Coach Martin Rennie has only one way at looking at the new season for his Vancouver Whitecaps. This season has to be better than last. They finished in fifth place in the Western Conference and lost to eventual MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy in the knockout phase of the playoffs. It was a bright year for the team, but this season brings higher expectations and therefore more pressure for Rennie.
The core of last season’s successful campaign is back, but it’s the additions and the maturing of a raw talent that should take the Whitecaps closer to the top of the table.
All the additions will be looked at to provide early dividends. Daigo Kobayashi will bring some flair to the middle of the park while Nigel Reo-Coker will bring the steel. Youngsters Paulo Junior, Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado will bring speed to an already quick lineup. The Whitecaps went out with a purpose in the transfer market and in the end, they made all the right moves.
Rennie has plenty of decisions to make in finalizing the eleven that will take the BC Place pitch against Toronto FC. Two players should pencil themselves in as captain: Jay DeMerit and future superstar Darren Mattocks will be looked at to lead the Whitecaps.
Mattocks has the striker role all to himself to start the season, but needs show more maturity and respect to the game and his opposition. His swagger and mouth have already predicted a twenty goal season. If he does accomplish that feat, then the Whitecaps will move up higher than the fifth place in last year’s table. All he really has to do is stay healthy. The same can be said about DeMerit. When he is on the pitch, the team is 100 percent better with his leadership driving the squad.
The Whitecaps and their fans are in for a very interesting season. They have made some changes, but will it be enough to move up the standings? If the team doesn’t make the playoffs this year, it will be the end of the line for coach Rennie and for captain DeMerit. It is playoffs or bust for the franchise.
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