Sports Soccer

Whitecaps kick off uncertain season

By Tyler Green, 24 hours Vancouver, soccer columnist

Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson.

Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

Vancouver Whitecaps FC begins the 2014 Major League Soccer season on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls. With that match, the ‘Caps hope to erase a disastrous off-season, but will the season actually go well?

On Soccer Talk on AM650 this past weekend, I said I thought Vancouver would be able to do enough to make the MLS post-season. However, after re-examining this topic, I’m not entirely sure they will.

In 2013, Vancouver failed to make the post-season after a horrible second half, which included the MLS golden boot winner on the squad. The ‘Caps have now lost that goal-scorer and while they have added some pieces, have they improved enough in the western conference to make a playoff run?

In addition to losing their major goal-scorer, Vancouver also lost most of the coaching staff, back-up goalkeepers and Y.P. Lee, a World Cup veteran.

What the Whitecaps have gained is Carl Robinson, who comes with a new philosophy along with debuting as a head coach, and a lot of question marks about possibilities and potential.

In Robinson, the Whitecaps have a coach that the players like and speak highly of, but can he transition from assistant to top boss? The Rose City Invitational tournament suggests the Whitecaps have bought in, but pre-season differs greatly from the regular season, and that’s what truly counts.

Former Canadian international Carlos Corazzin once told me, “It’s easy to make a bad team good, but difficult to keep them there.”

That is Robinson’s biggest task, turning the Whitecaps around, and keeping them in the playoff hunt.

Vancouver didn’t replace Camilo with a proven goal-scorer, but they have created some excitement in the midfield and infused some potential. With the addition of two Uruguayans in Sebastian Fernandez and Nicolas Mezquida, plus Argentinian Matías Laba, the ‘Caps added some much-anticipated South American flare.

In Laba, the Whitecaps have a player that many in MLS circles consider a top player in the future, while both Fernandez and Mezquida are loaded with potential. The ‘Caps have also added a playmaking right back in Steven Beitashour to replace Lee.

With the additions, there’s potential, but can they be difference makers?

Regardless of the 2014 outcome, in pre-season one thing looks certain — the Whitecaps will continue the tradition of entertaining fans and creating drama. Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tyler hosts SOCCER TALK on AM650 Radio, heard Saturday nights at 10 p.m. to midnight. Follow Tyler online at and on twitter @tylergreenFC.

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