Erice training
Farhan Devji/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Training report: Jon Erice leaves early impression on new teammates

VANCOUVER, BC Jon Erice trained with his new teammates for the first time on Tuesday as Vancouver Whitecaps FC continued the first leg of their 2019 preseason training camp.

Here are some news and notes from the day.

ERICE LEAVES (VERY) EARLY IMPRESSION

It was a light session for the 32-year-old Spaniard, who is being eased into the group after starting all 18 of his appearances for Albacete Balompié during the 2018-19 La Liga 2 campaign, but he certainly didn’t waste any time in leaving an impression.

“He trained for about 20 minutes today, he’s still probably a bit jet-lagged,” said right back Jake Nerwinski. “But he looks like he’s super calm on the ball, he’s a good playmaker. For me, if I’m ever in trouble I know I can just play him the ball and he would get out of it for me.”

Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos said from the beginning that he sees Erice competing for the team’s deepest-lying midfielder position. And he provided some additional insight on Tuesday on what he’s looking for out of the player who assumes that role.  

“When we play in a 4-3-3, and the majority of the time we’re looking to be in that type of a shape, we’re looking for a midfielder that is able to link the back four and the two central midfielders, help the team in the first phase of build-up, and be a player that is very positional in that role,” he said.

“When we look at the characteristics, we feel that he fits what we want. Andy Rose also fits that. It’s important to know that when I’m speaking about a player that fits a position, nobody can think that it’s automatically a given. Both him and Andy have the capacity to fill that role.”

As for Vancouver’s other recent additions, Dos Santos said that Lass Bangoura is expected to arrive in Vancouver on Tuesday night, while Lucas Venuto is slated to join the team in Hawaii.

FELIPE, REYNA EARN NEW DEALS

The ‘Caps were busy again on Tuesday, announcing that midfielders Felipe and Yordy Reyna have both agreed to new contracts with the club. Felipe is now signed through 2020 with a club option for 2021, while Reyna is signed through 2019 with club options for 2020 and 2021.

“We felt it’s two players we wanted to keep and deserved to get an extension,” Dos Santos said. “Extension doesn’t mean the spot is yours and that you own the club. No, far from it. It’s good. They deserve an extension. They have it because we believe they’re part of the future of the club. They’re going to have a lot of competition for their spots, like everybody.”

Felipe and Reyna were among Vancouver’s top chance-creators in 2018.

In his first year with the club, Felipe had seven assists and led the ‘Caps in chances created, touches, successful passes, and successful passes ending in the final third. Reyna, meanwhile, was tied for the team-lead with 11 assists and tied for fourth in all of MLS with 15 big chances created.

And Dos Santos said both players fit the way he wants the ‘Caps to play moving forward.

“Yordy can be a winger on either side, on the left or on the right, and he can play underneath the striker if we need,” Dos Santos said. “Felipe is a player that is more comfortable in a higher position in the midfield, playing in a number eight position between the lines.”

WEEK 2

After working on defensive behaviours and organization in the first week of preseason, including the introduction of a high press, the ‘Caps have shifted their focus to the attack this week.

“We’re working on pushing up, getting together, and right when we win the ball, we’ve got to go,” said Nerwinski, who feels the high-tempo style of play fits his game. “So it’s just kind of working on our formation and how we’re going to attack in the game.”

Rose, for his part, has been “very impressed” by training and the entire set-up with the club so far. The 28-year-old midfielder, who has experience playing in MLS, English Football League One, and the Scottish Premiership, said one of the reasons he joined the club was because of his conversations with Dos Santos about his vision for the team.

And that vision has already been put into practice.  

“It’s just so clear he’s going to be an incredibly successful head coach,” Rose said. “The way in such a short space of time he’s implemented these ideas, there’s already a real understanding within the group. Obviously, the whole roster isn’t here yet. We have to incorporate some other pieces, but already I think guys have a clear understanding of the way we want to play, which this early on is very impressive.”