VANCOUVER, BC – The first third of the 2014 Major League Soccer season is just about in the books for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who have a much-deserved bye this weekend.
After 10 matches, Whitecaps FC sit fourth in the always-competitive Western Conference thanks to a 4W-2L-4D start. Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind Vancouver’s first 10 matches of the season.
Sometimes, defensive midfielders fly under the radar and only get noticed when they make a mistake. That’s just the nature of the position.
But after 10 games this season, Matias Laba has disproved that theory. It’s easy to see why Laba is a Young Designated Player and why Toronto FC did everything in their power to keep him.
The 22-year-old Argentine has been an absolute force for Whitecaps FC in midfield. He leads the league with 51 tackles, and astonishingly, he’s won 46 of those tackles (also the highest in the league). That’s a 90.2 per cent success rate.
Despite being involved in that many tackles, Laba has only committed 15 fouls (one less than he’s won), which isn’t even among the top 30 in the league.
As ‘Caps head coach Carl Robinson noted earlier in the season, Laba does all the dirty work for Whitecaps FC. And he does it quite well.
In an interview with TEAM 1040 last month, Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi said that Andy O’Brien has been one of Vancouver’s “feel-good stories” this season.
After a hamstring injury limited him to just 16 appearances (and only three in the team’s last 21 matches) in 2013, O’Brien came into camp 10 pounds lighter this season and has been a fixture at the centre of the back line.
Not only has the 34-year-old centre back started each of Whitecaps FC’s 10 league matches, he also leads the team with 72 clearances – tied for eighth best in the league.
That’s only a portion of what O’Brien offers, as he also plays an important part in organizing the back line and providing leadership to a relatively young ‘Caps side.
He even got an assist this season – his first point in MLS.
Eight different players have scored goals for Whitecaps FC this season – no team has more goalscorers in all of MLS. That’s what you call depth.
Chilean midfielder Pedro Morales, who also has a team-high 20 chances created, and second-year winger Kekuta Manneh are leading the way for the Blue and White with three goals apiece (or four if you include Amway Canadian Championship competition).
Jamaican striker Darrren Mattocks has been another early standout with two goals and a team-high three assists, but the ‘Caps have received contributions from several different players.
Though they aren’t often recognized, fullbacks Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey have also played important roles in Vancouver’s early success. Harvey has a goal, but perhaps more notably, he’s second in the league among defenders with 98 passes into the final third.
Beitashour, meanwhile, has a pair of assists. Aside from Laba, no Whitecaps FC player has had more touches than the two fullbacks this season.
With 16 points from the first 10 matches, Whitecaps FC (4W-2L-4D) are off to their second best start since joining MLS. That’s just one point shy of their total from 2012, the only year they have qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs thus far.
There’s a lot to like about the way things have gone for the Blue and White thus far. They went unbeaten in their first four matches and are now unbeaten in their last four. In between, they suffered their only two losses of the season – one to Colorado Rapids with 10 men and the other to LA Galaxy on the road. Only one team in the league has fewer losses this season.
It’s an impressive start in itself, but even more so considering Whitecaps FC came into the season with a brand new coaching staff and several new players. They’re only just rounding into form.
Statistics courtesy of Opta Sports – as of Friday, May 16.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.