As the fans grow more and more restless, just where do Vancouver Whitecaps current problems lie?

As the fans grow more and more restless, just where do Vancouver Whitecaps current problems lie?

As I sit here in front of my laptop, staring at the blank screen, my mind is wandering. It was another lacklustre heart-free game by the struggling Vancouver Whitecaps. I have lost track of how long it has been since I have been excited to watch this team. I know it is the dog days of summer, but it is really hard week after week, and game after game, to write about this team.

Us bloggers in Vancouver should be used to this midsummer and late season collapse, but it never gets easier. We could all just run the same story every week and just change the name of the opposition. We could keep the same name of the struggling Whitecaps players, talk about the chances they missed, and how the back four was below average at best.

The past three weeks we have really seen this team take a hit online and in the media. The buzz from last season, when the Vancouver Canucks and BC Lions were struggling, is gone. The atmosphere in BC Place has deflated faster than the roof did in the stadium on January 6th 2007.

The locals are mad and they are calling for people’s heads….. And no-one is safe…

Some hardcore Whitecaps supporters on Twitter are calling for #LenarduzziOut.


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At half-time of the KC game, Bobby Lenarduzzi gave an interview with Perry Solkowski and his lack of effort, excitement and answers that paying supporters wanted to hear riled up the masses. He admitted that they will not be spending millions on a quality Designated Player and will continue to invest in the youth.

Well long term that isn’t such a bad idea, but it hasn’t worked out the past few seasons with getting Residency (or even USL) players up to the MLS first team.

This season we have seen the emergence of Residency players moving on up to the USL Whitecaps 2 side. We have seen Kadin Chung, Alphonso Davies and Matthew Baldisimo step up and give Alan Koch great minutes, and the future is bright with them in the wings. But now we need to see the next step. We need these players to get MLS minutes and make a difference. We are seeing it at a smaller scale with Davies getting minutes and continuing to improve game after game.

But this also is a story we have seen before. Remember Ben Fisk, Bryce Alderson and Caleb Clarke? They were all great Residency players who were supposed to be the ones to make the big jump and be serviceable MLS players. None succeeded, and neither have the Residency graduates that followed them.

But whose fault is that?

Is it the Whitecaps front office committee (“affectionately” known as the Football Death Panel) headed by Lenarduzzi, Greg Anderson and Rachel Lewis?

Do we blame Carl Robinson, who has brought in the players and hasn’t gotten the results he thinks he should get out of them?

Or is the blame solely on the underachieving players, who at times this season have been, I hate to say it, really, really shitty in all aspects of the game?

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Personally I think the problems this season have been a mixture of all three of the above questions.

This team needs a big time difference maker. Someone who can take over the game and be the difference between. Someone who can turn losses into draws, and turns draws into wins.

And Greg Kerfoot, and the other Whitecaps invisible owners, sorry but those players cost money. Millions and millions of dollars, and sometimes tens of millions of dollars. In today’s world of professional soccer, money talks. Any player will play for any team in any league if the money is right. That is the reason why the Chinese Super League landed a handful of top soccer players this past year.

I know we aren’t spending that kind of money, but $5-$10 million on a world class striker should not be out of the question for a team like the Whitecaps. When you look at the expansion fee paid by the Whitecaps in 2011, and the crazy amount it is now for new teams coming in (and then divvied up) to the league, that’s just a drop in the ocean.

The owners of this team need to be vocal and let the supporters know that this is not acceptable and they understand the frustration. The day to day hardcore supporters need to hear from someone other than Robinson and Lenarduzzi that the future will be bright. They need to reassure the people who spend their hard earned money on tickets, food and merchandise that next year will be different.

These are problems that the casual Whitecaps fans have no clue about, but the complaints are starting to be heard in aspects of the media in Vancouver.

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There is something different about Robinson this season. He has seemed to lose his spark and fun he usually showed on the sidelines. He seems to be repeating the same story over and over again about not giving players opportunities in games when they struggle, but then you see a player like Matias Laba and Pedro Morales struggle and get the starts (albeit Laba was finally dropped last night and didn’t seem too happy about it on Twitter). He has continued to put players out of position on the pitch and not put them in the proper positions to succeed.

What the front office needs to know about Robinson is he doesn’t need the Whitecaps. With his experience, contacts in Europe, and young career in front of him, he can get a job in most leagues. Sure he might not get a top notch managerial job right away, but he could get a job closer to Wales and his family.

He has always said he had a seven year plan to be a manager in professional soccer. That plan was fast tracked and it only took three years. There is nothing stopping him from moving over to England and taking a Football League Championship or League One job.

He may not have the pick of the top quality teams, but he could get himself into the door and have a long respectable career over there.

Let’s just hope that the front office doesn’t push Robinson out this off season and blow this whole team up and start all over without a long term plan in place.

With all the struggling players like Laba, Morales, Kendall Waston and Cristian Techera getting a lots of minutes week after week, something has to change and it has to change quick. We know all the players can’t be quality all season long but it also helps when they don’t all struggle at the same time. When they do we get all the exciting football we have seen in the past six weeks.

Maybe the owners, front office and coaching staff will get the message when these “sell-out” crowds start falling faster than Felix Baumgartner’s world record freefall parachute jump. Would they notice if the Southsiders, Curva Collective and Rain City Brigade supporters’ groups protested in silence the next home game? Would they notice if the whole supporters’ section turned their backs to the pitch for the first ten minutes of the next home game?

With all that doom and gloom, we can still advance in Champions League and win a Cascadia Cup this season….

Yippee for that. Am I right guys?…

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Aaron Campbell
Authored by: Aaron Campbell

There are 12 comments for this article
  1. F ribery at 14:25

    Robbo absolutely not the issue. He’s doing his best with his meager squad. Vancouver is in the top third in MLS attendance, but dead last in spending. The cheapskate owners/ management need to fork out dollars for some top notch talent, or sell / leave the team. This is an NASL talent team that competes in MLS only because of a world class goalkeeper and a fantastic maanger.

  2. Rhm at 17:12

    The change option missing is

    “Pressure Owners to Sell Team”.

    The reality is they are all retired, living cautiously off their stock buyouts from over a decade ago. We need owners like Aquilini who have a real business and sports is a side passion (not expected to fund a person’s retirement).

    Until the owners change all else is irrelevant and that has been proven now since 2011. Unfortunately they hijacked Vancouver’s chance for an MLS team by playing to our hearts with the “whitecaps” name (which they purchased)..,I regret opposing Aquilinis early bid.

  3. Charlie Town at 21:21

    FYI:

    The Caps are actually very high up in league spending and Lenarduzzi has nothing to do with player decisions. The players on this team are Robbo’s and Robbo’s alone. Please make base your comments on this truth.

  4. Aaron Campbell at 22:29

    Change of ownership could be the answer but finding an owner with the same plan for one of the best residency programs in North America could he difficult.

  5. Alex at 04:19

    If you know the league, then you would know that Owners/Management/league have a big influence on how the squad and team is built.

    Robbo is not the problem.

    The problem lies with the office. I’ve seen this situation before. I’ve lived through it as a former fan of Toronto FC. The Whitecaps have hit a stag-point this season which happens to all clubs. But if this doesn’t change for next year then the Whitecaps will be in a downward spiral that will set them back. Which shouldn’t happen.

    It’s obvious that this past off season was very poor. The recruitment was terrible. And it has been poor throughout the season. The scouting during this season have been below “Rookie”. We need to get Soccer minded people in that office and let’s build a squad next year that will bring home the MLS CUP.

    Any question please feel free to ask

  6. Rhm at 05:51

    At Charlie Town. Try learning a bit about how DPs work. Also believing that Mgmnt (ie Lenarduzzi) has no say in player selection and recruiting direction is naive to say the least. Rachel is also tasked in her operations role to keep all costs low.. The goal is to move the whitecaps to a positive cash flow ASAP with low risk. That is great when running it solely as a stand alone business however as I said owners that rely on their MLS team as a key source of income will forever limit the team.

  7. Ian at 11:29

    We do not have the striker who can make a 4 -3 – 2 -1 system work so either change the system (See 2015 Portland Timbers) or buck up and get a high level striker. Funny also that since Laba, Techera and Morales signed new contracts their play has leveled or in Techera’s case dropped off the face of the earth!

  8. Aaron Campbell at 12:47

    The resign contract then struggle move has been shown by a good number of Whitecaps players last few season.

    With Barnes contract up at end of season and the ability to buy down the Laba contract to non-DP status they can add two quality DP players and if they work out this shitty season will be forgotten fast.

  9. Rhm at 16:06

    I also laugh at the Caps goal to make their Residency program “the best”. There is a reason that unlike many teams they do not disclose their spending on development… Because it is low. Certainly not the “most” to be the “best”. Complete BS.

    How many residency players are starting in the MLS or even on the first team on a regular business compared to LA, Dallas etc….what a joke. Fans unfortunately lap it up instead of seeing it for what it is…a marketing deflection and an excuse for failure.

    Sell the team please!

  10. Greg at 22:46

    I would cancel my season tickets in a heartbeat if the Aquilini’s bought the team. They’re absolute scum bags, and don’t kid yourself if you think they aren’t more interested in making a profit over winning. There’s a reason they Canucks management has to keep pushing to make the playoffs each year (at the expense of trading away picks and prospects) over trying to actually rebuild that team.

    As for the actual Whitecaps ownership, the truth is that they’re actually fairly good owners, with one glaring exception: putting their faith in the wrong man, Lenarduzzi. By all accounts, the ownership is fairly hands off. That’s what you want. But Lenarduzzi is not a man with any experience running a high end business. There’s a vast difference between running a lower league team and a top league team. Lenarduzzi has no background in overseeing a real top league team. If the Canucks were managed as poorly as the Whitecaps have been under him, the media in this town would have been screaming for his head for years. Unfortunately, too many of the local media doesn’t know enough about soccer and are friends with him, so far too often they treat what he says as gospel.

  11. Rhm at 15:33

    Greg, the key to success is money and management. The Caps have neither. Aquilini never questioned the cost of success. The Canucks had all they needed to succeed from 2009-2011 and should have. No one can say they ever had a “cheap” owner and they went for it all-in.

    I agree Lenarduzzi is bushleague but even with a great manager the owners unfortunately are also bushleague.

  12. Greg at 19:25

    RHM,
    The Aquilini’s might have never questioned the cost of success, though it’s important to note that they also made the fans pay dearly for that success. Further, the core of the team was built before they really took over, and the minute they started to meddle (which they would do with the Whitecaps) was when the organization took a really big down turn. But, this isn’t a Canucks forum, and so with that…

    Let me be perfectly clear: I’m in FULL agreement with you that this is a cheap organization. What I think we might disagree on is the exact reasons why. The Whitecaps have been fully funding a fairly extensive academy with no return for quite a while now. That’s not cheap. The owner wanted to build his own waterfront stadium downtown. That wouldn’t be cheap. So I’m not convinced that ownership is cheap, per se. I think the problem is that at the top of the organization (primarily Lenarduzzi and Rachel Lewis), the club is convinced that you don’t need to spend big to win or to grow the club, and they’ve convinced ownership of that. I’m not sure they’re capable of crafting a business plan that involves the Whitecaps spending more in order to make more, and I’m not convinced that upper management is capable of convincing a big name DP to sign in this city. Those are problems below the ownership level, and I think they’re a big part of what’s holding this club back.

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