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Vancouver Whitecaps 2016 Season Preview
Posted By: Chris Ransom on 2/22/2016
Octavio Rivero had 10 goals in 2015 and stepped up as a striker. Kekuta Manneh had 7 goals and 6 assists in 2015 as a secondary striker. Japanese goal scorer Masato Kudo joins this roster at forward as well as Blas Perez who can get you 11 goals a season when healthy. Injuries affected the 33-year-old Perez in 2015.
Darren Mattocks only had 3 goals instead of his 6 from 2014, but Mattocks spent a lot of time in Jamaica on the international level outside the United States. Mattocks will return to Canada. It feels like this will be a make or break year for Mattocks and if he is in a contract year, Mattocks could have a comeback season just to get the payday. At the same time, Mattocks may end up having to to move to the wing with Rivera and Manneh both succeeding up front. Erik Hurtado is another forward that Vancouver has as well.
Vancouver will have Rivera, Manneh, Kudo, Perez, Mattocks, and Hurtado at full health. Vancouver is so deep at forward they can move a few of these guys to the wing while brining a few other players off the bench.
Christian Melanos is one player that will play the wing in 2016 at right wing. So the Whitecaps will only need to move one of those forwards to left wing and can keep the other 3 forwards on the bench for depth.
Christian Techara was third on the Whitecaps with 7 goals and and second on the Whitecaps with 5 assists in 2015. Pedro Morales only had 6 goals and 4 assists. Morales only played in 23 games only starting 15 games after playing in 33 games and starting 28 of those games in 2014. Morales went from having 10 goals and 12 assists to 6 goals and 4 assists in 2015. Morales like Mattocks could have a comeback season if healthy.
Vancouver has a lot of depth on defense. You have to be optimistic about the Whitecaps defense moving forward. That's what I said about the Whitecaps defense in my 2015 Season Preview and I feel more confident about this defense in 2016 despite losing two outstanding right backs because Vancouver was 3 deep at right back and still drafted another defender that could play right back for depth.
Left back Jordan Harvey can be a left fullback a defensive midfielder on the left side, and sometimes even act as a left winger if he can get far enough downfield. Having someone like that can be a huge asset at times.
Kendall Watson is a veteran center back. Diego Rodriguez may be no longer on the team. Rookie Tim Parker emerged as a solid starter stepping in when Rodriguez was inactive. Pa-Modu Kah is a solid backup.
Vancouver lost Ethen Sampson and Stephen Beitashour at right back. Christian Dean the third overall pick in the 2014 MLS Super Draft should start at right back. If Dean struggles one guy that could take his job is Cole Seiler who played center back at Georgetown, but may move to right back in the MLS after the Whitecaps took Seiler sixteenth overall in the 2016 MLS Super Draft.
David Ousted had 96 saves in 2014 and improved with 99 saves in 2015. Ousted's 99 saves on 137 shots was impressive. Ousted could have another strong year in 2016 and he should reach 100 saves this year.
Prediction: The Vancouver Whitecaps exceeded my expectations of being a top 4 team in 2015. What wasw even more impressive is they did it without Mattocks or Hurtado plus Pedro Morales dealt with injuries. The Whitecaps are as deep as forward in 2016 as they were on defense in 2015. The Whitecaps are easily my early favorite to win the Western Conference in 2016. We'll see if F.C. Dallas or the Portland Timbers can top Vancouver when I make their season previews, but right now Vancouver is my favorite among the Western Conference teams so far.
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