The Vancouver Whitecaps thought they found the right formula in 2017 but fell short of their MLS Cup aspirations. This year, it’s about building around an already solid squad and addressing areas of weakness to take the next step.
Head coach: Carl Robinson
2017 regular season: 15-12-7, 52 points; No. 3 West
Postseason: Lost to Seattle in conference semifinal
Numerous Vancouver players enjoyed bounce-back seasons and newcomers shined, helping the Vancouver Whitecaps make club history by qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals and winning their first playoff match. The club finished one point behind Western Conference leader Portland, a 13-point improvement from 2016. Cristian Techera, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Yordy Reyna, Fredy Montero and Alphonso Davies were among the club’s big contributors. The team, however, fell short of a run to the MLS Cup.
Playoff exit: Reyna and Techera were hobbled by injuries during the MLS playoffs and no one could step in to help generate more goal-scoring opportunities against Seattle. The flaw exposed during the conference semifinal round set the tone for what would become an active offseason for Vancouver.
Address those flaws and get back to the playoffs.
“If you’re honest enough and you go back to the drawing board and you try to get better in certain areas, and we will, then we’ll be better in the long run,” coach Carl Robinson told MLSSoccer.com after the club’s playoff loss.
Season opener: March 4 vs. Montreal, 6 p.m.
Vancouver made one of the highest profile MLS moves in December. The Whitecaps acquired two-time MLS All-Star Kei Kamara from the New England Revolution by giving up their 2019 natural first round SuperDraft pick and a conditional 2020 second round SuperDraft selection. He joins Venezuelan striker Anthony Blondell, and together they ‘re expected to give the Whitecaps an immediate scoring punch.
Signings – F Anthony Blondell (transfer from Venezuelan side Monagas SC, first right of refusal acquired from FC Dallas for $50,000 in General Allocation Money); M David Norman Jr. (homegrown); F Myer Bevan (USL).
Trades – D Deklan Wynne traded to Colorado for $100,000 in 2018 Targeted Allocation Money; Acquired GK Brian Rowe from L.A. Galaxy in exchange for a second-round pick in 2018 SuperDraft; Acquired F Kei Kamara from New England in exchange for 2019 natural first round SuperDraft pick and conditional 2020 second round SuperDraft selection. Revolution will receive Vancouver’s 2020 natural first-round SuperDraft pick if Kamara is re-assigned to another MLS team prior to the 2018 roster freeze date. If Vancouver permanently transfers Kamara outside of MLS prior to the 2018 roster freeze, the clubs will evenly split transfer proceeds.
Re-signed – M Russell Teibert.
Contract option declined – GK David Ousted (MLS rights later traded to D.C. United for natural 2018 second round SuperDraft pick, Whitecaps receive $100,000 in General Allocation Money if he’s traded to another MLS team prior to 2018 roster freeze and 50 percent of any future transfer fees); D David Edgar, D Cole Seiler, D Sheanon Williams, M Christian Bolaños, M Marco Bustos, M Nosa Igiebor, M Matias Laba, M Ben McKendry, M Mauro Rosales, F Kyle Greig.
Other – D Sam Adekugbe (transferred to Valerenga, Whitecaps will receive a percentage of any future transfer fees); GK Spencer Richey (loaned to USL side FC Cincinnati through December 31, 2018); D Doneil Henry (acquired via MLS allocation process).