”
Spearheaded by Greig, WFC2 have hit 15 goals so far this season, averaging more than two a game, and the big striker has struck up a great partnership with Daniel Haber, scoring 10 goals between them.
They’re two very different styles of players, a fact that drew Koch to have them both as his attack. Your typical big man/small man striking tandem, and one which Greig is thoroughly enjoying being a part of.
“Both of us are very hungry players,” Greig told us. “We both want to score goals a lot, so there’s a good little competition between us. In training, before we go out together, we’re working on technical things just to not only get chemistry with each other but just to improve each and every day and I think that translates to the field.”
It’s certainly translating to results, with the ‘Caps currently leading the Western Conference standings. But speak with Greig, Koch or any member of the squad and no-one is getting caught up about that right now.
“It’s obviously good to see yourself at the top of the table,” Greig said. “But at the same time, going into the LA game I wasn’t thinking we’ve got to be top of the table because it doesn’t really matter where you are throughout the season. Yeah it gives us confidence, but it really matters where you are at the end of the season. Our job here is trying to take each and every game at a time and try and get three points and that’s our focus.”
Away from the goalscoring side, we’ve joked about the whole veteran aspect of Greig before when we chatted with him preseason. Greig himself is only 26-years-old, hardly an old-timer, but this is his fourth season in the USL. He knows the league and he’s shown he can perform in it, with 22 goals and four assists to his name from 76 overall USL appearances in his first three seasons before coming to Vancouver.
Greig now finds himself on a WFC2 squad with five teenagers and a further 12 players aged between 20-23. So does he feel like an old man out there and in the locker room with them?!
“I do feel older but it’s not as if the players I’m playing with are immature on the field, ” Greig said. “They all are hungry to prove themselves on this team as well and hopefully push forward to the first team. That’s the goal for everybody else too, regardless of your age.
“[When I came here] I didn’t know that I was going to be the oldest person on the team but I figured there was quite a bit of a chance as I saw that they’d signed some young guys in the offseason. “
Koch has been delighted with what Greig has brought to the locker room and the leadership he has shown on the pitch, and the striker was named team captain at the start of the season.
It’s not something that Greig chased or expected when he came here, but he’s relishing the opportunity it has provided him.
“I’ve been a guy that’s always more led by example, so I’ve kind of taken over and changed my personality a bit to be vocal as well”, Greig explained. “I wouldn’t say I want to go to a place where I can be a captain, because I never thought I’d be captain. It just kind of happened. I’m blessed for the opportunity.”