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

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 midfielders.  

(You  can read part one on the goalkeepers HERE and part two on the defenders HERE). 

Here’s our thoughts. We want to read yours below….


It was clear to everyone from early on that the Whitecaps midfield was the weakest area of the field, with no effective depth and very little creativity. Everyone but Martin Rennie it appeared, who was quite happy to keep the players he had and not strengthen in the transfer window. The results were clear to see for most of the season until the late change to the diamond formation paid off with some decent displays. Next season though has to see changes.

Aminu Abdallah 

Jay: (RELEASE) – I’ve seen nothing which suggests Abdallah deserves the contract or development time ahead of someone like Alderson (or Fisk, or Froese, or Bustos.) Time for Aminu to bid adieu.  

Steve: (RELEASE) – This season’s version of Tiago Ulisses or Alex Morfaw, Abdallah has shown very little in PDL and Reserve action to warrant a spot on the team next season.  There were a number CIS and academy players that outperformed the Ghanaian and the fact that he takes up an international spot seals the deal. 

Michael: (RELEASE) – I’m prepared to go one step further and say he was one of the worst players I’ve ever seen in a Whitecaps jersey. Some horrible PDL performances. If he can’t even shine at that level, what’s the point? Have to really question how the hell he was allowed to not only fill a MLS spot but also a valuable international one at that. Give that $46,500 to a Residency prospect asap. 

Christopher: (KEEP) – I expect Aminu’s career path to mirror Carlyle’s. He’s not ready yet, but he’ll be well worth the wait. 

Aaron: (KEEP) – Will more then likely be loaned out next season to give him quality minutes to help with his development.

Bryce Alderson 

Christopher: (KEEP) – He’s 19 years old, Canadian, and homegrown. No reason to ask this question for at least another three years. 

Aaron: (KEEP) – Had a good season in Charlestonbut needs to start playing at a MLS level. Still young enough to be loaned out again but decisions will need to be made on his future. 

Steve: (KEEP) – He started the season with a knee injury, which hampered his ability to get a spot on the Charleston Battery right away. He is still way too young to give up on and should either go out on loan or be a depth player where he will get his minutes in Reserve matches. 

Jay: (KEEP) – We’re getting close to time to make a decision on the one promising youngster. Perhaps one more season spent on loan, or even working him in to a few reserve games and substitute appearances.  

Michael: (KEEP) – Agree. Next season is going to be a make or break one for Bryce with the Whitecaps. His injury was frustrating to all, but the 2012 season was more frustrating for me as he showed well in preseason then wasn’t given any chance to show what he had. I feel he’s lost nearly two years development and really needs to have a good 2014, somewhere.

Jun Marques Davidson 

Aaron: (RELEASE) – He been the fans whipping boy all season long. Can’t see him being here next season. Sure his $78,019 guaranteed salary is a third of others but he hasn’t played well at all.

Steve: (TRADE) – People either liked Davidson or couldn’t stand how he played negatively in the midfield.  If the Caps are going to bring in a couple of midfielders I don’t see them keeping him as a depth player.  Not sure if any team will want him in a trade so a full release is possible. 

Michael: (KEEP) – Couldn’t disagree more. He’s played excellently much of the season. People criticise his defensive style but he is clearly playing the way Rennie wanted him to as a DM, otherwise he wouldn’t have kept getting starts. I don’t think he’ll be a starter next season but definitely want to keep him on the squad as back up and for certain away games.  

Christopher: (KEEP) – I’ve always said that Davidson is at his best when you can’t remember him doing anything. In that, he’s the anti-DeMerit. He doesn’t need to make a last minute tackle because he’s usually already broken up the play through his awareness and positioning.

Jay: (KEEP) – As critical as I’ve been of Jun at times, I do feel there’s a place for him and his contract value isn’t terrible. Ideally, I’d love an upgrade in his position; someone who could both be the smart defensive support, but also someone who can spring an attack as well. However, this is not our position of greatest need, so we should hold on to Jun unless something magical appears.

Daigo Kobayashi 

Michael: (RELEASE) – Too little, too late from the Japanese midfielder. Was it due to Rennie playing him in the wrong position or just that he isn’t up to the standard needed for MLS. In all honesty, it’s probably both. His linking up with his friend Manneh was good the last few games, but I’m not prepared to give him another expensive season to see if he can do this for more than a couple of games a season. A busted flush and can’t see anyone wanting to trade for him, so set him free. 

Aaron: (KEEP) – Fourth highest paid Whitecap at $238,833 guaranteed this year and third highest on base. That was the biggest surprise when the salaries where made public. I think he has had the Kenny Miller type freshman slump. Next year will be the season where he has to prove he is worth the pay. 

Steve: (TRADE) – When Kobayashi was brought in at the beginning of the season, most believed he would replace the playmaking ability of Chiumiento. Unfortunately he was put in a wide position by the coaching staff where he was invisible to the point that he could not get into the starting eleven.  He showed flashes but was it enough for Rennie or a new coach to keep him at such a high salary? 

Christopher: (KEEP) – He reminds me of another Japanese number 10 who can’t seem to catch a break in his preferred position. When he’s on, he can be amazing. He has too much talent to let go. But he’s not a winger. 

Jay: (RELEASE) – I’ve been a big supporter of Daigo’s all year. I do feel he’s been misused and if he had been played in a number 10 role all year and the rest of the squad had been focused on building the attack through him, that he would have flourished. Unfortunately, he only got a look there late in the season. Too little, too late, and we can’t gamble on him finding his feet at that expensive salary.


Gershon Koffie 

Steve: (KEEP) – There will be questions as to what happened to Koffie down the stretch of the season.  Did the coaches mess with his game to the point where he got confused or does Koffie need to show more consistency and edge to his game.  He has too much potential to give up on and next season should be given a chance to possibly play DM full time.

Jay: (KEEP) – After two seasons of big steps forward, Gersh took a sidestep. Developed certain parts of his game, but stalled in others. At times it seems like there hasn’t been enough room out there for Koffie when Reo-Coker is on the field, but there is still plenty of reason to believe Gersh can contribute.  

Christopher: (KEEP) – He’s had an up and down season. It feels like he’s been around forever, so it’s easy to forget that he just turned 22. As much as I personally loathe the practice, Vancouver’s 28 may one day be held in the same regard as 5, 10, and 21. 

Aaron: (KEEP) – The selling Gershon to Europe talk has stopped lately. Has benefitted from Reo-Coker’s experience this season. Needs to start controlling his body on challenges to get the yellow card count down.

Michael: (KEEP but TRADE if a good deal came along): I just don’t get this love affair people seem to have for Koffie. What is it that they’re seeing that I seem to be completely missing? He has a couple of great games a season, scores a couple of goals, but on the whole is far too inconsistent and can’t control his tackling and often his wild shots. He looked ok as a DM and this could be the role for him as he certainly isn’t the attacking or creative midfielder that the Caps are needing as a starter. I would gladly trade him for a more experienced, reliable and consistent MLS midfielder if one was to come along. He is not a $176,000 MLS player right now.

Nigel Reo-Coker 

Jay: (KEEP) – I had written this big long bit about why we should release Nigel. Missing in action during the most important moments of the season, poor defending, goes missing for giant swaths of games. He’s going to want a salary bump. Quite frankly, he doesn’t deserve it. However, the one thing Nigel has going for him is that without him, our midfield would have been a complete abomination. Unless we go out and completely revamp our midfield, I think he must be brought back if only because we have no other options.  

Steve: (KEEP) – He may have faded a little in the final stages of the season but you definitely have to say where would the Caps be without Reo-Coker in the midfield?  On some nights he was the only factor in the middle and made some incredible runs.  However he hasn’t shown enough to earn a DP contract that was rumoured in the preseason but should get a bump in his salary.

Michael: (KEEP but only on right deal and there is dressing room harmony) – Can’t disagree with any of the above. I wrote an article of NRC a few weeks back and nothing has changed my mind since then. He was the only midfielder to really come away from this season with any credit but isn’t worth too much more of a payrise above his guaranteed $237,362 and certainly not DP money. Will he want to stay for that amount of money when he could definitely get more back in the UK? Can the right deal be done? How much harmony or disharmony does he actually bring to the dressing room? If the answer to all of these questions is positive, then glad to have him around for 2014. If not, happy to see him go and sad at the same time.

Christopher: (KEEP) – He’s performed as expected and no doubt will be a designated player next year. He may even end up as Captain on a permanent basis.

Aaron: (KEEP) – Has been a reliable midfielder in a horrible midfield season this year. Needs to work on his finishing for sure. Still don’t think he deserves DP money next season.

Russell Teibert 

We’re putting him in with the midfielders as that is his natural position. 

Aaron: (KEEP) – Has shown what a young prospect can do when they get quality MLS minutes. Will need to add more scoring touch to his game for next season. Adding 7-10 lbs of muscle can only help him attacking defenders. 

Steve: (KEEP) – The ‘broken’ Canadian emerged as a threat in the attack and established himself as a starter in MLS leading the team in assists with 8, despite suffering through a period of illness. Here’s hoping the coaching staff next season recognizes how well his game is suited centrally where he can be a playmaker and penetrate the backline with his runs. 

Christopher: (KEEP) – In 2012, Paul Ritchie personally took Russell under his wing. Now he’s learning from Nigel Reo-Coker. There’s a reason he’s nicknamed Canadian Soccer Jesus. He has nowhere to go but up.

Michael: (KEEP) – As with Alderson, next season is going to be a vital one for Teibert’s future with the Caps and maybe in MLS. He had a good two months this year, but that was about it and for me he is a little overrated, as his play the rest of the time showed. He definitely has potential and skill but these will need to be utilised properly next season to show consistent growth. Without it, I could see him moving on down the line, but I also feel that we won’t have to worry about that as I think a new coach will bring the best out of Teibert. I do like his cheapness at $65,600. 

Jay: (KEEP) – A real rollercoaster year for the trendy youngster who at times dominated his side of the park, and at the end of the year lost his starting spot to Matt Watson. Either way, his technical ability and unreal work ethic is worth keeping him around. 


Matt Watson 

Christopher: (KEEP) – Even if Matty weren’t a fan-favourite, an Englishman, and a decent footballer who deserves to play at this level, I’d still recommend keeping him around. His tireless work rate on the training ground can be infectious. He has a positive impact on those around him. 

Steve: (KEEP) – An honest effort and a high work rate is what you’re going to get when Watson is on the pitch for the Caps.  He may not be the most gifted player but MLS teams need players like him at his rate on the roster.  He is a fan favourite and one of the unsung players on the team.

Aaron: (KEEP) – Has been a decent all season. They need a player of his skill set to fill holes next season. At $79,251 guaranteed, he can fill many needs when injuries occur. 

Jay: (KEEP) – Runs all day, trains hard, seems like a genuine guy that everyone likes, and he’s on a cheap salary. Don’t see why you would get rid of him.  

Michael: (RELEASE) – Funny you should say that. I’ll tell you why! Hard work and a lot or running can only get you so far and at the top level of the game you need more to be an impactful midfielder. As great a guy as Matty is, he doesn’t have the skills to pay the bills. He can’t finish, as he showed us last week in Colorado. Watson role in the squad is primarily to be the go to guy to fill in for injuries, out of form players, or to bring a refreshing change. We need a better player than he is to fill that role. If he took a pay cut and was the third or fourth in the midfield depth then maybe I’d keep him around, but otherwise not only can we do better but we should be expecting and demanding that we bring in better. 

So that’s our midfield round-up. Do you agree with the guys? Or are we, or some of us at least, talking out of our ass?  

Let us know your thoughts below. 

Tomorrow, it’s the striker’s turn.
Authored by: Michael McColl

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  1. Pingback: Keep, Trade or Release 2015: A Vancouver Whitecaps player analysis (Part Two – Midfielders and Forwards) | AFTN

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