Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - The Vancouver Whitecaps took a big step
forward in their sophomore MLS campaign by reaching the postseason for the
first time in their short franchise history.
The 'Caps opened 2012 with an impressive four-game unbeaten run before finally
losing for the first time to San Jose. But the positive vibes were flowing for
the majority of the season as the club finished fifth in the Western
Conference with 43 points to claim the final playoff berth.
The good feelings came to an end with a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy in
the knockout round, but the Whitecaps have good reason for optimism in 2013.
Speedy forward Darren Mattocks had a breakout season last term, and the 'Caps
will likely go as far as the feet of Mattocks can carry them in 2013.
Mattocks, 23, was the second-overall selection in the 2012 SuperDraft and
played in 21 games last season. He found the back of the net seven times and
added one assist in the regular season and scored the club's lone playoff
goal against Los Angeles.
Mattocks' blazing speed is a game-changer for Vancouver and gives the club a
legitimate goal threat who will be counted on to shoulder the offensive
burden this season.
In addition to Mattocks, fellow forwards Camilo and Omar Salgado will have to
step up their contributions if the Whitecaps are to advance past the knockout
round in 2013.
Salgado was made the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 SuperDraft and has not
quite lived up to the expectations of a player taken that high.
At the time of his selection, he was just 17 years old, so it is possible that
heaping the expectations of a No. 1 pick onto the shoulders of a teenager was
a bit unfair, but he has the potential to be outstanding player with a little
more seasoning and experience.
Over his first two seasons in MLS, Salgado has appeared in 21 games, with 10
starts, and bagged just one goal. The Texas native could be paired up top with
Mattocks this season, which should give him the time and space necessary to
find the back of the net with some regularity.
Camilo, meanwhile, has been a proven scoring commodity over his two seasons in
British Columbia, as the Brazil native has netted 17 goals and added 10
assists in 60 appearances. He should be able to increase his production in
2013 with Atiba Harris having moved on to Colorado in a trade.
The forward corps should have some help from attacking midfielder Paulo Jr.,
who arrived via trade from Real Salt Lake. Paulo Jr. spent three seasons in
Utah, where he scored four goals, but was counted on to orchestrate the attack
more than be the finisher.
With Camilo, Mattocks and Salgado occupying the forward slots, Paulo Jr.
should settle in nicely behind them in the attacking midfield role.
Veteran midfielders Barry Robson and John Thorrington will not be back with
the club this time around, which leaves the door open for Russell Teibert,
Gershon Koffie, Daigo Kobayashi and Bryce Alderson to battle for spots next to
Defensively, the Whitecaps finished 2012 with a minus-6 goal differential,
which will need to be improved upon if the club hopes to continue it's
United States international Jay Demerit anchors the backline, along with
veteran defenders Alain Rochat and Jordan Harvey. Harvey is a sturdy left
back, while Demerit and Rochat will play centrally, leaving the right
back spot to Young-Pyo Lee, who started 33 of Vancouver's 34 games last
The 'Caps should make the postseason for a second consecutive term, but just
how far they can go will depend on the scoring prowess of Mattocks.
2012 IN REVIEW: Vancouver opened the 2012 season with a four-game unbeaten
streak and carried that momentum all the way through to the playoffs,
finishing fifth in a packed Western Conference with 43 points, but fell to the
Galaxy in the knockout round of the postseason.
ACQUISITIONS: Paulo Jr. (M/F), Brad Rusin (D), Kekuta Manneh (F), Daigo
LOSSES: John Thorrington (M), Barry Robson (M), Atiba Harris (F), Michael
Nanchoff (M), Martin Bonjour (D).
OUTLOOK: If Mattocks can build upon last season and continue his rise to
stardom, Vancouver should sneak into the postseason in a very difficult
Western Conference. Camilo and Salgado will need to help the Jamaican with the
scoring load, or Vancouver could easily miss the postseason party. Fifth place
in the West is an achievable target for Martin Rennie's side.
The Sports Network