After losing out to the Sounders in the Western Conference semifinals in 2017, can Vancouver rebound and contend for MLS Cup in 2018?
Carl Robinson had his club rolling again in 2017, leading the club to a third place finish in the Western Conference before losing out to eventual conference champion Seattle in the playoffs.
The 2018 team looks to have added some serious firepower on both ends of the pitch, with Kei Kamara coming in to boost the attack and Doneil Henry brought in to bolster the defense.
Will it be enough for Robinson and the Whitecaps to take the next step and possibly claim their first MLS Cup?
How did the Vancouver Whitecaps perform in 2017?
2017 finish: Third in Western Conference (15-7-12), lost to the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Whitecaps proved to be contenders throughout the 2017 season, finishing third in the West while pushing for the top spot. A hard-fought tie against the eventual Western Conference champion Seattle Sounders ended the club’s run in the playoffs, but the Canadian club will look back on the season largely as a success.
Vancouver’s key offseason losses
Forward Fredy Montero has been signed by Sporting CP this offseason, leaving the club without its leading scorer.
Vancouver will also have to deal with the loss of midfielder Christian Bolanos , who returned to Deportivo Saprissa after having his contract option declined by the Whitecaps.
Goalkeeper David Ousted was traded to D.C. United in exchange for a 2018 MLS SuperDraft selection, though he lost his grip on the starting role with the Whitecaps by the end of 2017.
Vancouver’s key offseason additions
The Whitecaps traded for proven MLS goalscorer Kei Kamara , sending a couple of draft picks to the New England Revolution in exchange for his services in hopes of replacing Montero’s goals.
Vancouver also landed Canadian national team defender Doneil Henry , formerly of West Ham United, through the MLS allocation process.
One of the Whitecaps’ more intriguing pick-ups was Mexican midfielder Efrain Juarez. The former Mexican national team veteran and former Monterrey midfielder should step in and play a key role in Carl Robinson’s setup.
Goalkeeper Brian Rowe , was also brought in from the LA Galaxy in a trade.
Full Vancouver Whitecaps roster entering 2018 season
Goalkeepers: Stefan Marinovic, Spencer Richey, Brian Rowe
Defenders: Marcel de Jong, David Edgar, Doneil Henry, Brett Levis, Aaron Maund, Jake Nerwinski, Tim Parker, Kendall Waston
Midfielders: Marco Bustos, Alphonso Davies, Deybi Flores, Aly Ghazal, Efrain Juarez, Nicolas Mezquida, David Norman Jr., Yordy Reyna, Brek Shea, Tony Tchani, Cristian Techera, Russell Teibert
Forwards: Myer Bevan, Anthony Blondell, Erik Hurtado, Bernie Ibini, Kei Kamara
Vancouver Whitecaps projected starting lineup
The offseason moves give the Timbers some flexibility in a few positions, with Doneil Henry a possibility to start in multiple positions across the back line and players like Nicolas Mezquida and Aly Ghazal available for starting spots in the midfield.
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How the club decides to use Juarez could also go a long way in determining the starting side, and Robinson has always been a manager found of using all the tools at his disposal.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ national TV coverage
The Whitecaps have no matches scheduled to show on U.S. national television broadcasts, but will have 30 of their 34 matches broadcast on TSN in Canada.