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

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

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


With YP Lee retiring, we already know that there’s a big right back void to fill, but will there also be a clear out elsewhere in the defence?

Sam Adekugbe

Michael: (KEEP) – An obvious keep but we have to include him! Everyone needs to temper their expectations of Sam a little so as not to put him under too much pressure to perform. We’re one of the worst I know, but we rate him very highly from watching him these past few years. He’s a level headed young pro with a bright future in the game, hopefully for the Caps for many years to come. Next season may be too early to see him claim the starters spot but it will happen, and who knows? As Yedlin has shown in Seattle, it’s talent, not age, that matters most.

Jay: (KEEP) – An easy decision, with the only question being when he will appear regularly for the first team. No reason to believe it can’t be sooner rather than later. If Harvey is kept, I hope it’s with one eye towards Sam overtaking the starter spot by the end of next season.

Christopher: (KEEP) – Sam won’t replace Jordan in 2014 and maybe not even in 2015, but at some point he will become Vancouver’s starting left full back, and remain in that role for the rest of the decade.

Aaron: (KEEP) – At 18 years of age he may be 2-3 years away from being a MLS starter. Whitecaps need to start playing the young prospects more with meaningful minutes moving forward.

Steve: (KEEP) – He’s already shown in MLS Reserves that he not only can hang playing at that level but he can excel against men. Adekugbe will be the primary backup at the left back position and will see starts with the first team and the Reserve league where he will show that his age will not be an issue.

Jay DeMerit

Jay: (TRADE) – It’d be a bit of a heartless move, considering his recent marriage to a Vancouver gal, but with the emergence of Leveron and Mitchell, and O’Brien’s new contract, DeMerit is good value to be shipped out. Perhaps he’s just allowed to sign elsewhere, considering his contract is up, but it’d be nice to extend him now and trade him at the beginning of next season.

Michael: (TRADE) – I don’t think we can keep two ageing, injury prone, high salaried central defenders around. Something’s got to give. I’ve never thought that DeMerit was as good as we needed from a captain and a player at a guaranteed $375,000. In the air yes. On the ground, scary. I feel he has great trade potential to some clubs and could get us the return we need in another position, but we will only retain his rights if we make an attempt to re-sign him. I’d keep him around if we could get him on or just above Brad Rusin money. If it’s an offseason of upheaval, it will be hard to get rid of the club’s poster boy from a general fans perspective.

Christopher: (KEEP) – I’d like to see him take a bit of a pay cut. A rolling contract would be preferred, but it may take the security of a multi-year contract to convince him to accept reduced terms. His recovery from a potential season-ending injury has been phenomenal. Underestimate him at your own peril.

Steve: (KEEP) – The Captain worked hard to get back into the lineup after suffering what seemed to be a season ending injury and he performed well late in the season. They can’t keep both DeMerit and O’Brien. If he is willing to take a pay cut then he should be welcomed back as he is the “face” of the franchise and is a domestic player.

Aaron: (TRADE) – They may not be able to afford keeping him moving forward. With his injury history it may be time to move on and look towards the future.

Jordan Harvey

Christopher: (KEEP) – The much maligned fullback has scored some important goals for Vancouver this term and earned one of the five nominations for the club’s most valuable player. In a budget league, he’s value for the money.

Steve: (TRADE) – How do you trade a player who is the leader amongst defenders in goals?  First, he is inconsistent in going forward and delivering a decent ball into the box.  Second, Harvey is very poor defensively and seems to be always out of position.  His goals currently give the left back a high value and could bring in some decent assets that will help the team get better in other positions in addition to looking for a more dynamic fullback.

Aaron: (KEEP) He has had some highest of highs and lowest of lows this season. At $112,500 this season he hasn’t played to his potential. I give him a 50/50 chance of being on the roster at the beginning of next season.

Jay: (TRADE) – Harvey has a never ending engine, and puts himself in smart attacking positions consistently, but is rather poor positionally, isn’t particularly good at 1v1 defending, and doesn’t really provide quality service. He will have value, though, as a MLS veteran and having a career year in the goal column.

Michael: (TRADE) – I fully expected him to be traded before the first transfer window closed in May this year. I do like what he’s brought to the team in an attacking sense and always preferred him in a LM role. Defensively though, which is why he’s there, he’s been picked out by teams as the weak link and been attacked in a lot of games. There would be a number of teams keen to trade for his services and I can see him heading back East. His presence off the pitch would be missed, as he is a rare find these days, a player with a real personality that is a joy to interview and livens up the dressing room.

Greg Klazura

Jay: (RELEASE) – Although a quality squad guy, his early promise quickly diminished and it’s clear he’s no longer trusted. Time for the intelligent young man to go use his education.

Aaron: (RELEASE) – Hasn’t been given a chance this season. Too far down the depth chart. Don’t see him coming back next season.

Christopher: (RELEASE) – As much as I want to see Greg succeed, it won’t be in Vancouver. Best to let him go and develop an academy player or draftee instead.

Michael: (RELEASE) – It’s just not worked out for Greg. We liked what we saw of him in the 2012 training camp when he played left back and championed him along the way. In MLS play though he had a mare and just doesn’t look top flight quality. Rennie described him as a “project”, but it looks like that’s now over. Could see him concentrating on his medical career after leaving Vancouver. We wish him well wherever he ends up and will miss what became our traditional gameday elevator chats!

Steve: (RELEASE) – It’s apparently clear that Klazura is not ready for the primetime of MLS, even if he excels in training and in reserve matches. I don’t think the Caps can get anything for him and if he is looking to continue his career in football then it will have to be in a lower league.

Johnny Leveron

Steve: (KEEP) – It took a while for the Honduran international to get into the lineup but when he did there was no doubt he was capable of playing in MLS. Next season Leveron will be the competition for a starting spot in either a central defender or a holding midfielder role.

Aaron: (KEEP) – With all the injuries he was called upon to step up and he did just fine. May be switched to a holding MF moving forward but will be a big part of this team next season and a bargain at $71,187.

Christopher: (KEEP) – In Johnny and Carlyle, Vancouver has their centre back pairing of the future… today. When they play together at the back, the Whitecaps are 4-1-1, and conceded a mere 6 goals.

Jay: (KEEP) – Leveron is young, cheap, and has ice in his veins. Honestly, if you told me Johnny would be one of our starting centrebacks next season, I wouldn’t complain.

Michael: (KEEP) – You have to keep him, but you also have to use him or lose him. Where though could be the problem. Will he retake a CB spot or move to DM or even LB? Will be a key year for the young Honduran, but he is too quality a player to not utilise.

Carlyle Mitchell

Michael: (KEEP) – The surprise package of the year. We were fans of his but didn’t know he was ready to be just as good as he proved to be. Great to see a player seize the opportunity presented to him with both hands. With a likely coaching change, preseason will be key for Mitchell or I see him falling into the back up role again. He’s cheap as chips at the moment and deserves an increase on his $46,500.

Steve: (KEEP) – No one could have expected Mitchell to be where he finished the season, especially when he started fifth on the depth chart and was loaned to FC Edmonton. He quickly established himself as one of the better defenders in the league after injury issues signalled his return to Vancouver, where despite a couple of hiccups became a solid defender for the Caps.

Aaron: (KEEP) – Has shown he needs MLS minutes moving forward. Has played like a beast all season. I see him starting as a CB next to O’Brien next season.

Christopher: (KEEP) – Although Russell and Camilo have given him a run for his money, I would say that Carlyle has been Vancouver’s most improved player. If not for numerous and sustained injuries, he might have spent the entire season in Edmonton. Instead, he’s made a case for himself as a starter next year.

Jay: (KEEP) – Easily the best on the squad in the air, and one of the most dominant in the league. Mitchell and Leveron could be the starting centreback combination for years to come.

Andy O’Brien

Aaron: (KEEP) – With his contract extension you expect that he will play a huge part next year. Hoping he continues his mentoring of Mitchell moving forward.

Michael: (KEEP) – I’m glad about that extension as I want to see him as the starter next season, but we can’t keep both him and DeMerit and I have a fear that public pressure will see DeMerit kept on a lower salary and O’Brien will move on and probably back to England, which would be a mistake by the Caps.

Steve: (TRADE) – After DeMerit went down it was O’Brien who became the leader on the backline but he couldn’t avoid his own injury issues being away for big chunks of the season. His taking up an international spot would be the only reason that I would think he would leave. Of course if a deal with DeMerit can’t be completed then O’Brien should return as a starter.

Jay: (KEEP) – While he’s getting on in age, O’Brien proved yet again to be a reliable leader at the back. He seems to genuinely be happy in Vancouver, and his no nonsense yet clever defending has earned him another year.

Christopher: (KEEP) – For a while there, he was probably Vancouver’s most valuable player. When match fit, he should play. Cheaper than DeMerit but still expensive at $230,012.

Brad Rusin

Christopher: (TRADE) – Like the rest of Vancouver’s centre backs, he’s had more than his fair share of injuries. If DeMerit and O’Brien are going to be sticking around, he has to as well. If one of them were replaced by a younger player, he might find himself on the trading block.

Jay: (TRADE) – He’s done well when called upon, but it’s clear both Mitchell and Leveron have moved passed Brad on the depth chart. He’s too expensive to be your 4th choice centreback, so the Whitecaps would be wise to trade him to a team with defensive woes like TFC for another high draft pick.

Michael: (RELEASE) – I don’t know what it is about Rusin, but I’ve never really taken to him on the team. Just don’t feel he’s good enough for the top level. He’s last in the pecking order now for me and his $120,000 salary can’t justify that. If we could get a trade, then great but I can’t see anyone wanting him on the current salary and with his injuries and lack of gametime this year.

Steve: (TRADE) – There was nothing particularly wrong with Rusin’s play this season as he showed he can be a solid depth player and a spot starter in MLS. However at his salary and the emergence of Mitchell, as well as Leveron, the defender should be traded.  He could bring some allocation money which will help elsewhere.

Aaron: (KEEP) – Has had such bad luck with all the injuries this season. Hopefully he can stay healthy and been a dependable CB sub next season.


So that’s the end of the second part of our 2013 player analysis. On the whole, consensus was reached but some of the more contentious players are a little more polarizing, which I’m sure many also are to those reading this.

In part three, we’ll take a look at the midfielders, which yes, the Whitecaps did apparently have a few of this season.

But leave your thoughts on what you’d like to do with the Caps’ current crop of defenders.

Authored by: Michael McColl

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Anonymous at 03:46

    Solid assessment. Demerit definitely has to go. He costs way too much and is past it. Yep, he's settled in Vancouver but there is no place for emotion in what has to be a very tough pre-season of culling players and the manager.

  2. Anonymous at 03:46

    Solid assessment. Demerit definitely has to go. He costs way too much and is past it. Yep, he's settled in Vancouver but there is no place for emotion in what has to be a very tough pre-season of culling players and the manager.

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

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