Jun Marques Davidson - Photo by Bob Frid
Bob Frid

Davidson quietly wins back starting spot

VANCOUVER, BC – While much has been written about the new faces among the Vancouver Whitecaps FC squad, and Kenny Miller’s bounce back to form, Jun Marques Davidson has quietly won back his place in the starting XI.

The Japanese-American isn’t going to make it on to many MLS fantasy squads – and he certainly isn’t going to be a part of many highlights reels, but what Davidson does bring is defensive awareness in one of the most crucial spots on the field – right in front of the back four.

Head coach Martin Rennie brought Davidson in last season having worked with him previously with the Carolina RailHawks, and the defensive midfielder was immediately a starting member of a group that started the 2012 season strongly.

But as last season wore on and the club went into a late season tailspin, Rennie made several changes to his starting group in a bid to get his team out of its rut. Davidson was one of the casualties and was left out of the lineup for the team’s final six games of the season and did not figure in the club’s first-round playoff defeat to the LA Galaxy.

“As a player, to be honest, it’s very tough, especially when we were going to the playoffs,” Davidson told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday after a training session at the University of British Columbia when asked about falling out of favour. “It’s a big stage as a player, and playing in MLS, you always want to play on a big stage…I was disappointed, but as soon as I found out I was on the bench or not starting, you just have to support the team, and when I have a chance to get in, do my best.”

Rennie explained his decision to drop Davidson was not one he made lightly last season, but given the team’s struggles, changes simply needed to be made.

“It was hard, because he wasn’t playing badly,” Rennie said of that move. “We were just trying to find a combination, and at the end we had some good results and we kind of stuck with that for the last few games. But Marques has always done well so it wasn’t anything against him, it was just about finding a combination that worked.”

But without the pressures of that slide, Rennie has gone back to Davidson, who has successfully rebounded and earned back his place in the starting XI two games into the 2013 campaign.

The 29-year-old is the deepest lying midfielder in a sort of 4-3-3 the ‘Caps have deployed, sitting in front of the back four and just behind the more conventional central midfield pairing of Nigel Reo-Coker and Gershon Koffie.

Rennie is pleased with how the three have linked up so far, and having a defense-first man like Davidson in midfield allows the team’s attacking players, as well as the team’s fullbacks, to push forward knowing they have cover should the opposing team counter quickly.

“He covers the spaces that are left and allows those guys to be more forward thinking and attack more,” Rennie said. “I’ve worked with him for a long time. I really like him and rate him really highly, and I’m really pleased that he’s started the season so well.”