The Whitecaps’ capitulation in the Kansas humidity, brought us to the halfway stage of the MLS season.
With the second half of the season getting underway in Toronto tonight, what better way to kill the time than by looking at a midterm report of the Caps season so far.
It’s been exciting at times and not very pretty at others. I started the season full of hope and optimism that we would clinch one of the ten playoff spots. Seventeen games later and I still think we can, just not as confident we will.
Thinking we’d get into the playoffs in our inaugural MLS season wasn’t false expectations or an inflated self importance of our beloved team. It was partly based on our history, partly based on the squad we’d assembled, partly based on us having a full season to build and prepare for these pastures new, and partly based on the Club themselves telling us that we were not an ordinary expansion team.
I decided to PVR all of our games this year and to keep the exciting ones I’d want to watch again. I only have three recordings left (Toronto, Kansas City and New England), all home games and all from early in the season.
Somethings have clearly gone wrong somewhere along the line. Pinpointing them precisely is not so certain.
It would be easy to blame the injuries, but we were meant to have a squad of suitable depth. The constant tinkering of the side in these first three months hasn’t always been down to the injury situation.
Some blame can go down to the managers’ tactics, where we’ve been left scratching our heads at times. The players also have to shoulder the blame. They have simply not performed at the required level on a consistent basis. Some have flattered to deceive, some have flat out disappointed.
If you were to look at how many of our guys would interest other MLS sides for trades, you’re counting the number on your fingers and you’re barely needing your two hands.
Let’s look at some hard, cold MLS facts.
GAMES PLAYED/POINTS WON:
Overall: Played 17 – Won 2 – Drawn 8 – Lost 7 – Points 14
At Home: Played 8 – Won 2 – Drawn 5 – Lost 1 – Points 11
Away: Played 9 – Won 0 – Drawn 3 – Lost 6 – Points 3
You don’t have to be a mathematical whizz to see where we’re struggling. We can’t buy a win away from home, although that may change in Toronto.
Averaging less than a point per game is not playoff material.
We’ve lost 5 of those 7 defeats by a single goal.
Overall: Played 17 – Goals For 18 – Goals Against 24
At Home: Played 8 – Goals For 12 – Goals Against 10
Away: Played 9 – Goals For 6 – Goals Against 14
Before the season started, we were all asking where are all the goals going to come from. After the first two home games, we wondered what we were worrying about. Now, the worries are back and our defence, which we felt to be so strong, has been run ragged at times, no matter which weird combinations have been played there.
We’re averaging scoring 1.06 goals per game and conceding 1.41 goals. We’ve failed to score in 5 of the 17 games (29.4%), and four of those blanks have come away from home.
That’s not very happy reading.
I thought about trying to rate the players, the managers, even the positions on the field, but what’s the point?!
We know where our main problems lie.
We badly need to tighten up at the back. I think Joe Cannon is a better shot stopper than Jay Nolly. He’ll keep the scores down and make few mistakes, but he can’t do it on his own. Our full backs are getting pulled out of position way too often and are leaving gaps, which our central defenders have struggled with when it comes to pace and the ball on the deck.
With the apparent sad release of Mouloud Akloul, we need some experienced depth in the middle and/or at right back.
In midfield we have to get an experienced creative man for the middle of the park that can spray the ball around like nobody’s business. I know every team would like that. We NEED that.
Back in the 1990’s, my team in Scotland (East Fife) signed veteran international Stevie Archibald as player/manager. He played in the middle of the park and although he no longer had the same pace, his footballing brain ran the show. One match I always remember is when he stopped, put his foot on the ball, pulled up both his socks and not one player went anywhere near him. That’s the kind of guy we need right now to get things going.
Davide Chiumiento may like to play behind the strikers or in the middle but he’s been way more effective with us on the wings. Keep him there.
Up front, Eric Hassli needs help. He is having to play either too deep or too wide and is often the one crossing the ball into the box or playing the through ball, both to where he should be to bury it. He’s good, but some of his finishing has been less than we should expect.
Camilo is a strange one. He’s getting the goals but often seems to do little else in a game. Still, I’d take that if he gets a goal a game, but as the season gets into the latter stages, we can’t afford passengers.
If the Caps are to make a serious playoff push then I’m expecting to see four new players in the transfer window – a defender, two midfielders and a striker.
Some of our old faves are likely to be on their way out, along with some which, frankly, I’m indifferent about.
Tommy Soehn needs to show us why he has this manager’s job by his acquisitions and tactics going forward.
With all that said, I would still take a deep Concacaf Champions League run to making the playoffs.
Being a greedy bastard, I want both.
Two games and four days in Toronto could be very season shaping indeed.
Mon the Caps.