The Vancouver Whitecaps enjoyed a hugely successful year in MLS but Carl Robinson’s side unfortunately ran out of steam during the playoffs at the end of the season. It may seem baffling to label their failure to make the Conference Finals as a ‘success’ but the Caps were written off by many ahead of the campaign and their significant progress can be seen as an overachievement, which gives them plenty to build upon ahead of 2018.
The Caps were pipped to the Western Conference title by the Portland Timbers, leaving the Canadian outfit to negotiate their way through the knockout round of the MLS Playoffs. After a long season, this was far from ideal for Robinson’s side and fatigue began to set in. Fredy Montero missed the game against the Timbers on the final day of the regular season and his absence was evident throughout, as a lack of potency in the final third hindered the Caps.
Injuries also prevented them from making a fast start with key midfielder Yordy Reyna missing the first few games of the campaign. However, their consistency soon shone through and they ended the season having been defeated in back-to-back matches on just one occasion.
Vancouver Whitecaps cruised through the knockout stage but were undone by MLS Cup finalists and near-neighbours Seattle Sounders. They also progressed to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Despite an underwhelming couple of performances when it mattered, there were plenty of reasons to be positive and the men from BC Place can now look ahead to the 2018 campaign with optimism.
There is a lack of star quality in the Caps’ starting lineup but Robinson has stressed the importance of hard work, and the players also clearly enjoy one another’s company away from the pitch. There is a team spirit within the camp that appears hard to break and, with a few savvy additions during the off-season, they should exceed expectations once again in 2018.
Robinson’s side must continue their upward momentum and anyone who is thinking of backing them to bounce back and finish top of the Western Conference next season can use one of the many free bets detailed by Oddschecker, including a free £30 from William Hill, who price up over 150 different markets on each MLS game throughout the campaign.
Robinson has told reporters that he expects plenty of changes at the club throughout the off-season, suggesting the team “need to evolve”. David Ousted has already departed the club with the hierarchy deciding not to take up the option to re-sign the 32-year-old goalkeeper. However, Russell Teibert has agreed a new three-year deal to stay on the west coast of Canada until 2020, with the 24-year-old now the Caps’ longest-serving player.
The team will travel to Nevada, California, and Hawaii during the off-season as they prepare for another potentially energy-sapping campaign. Robinson wants to make pre-season as competitive as possible, which should help avoid another sluggish start in March. The Whitecaps are not amongst the favourites for the 2018 MLS Cup but they are a team who relish the chance to over-perform and exceed all expectations. They will once again go into the new campaign amongst the outsiders but there is plenty to build upon and it’ll be tough to write them off.