VANCOUVER, BC – In the build-up to Vancouver Whitecaps FC season-opening loss to Montreal Impact, Carl Robinson said Kianz Froese may be the best box-to-box midfielder at the club.
It was a somewhat unexpected declaration, considering the 19-year-old Canadian had been used sparingly in that position in his previous minutes with the first-team. But Robinson stuck by it, suggesting Froese’s development was part of the reason why Gershon Koffie was traded.
That brings us to this past weekend.
After impressing in the preseason, Froese got the start in Vancouver’s season-opener. It was just his second MLS regular season start – and first at BC Place.
And despite the loss, Robinson said Froese “didn’t let himself down.”
Let’s take a closer look.
For starters, Froese had the best passing accuracy on either team at 94.1 per cent. He only missed two passes all night, as you can see below.
That’s a good start.
But Robinson has said that he wants his midfield players to score more goals this year, so Froese – and players in that position – will be judged on their ability to drive the play forward in addition to being responsible with the ball. The Whitecaps FC Residency graduate showed some promise in that regard with a few powerful runs as well as this opportunity from the top of the box.
Froese has grown a lot over the past few years – both on and off the field.
Some of that has to do with situations out of his control. Last year, it was discovered that his father Joe had colon cancer. He was in a coma for five days. It was a tough time.
When Joe got out of the hospital in Cuba, he moved in with Froese in Vancouver.
“For somebody who’s sick, you’re not as comfortable with living in Cuba,” Froese told whitecapsfc.com. “It’s easy to get stressed out. For a guy that’s sick, that’s not necessarily the best for him. And this is home country. I was going to let him stay with me for however long he needed.”
In a somewhat serendipitous moment, Froese ended up scoring his first MLS goal a day before Father’s Day. He dedicated it to his father, but that was always the plan.
Fortunately, Joe is doing much better these days. He has gained nearly 60 pounds since arriving in Vancouver last year. He still has an ostomy bag, but for the most part, he’s cancer free.
Joe was back in Cuba during the offseason, but he is staying with Froese again until his colon is reconnected. The whole situation has taught Froese a lot.
“It gives you a different perspective on life,” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. So enjoy today.”
And that’s what he’s doing.
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