MLS

Vancouver Whitecaps

Conference: WesternHead Coach: Martin Rennie
2012: 11-13-10 (5th in West)
Home Record8-3-6
Away Record3-10-4
Goals For35 (17th)
Goals Against41 (T-4th)

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.

Season Outlook

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.

WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: F Tommy Heinemann (Signing), F Corey Hertzog (Signing), M Daigo Kobayashi (Signing), D Johnny Leverón (Signing), F Paulo Jr. (Re-Entry Draft), D Brad Rusin (Transfer), D/M Nigel Reo-Coker (Right of refusal from Portland).
Subtractions: F Etienne Barbara (Option declined), D Martín Bonjour (Waived), M/F Atiba Harris (Trade - Colorado), M Michael Nanchoff (Trade - Portland), M Kevin Porter (Trade - D.C.), M Barry Robson (Contract terminated), GK Brian Sylvestre (Option declined), M John Thorrington (Option declined), M Tiago Ulisses (Option declined)
Superdraft: F Kekuta Manneh (1-4), F Erik Hurtado (1-5).

Looking Ahead

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.

Projected Sarting XI

FORWARD

Darren Mattocks
Striker

MIDFIELD

Camilo Kenny Miller Daigo Kobayashi
Attacking Midfield Attacking Midfield Attacking Midfield
     
Nigel Reo-Coker   Gershon Koffie
Defensive Midfield   Defensive Midfield

DEFENCE

Alain Rochat Jay DeMerit Andy O'Brien Y.P. Lee
Left Back Centre Half Centre Half Right Back

GOALKEEPER

Brad Knighton

Home and Away

One Canadian and One foreign-born player for Whitecaps fans to keep an eye on in the 2013 season.

Russell Teibert - Midfield

There's an important year ahead in the development of young Canadian Russell Teibert. The big question is whether or not he will finally make a breakthrough and become a regular selection in Martin Rennie's first team. The 21-year-old from Niagara Falls, ON, started the year off with a call-up to Canada's Men's National Team for friendlies against Denmark and United States, but he will hope for increased opportunities this year for the Whitecaps either at left back or left side of midfield. Teibert was limited to just four MLS appearances in 2012, and with the talent ahead of him in the 'Caps squad he faces another big challenge to get playing time this year.

Daigo Kobayashi - Midfield

After the loss of Davide Chiumiento to FC Zurich in mid-season, the Whitecaps lacked creativity in the final third of the pitch during the second half of the season. One of the ways Martin Rennie has looked to rectify that is by signing Japanese midfielder Daigo Kobayashi. He has shown in preseason that he has a very high technical ability and great vision going forward. He is a flair player with the potential to excite the fans and isn't afraid to be ambitious in front of goal, as he proved with a spectacular goal against Charleston Battery during preseason.

The Road Ahead

The Caps host Toronto FC in their season opener.

Mar. 2 - 3:30pm pt Toronto FC @ Whitecaps
Key Match-ups
Apr. 6 vs. SJ 7:30pm pt
May 11 vs. LA 4pm pt
Jul. 6 vs SEA 8pm pt
Sep. 21 @ MTL 11am pt

Bold Prediction

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."



Podcasts

TSN FC with Luke Wileman, Jason deVos & Kristian Jack - October 21

Luke, Jason & KJ look ahead to the final week of the MLS season, plus break down what went wrong at Toronto FC this year and if the club can recover.

TSN FC with Jason deVos & Kristian Jack - October 14

Kristian Jack and Jason deVos recap the disaster at Toronto FC this season and what needs to change, plus discuss the Whitecaps playoff run.

TSN FC with Luke Wileman, Jason deVos & Kristian Jack - September 30

Luke, Jason and KJ recap a huge weekend for Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps, plus talk Barclay's Premier League and Chelsea's form.


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