Get primed for the 2013 MLS season with a look at what might lie ahead for the Vancouver Whitecaps. TSN's Luke Wileman takes you through the off-season adds for the 'Caps and whether that can push them further than 2012's breakthrough. Keep reading for players to watch, a projected starting line-up and Wheeler's prediction for how the Whitecaps will finish this season.
Carry that Weight
Kenny Miller will be looked to to replace fellow Scot Barry Robson.
It was a history-making season for Vancouver Whitecaps last year as they became the first Canadian team to qualify for the MLS Playoffs. However, the fact they limped across the line after a poor finish to the season leaves plenty of room for improvement this year.
The departure of Designated Player Barry Robson during the off-season has removed a big slice of uncertainty heading into the year and with a full preseason under his belt, the Whitecaps will hope for a consistent high level of performance from their other 2012 mid-season Scottish acquisition Kenny Miller.
Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie has strengthened throughout his squad and has plenty of options available for the year ahead. They have experience in the backline which should make them difficult to break down. The area the Whitecaps will look to improve is in attack. Last year there were too many times when they were unable to break the opposition down and they ended the year as one of the lowest scoring teams in the league.
The Whitecaps team this year has been built to be younger, stronger and faster. Martin Rennie has added pieces that have the potential to frighten defences and change games. There is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of 22-year-old Jamaican Darren Mattocks as he heads into his second season as a pro. Mattocks scored seven goals in 21 regular season appearances in his rookie year and is capable of hitting double figures this time around. His speed will now be complemented by the lightening quick pace of SuperDraft picks Kekutah Manneh and Erik Hurtado.
With the help and guidance of Scottish international Kenny Miller and 2011 Team MVP Camilo, there is no reason why the Whitecaps can't greatly improve their goal tally compared to a year ago.
At the other end of the pitch, the 'Caps have a solid backline anchored by the veteran presence of Captain Jay DeMerit and former EPL defender Andy O'Brien in the middle and 2012 Whitecaps MVP Y.P. Lee out wide.
Home and Away
One Canadian and One foreign-born player for Whitecaps fans to keep an eye on in the 2013 season.
Luke Wileman Says: "It will be another close race for the playoffs in the Western Conference and the Whitecaps should be capable of matching last year's fifth placed finish, but with a better record. My prediction: between fourth and sixth in the Western Conference."