Sunday, January 16, 2011

Who Needs Nagbe? Not the Whitecaps.

Within moments of the completion of the first two picks of the 2011 SuperDraft, all the MLS draft experts weighed in with their opinion.  How could the Whitecaps take a young player like Salgado and not draft a player who is ready to step into your lineup immediately?  Even after Nagbe admitted to having a preference to playing in the United States, ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas continued to state that he  couldn’t believe the Caps didn’t draft the Akron product.

Earlier in the week at the combine, Whitecaps manager Teitur Thordarson commented to reporters that he didn’t expect any of the players in the draft to start immediately and would not put pressure for any young player to carry the expansion franchise.  Although not signed as of yet to MLS contracts, the Whitecaps have three players in their camp that could potentially play the same position that Nagbe plays as a withdrawn striker.

Swiss international Davide Chiumiento was signed during the summer of 2010 from Lucerne of the Swiss Super League on a free transfer.  The former Juventus academy product, while primarily having played as a winger or attacking midfielder, came to Vancouver with the desire to play the second striker position.  He did not see much success in the few games he played in the fall but lack of conditioning and chemistry was a main reason for that.  While not having a top gear, Dede is quick and has an amazing skillset that allows him to connect with midfielders and distribute the ball forward.  He will be very dangerous as a free kick specialist in set pieces.

While playing a friendly against the Tanzanian national team, the Whitecaps saw a young winger and they couldn’t resist signing him soon after.  Nizar Khalfan, while normally considered a winger, is very capable of playing a central role as well.  In fact, the majority of Khalfan’s starts in the 2010 season were as a striker.  In addition to his creative and playmaking abilities, the 21-year-old has blazing speed and uses it to create distance from his opponents.

Cornelius Stewart is another player who can fill this position as he was Khalfan’s partner for the majority of the season.  The 21-year-old Vincentian striker joined the residency program in 2009, which is an added bonus as he would be considered a homegrown signing and thus wouldn’t count against the salary cap.  Stewart has the ability to fly past opponents, is strong on the ball and is very good at distributing the ball whether it’s putting a through ball going forward or finding trailing midfielders sneaking into the box.

 In no way am I purposing that every one of these player has a better skill set that Nagbe but each one of these player have a distinct advantage over the player who did not want to play in Canada.  They have each spent multiple seasons on a professional team playing a schedule that is more like MLS than the typical NCAA season.  If one takes into account that the winter transfer window is open and the rumors of the Whitecaps bringing in an additional striker or two, the Whitecaps are in a good position to improve their weakest position.

News Links:
--Robbie Savage has been given permission by the Derby County manager to leave the team the Championship side in time for start of the MLS season

--The Vancouver Sun has an article on the two Notre Dame products, drafted in the 2nd and 3rd round and their chances to make the team

-- Omar Salgado has returned home, after a wild ride, to El Paso after being drafted 1st Overall and was met at the airport by family and the El Paso Times (Video Included)

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