The boys are back. Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to training this week at the National Soccer Development Centre, officially kicking off their 2018 preseason camp. Throughout the week, whitecapsfc.com has been looking at the storylines to watch as the ‘Caps prepare for March 4.
Most of the talk surrounding Vancouver Whitecaps FC early this preseason has been around the new faces in camp – and rightfully so. There are a lot of them, including some potentially key pieces for the club moving forward.
Naturally, those will be the players many supporters keep an eye on.
However, there’s also a group of players that joined Whitecaps FC in 2017 who are taking part in their first full preseason with the club – the likes of Aly Ghazal, Bernie Ibini, Stefan Marinovic, and Yordy Reyna. These players each made significant contributions down the stretch last season.
Ghazal poured his heart and soul into the team, playing the full 90 minutes in all 10 of his appearances. The 6-foot-2 Egyptian recorded a total of 30 tackles, which was second to only Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Cristian Roldan during the same timeframe.
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Ibini showed some promise as well, starting and scoring away at FC Dallas and recording a pair of assists in a 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake.
Marinovic won the starting job and impressed with a number of highlight saves, most notably an acrobatic diving stop in a seven save, clean sheet performance away at Sporting Kansas City. The New Zealand international also impressed in a two-leg World Cup playoff vs. Peru in November.
And finally, Reyna was arguably Vancouver’s most valuable player in the second half of the regular season, recording six goals (including five game-winners) and four assists in just 11 starts. With Reyna in the starting lineup, the ‘Caps averaged 1.90 goals per game – only Toronto FC and Atlanta United FC averaged more over the course of the full season.
As we’ve seen time and time again over the last number of years, it’s not easy coming into a new team and league midseason. For some players, it can take several months to adjust.
With that in mind, the hope is that each of these players can hit the ground running in 2018.
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