Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2019 season is thankfully finally over and everyone is put out of their misery. So that can only mean one thing. No, not team implosions (not this year anyway), but it’s time for Steve to kick off our end of season analysis with our annual In, Out, On The Bubble feature.
While some may assume that there will be another purge similar to last season, it could not be further from the truth. The coaching staff want to keep some continuity so expect some players who in normal seasons would be candidates to be moved, to actually remain for the first half of next season at least.
We had a chat about who should stay and who should go on a recent podcast, but below is listed Steve’s thoughts on who he thinks will be brought back, who definitely looks to be on their way out, and who is in limbo. Let us know if you agree.
IN: Maxime Crepeau, Thomas Hasal
BUBBLE: Sean Melvin
OUT: Zac MacMath
No matter what some ‘experts’ may say, Maxime Crepeau has established himself as a MLS goalkeeper and is the only real candidate for the ‘Caps best player this season. Thomas Hasal in his first full season as a pro will return and be slotted in as the third keeper on the roster.
Unless the Whitecaps rate Sean Melvin as a MLS backup, there is no way the Canadian keeper should want to stay. If he chooses to go to the CPL, he immediately becomes a regular starter and one of the top three in his position in the league.
While there was opportunity for him to take the starting position in January, MacMath was rooted to the bench for most of the season and is a luxury that the ‘Caps can’t afford if they want to improve elsewhere.
IN: Derek Cornelius, Jasser Khmiri, Ali Adnan, Georges Mukumbilwa
BUBBLE: Doneil Henry, Erik Godoy, Jake Nerwinski, Scott Sutter, Brett Levis
OUT: Brendan McDonough, Victor ‘PC’ Giro
After the investment made midseason in Ali Adnan there is no doubt that the left back will return. Both Derek Cornelius, who played, and Jasser Khmiri, who didn’t, are young and show potential to be bona fide starters in MLS at centre half. Residency product Georges Mukumbilwa, who is projected at RB/RWB/RW, was just signed late in the season and begin his first full year in January.
There’s a case to argue that the future of Doneil Henry and Erik Godoy with the ‘Caps could be connected. One of them might be deemed expendable if they feel the Khmiri is good to go as a starter or who else may have come onto MDS’ radar this past year. The key will be how much is the fee for Godoy because payment for him will mean less money in other positions and that could be a hit the ‘Caps are prepared to take to allow them to strengthen elsewhere in a salary cap environment. They could also make up that part of their budget by selling or trading Henry within MLS and of course there is a strong chance both of them will remain with the club.
At right back both Jake Nerwinski and Scott Sutter could stay and platoon the position. If MDS wants to upgrade the position, the question will be if he wants a new starter which will mean that Nerwinski will be traded or does he bring in a younger player to compete with Jake, which means Sutter doesn’t return.
There is a very slight chance that Brendan McDonough returns as a depth player but after being loaned out to USL side Charlotte Independence, where he did not make any impact, most likely the Whitecaps will look to import players that fit their profile or utilize their high SuperDraft pick at that position. There feels no chance that Victor ‘PC’ Giro will be back in any spot on the left side of the pitch.
IN: Inbeom Hwang, Russell Teibert, Andy Rose, Michael Baldisimo, Simon Colyn, Georges Mukumbilwa
OUT: Jon Erice
The majority of midfielders that weren’t in MDS’ future plans were dispatched during the season (Felipe Martins and David Norman Jr). Of the ones staying only Inbeom Hwang is assured a starting spot but he will need a lot of help. Both Russell Teibert and Andy Rose are ideal players to come off the bench and could be spot starters, but the days of both of them being in the starting lineup should be over.
Both Michael Baldisimo and Simon Colyn will be given time to develop but it will be up to them to earn their time in the starting lineup and matchday squads. Recently signed Residency product Georges Mukumbilwa, who is projected at RB/RWB/RW, was just signed late in the season and will begin his first full year in January, having already got his debut under his belt in the season finale at home to RSL on Sunday.
The addition of Jon Erice was much heralded at the beginning of the season but has been a major disappointment. Whether that was due to the rigors of the new environment, the pace of the league, or just not fitting the system, the ‘Caps will have to find a team to take the player off their roster whether that is in MLS or more likely back in Spain.
IN: Yordy Reyna, Theo Bair
BUBBLE: Michaell Chirinos, Fredy Montero, Tosaint Ricketts
OUT: Lass Bangoura, Joaquin Ardaiz, Anthony Blondell
The attack will need a bit of a facelift but one player that has an open invitation to return is Yordy Reyna, who may decide that he wants to explore his opportunities. The other guaranteed returnee is Theo Bair who has showed enough flashes, including scoring the ‘Caps official Goal of the Year, to be a part of the solution next year.
Montero could return if they are able to buy him down and make him at least a TAM player who can contribute off the bench, if the Caps can afford that luxury. Both Tosaint Ricketts and Michaell Chirinos arrived later in the season and the big question for them is whether they have shown enough to return next season. Ricketts is by far the cheaper option, but both could return depending on what it would take to secure the services of the Honduran.
The loan deals for Lass Bangoura and Joaquin Ardaiz will not be extended because their tenure with the ‘Caps was very disappointing. While Blondell has another year left on his contract with Vancouver, it’s highly unlikely he will return to the team next season.