Club ambassador Carl Valentine shares four things Vancouver Whitecaps FC fans can be thankful for this Thanksgiving. What are you most thankful for? Let us know in the comment section below!
MAN IN CHARGE
There were some big names mentioned when the coaching position was up for grabs in the offseason. Many would have seen Carl Robinson as a gamble being a first-time head coach – especially considering the events of the offseason.
Robinson’s approach was to hit the situation head on. He brought in top players like Pedro Morales, Matias Laba, and Steven Beitashour, among others, but still made it a priority to give young players a chance to play. He also set out to bring a winning mentality to the club and put an upbeat, exciting team on the field at home and on the road.
At the start of the season, Robbo’s side met all these accomplishments and we looked well on our way. The ‘Caps were scoring goals for fun and getting results on the road. Nobody seemed to have an answer for Vancouver's attack. The only blemish was that they were conceding too many goals – something the coaching staff acknowledged and set out to correct.
Then came the World Cup break. The goals started to dry up and results weren’t always going our way. This was the first big test for Robinson and his coaching staff. They never made excuses, they kept believing in their squad, and helped them through some difficult times.
The last three games are a product of all the work Robinson and his coaching staff have done throughout the season by sticking to their beliefs.
There’s still some work to be done, but I can bet you that nobody wants to play this team if we make the playoffs. And we can be thankful to the man in charge, who happens to be celebrating his birthday on this Thanksgiving Monday.
Two games to go and we control our own destiny to make the playoffs. Nothing is guaranteed, but no matter what happens, we can be thankful for the solid foundation that is now in place.
David Ousted has become one of the best keepers in Major League Soccer this year. Case in point: he’s leading the league in shutouts. He always looked a top shot-stopper and now he has shown he can control the game inside and outside his box.
In our last game against Seattle, for example, he didn’t necessarily have to make any difficult saves but he commanded his area by coming out and collecting crosses or punching them out of danger. He also made a couple key plays by leaving his area and acting as a sweeper to cut out some dangerous plays.
Our defence is another big reason for 11 shutouts this season. Even though they don’t often get recognized, both fullbacks, Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey, have had stellar seasons. And Andy O’Brien has been his steady self throughout the campaign.
But the acquisition of Kendall Waston has given our back line a new look and his play has been instrumental in getting clean sheets in four of the eight games he’s started. Not only has he been a monster in defence, but he’s also been a threat in the attacking end on set pieces. No doubt, we have to be thankful he’s wearing the Blue and White.
We should also be thankful for what has become one of the best midfields in MLS. At the beginning of the season, Matias Laba and Gershon Koffie were so solid as defensive midfielders that it allowed everybody to join the attack, including our fullbacks. Russell Teibert has now been added to the equation with some inspirational performances of late and is quickly becoming a leader of the team.
And, of course, we have our captain Pedro Morales. I cannot write anything that has not been written about him already. But what I can say is that it’s going to be really fun to see what he can do with some rest in the offseason after playing about 15 months straight.
The ‘Caps have found a gem who has already become one of the most exciting players this team has ever seen and we must be very thankful to witness his play firsthand.
Kianz Froese became the latest Homegrown player to make his full MLS debut Friday against Seattle. Robinson had a big decision at halftime of who to bring on in a game we were leading 1-0. He chose Froese and he didn’t disappoint, putting in a very mature performance under difficult conditions.
We have fullbacks Sam Adekugbe and Ethen Sampson knocking on the door, as they’ve shown this year – not to mention fellow Homegrown players like Marco Carducci, Marco Bustos, Bryce Alderson and Caleb Clarke, who’s back in the fold.
As I’ve seen firsthand coaching in the Residency program, there are a number of young players itching to follow in the footsteps of someone like Teibert, who has established himself as an MLS regular after graduating from the Residency program.
We should be thankful that this club is so committed to developing young Canadian players through its Residency program. Building from within is a massive part of any club, and that is not lost on anyone in this organization.
This speaks for itself.
As you can see, we have many things to be thankful for and it goes without saying that we’re so thankful for your constant support!
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