The Vancouver Whitecaps completed their first preseason trip to Arizona as a MLS club with another victory over a club still alive in the CCL. They defeated the Columbus Crew 2-1 with tallies from Atiba Harris and 1st pick Omar Salgado and missed making it a two goal victory when Davide Chiumiento’s missed penalty. They opened the trip with a 2-1 decision against Real Salt Lake who will be the Crew’s opponent in the CCL quarterfinal. Sandwiched between those victories was a competitive 1-0 loss to Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders.
What was learned from this trip to the desert about the Whitecaps and the team that has been assembled? As reported by the many tweets of the Province’s Marc Weber, the Whitecaps will not be a passive team and will attack the goal. This has been proven in the games despite not possessing any quality strikers in their line-up, this according to many stateside pundits. It seems that this attack will flow through super skilled Swiss player Davide Chiumiento as he has been involved in the majority of chances being created. His inspired play, so far in the preseason, has removed doubts from fans of his ability to play the MLS style. Chiumiento has shown a great ability to feed speedsters like Salinas, Teibert, Khalfan and Harris as they all have the ability to attack the goal from the wings. All the Caps need now is to show more consistency when attacking in order to convert those chances into goals.
The defense sounds like it will be very hard to beat as they allowed one goal per game and that was done while missing their two potential starters at center back as both Demerit and Akloul are still recovering from injuries. In fact when the first unit backline was on the field goalkeeper Jay Nolly was rarely tested in the net. The Whitecaps are very solid at the fullback position with the combination of Rochat, Knight and Leathers. The coaching staff seemed to be very pleased with draft picks and rookie defenders Duckett, Brovsky and Boxall. What has been and will be a major help to the backline is the combination of Terry Dunfield and Gershon Koffie in the midfield. Both are continuing their tenacious tackling that was on display at the end of last season in Division 2 play.
Off the pitch there was very little confirmed news for the Whitecaps. Since they left for their trip to Arizona there hasn’t been any players signed or any released from the group that left Vancouver ten days ago. During their time in Casa Grande the Whitecaps did bring in a young German trialist but he was released after seeing limited action in the first two games. They have since added Argentina striker Neri Bandiera on trial after he was released from the Columbus Crew. There has been no word on if he will return to Vancouver with the team. A tweet from Whitecap player Wes Knight started buzz about the team adding a player or two to the roster and it was confirmed in an interview with Bob Lenarduzzi by Metro Vancouver. Of course Lenarduzzi would not give any hints as to who those players were or when the transactions would be complete. Pavco has also confirmed that BC Place will be ready by the end of September but the Whitecaps will not be the first team to play in the rebuilt stadium.
In my opinion the Whitecaps had a successful initial preseason trip to Arizona with their two victories coming against teams that are attempting to get ready for a Champions League match. What makes it even more impressive is that the victories came with significant veterans missing with injuries and without proven finishers upfront. The Whitecaps will train at Empire until they return to Arizona later in this month and face Chivas USA in their next preseason match on the 18th. In between we should see more players signed to the MLS roster and some players released from camp.