Summertime in the soccer world means the transfer window is open and the Vancouver Whitecaps have a chance to improve their squad.
However, unlike other leagues, the summer transfer window for MLS opens on July 5 and runs until August 2. During the window, MLS clubs may request the International Transfer Certificate (Or ITC) of a player under contract in another country. Basically, the Whitecaps can sign a player under contract from Europe for example, until August 2.
The Whitecaps found themselves needing to go back to the drawing board on Saturday as they lost 3-0 to Sporting Kansas City. They did not look like the team that beat LAFC 3-0 the week before. The two performances were night and day.
“I think it’s very humbling after the fantastic performance that we did last week,” said Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini after the loss. “If we get away from the plan, every game becomes insurmountable for us. If we stick to the plan … every game can be a winning game.”
If the plan works, the Whitecaps look like a well-oiled machine. If it doesn’t, they look like a car with a blown tire.
Vancouver sits ninth in the Western Conference with 25 points which is the final spot for the play-in round. However, top four is still in reach as they are only five points behind fourth-place Real Salt Lake.
With the squad the Whitecaps have, they should be pushing for a top-four spot.
What do the Whitecaps need?
This author has mentioned on this website that the Whitecaps need another centre-back.
The last game against Sporting Kansas City showed that Mathias Laborda is more suited for a back three formation than a back four. He and the other Whitecaps defenders looked lost in that game.
It also shows how much they rely on the duo of Ranko Veselinović and Tristan Blackmon a lot. Blackmon has been out over the past week due to a right heel contusion and his status for Saturday’s match against the Seattle Sounder is to be determined later this week. They missed him against Sporting Kansas City
Laborda has been deployed as a right-back for the majority of the season. I was skeptical about him being there but it has worked. The Uruguayan defender has displayed good ball movement and crosses and looked more comfortable on the right side while defending. In a CB role in a back four, he isn’t winning aerial duels and is often caught out of position.
With these factors in mind and the fact that Karifa Yao is not getting game time, ideally, the Whitecaps would need a left-footed centre-back that is also good in the air. Who would that be? I’m not sure.
The Whitecaps also need to find a way to extend The Delivery Man, Julian Gressel. He has been among the MLS’ best in crosses and passes and we all know how painful it would be for the Whitecaps to lose him on a free.
Not much has been said on Gressel’s contract since Whitecaps CEO and Sporting Director Axel Schuster spoke to Har Johal of Daily Hive about it in late April.
Veselinović has developed into a quality CB for the Whitecaps and he too needs a new contract at the end of the season. Tom Bogert of The Athletic reported that talks with the Serbian defender are happening a few weeks ago. That’s a good sign.
The Whitecaps have a lot of depth in the midfield and forward position so defensive depth is where they need to go. Though, I think the defender they should look for should be first-team quality.
Could anyone be on their way out?
The summer transfer window also means outgoings. The Whitecaps would ideally like to keep the squad they have but some offers could be tempting.
Bogert also reported a few weeks ago that Javain Brown has gotten interest from Belgian clubs and the Whitecaps want a multimillion-dollar fee.
Letting Brown go wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. Laborda and Ryan Raposo would get more minutes at the right-back position. Plus, the Whitecaps could potentially use the money gotten for Brown for a centre-back.
I don’t see anyone of note leaving the upcoming window, other than the rumoured Brown. If I had to pick, it would be Deiber Caicedo. Now, I am not reporting anything here and have no inside information. But I have this feeling that Caicedo could leave the Whitecaps in the upcoming window or in the winter.
He has recovered from last season’s injury and has had enough time to get back into game shape. However, he isn’t playing as much. Caicedo only has 12 appearances in MLS this season and all have been off the bench Sure, the rise of Pedro Vite has something to do with it. But it does seem like Caicedo’s time with the Whitecaps could be coming to an end.
I could be wrong, however.
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter what the Whitecaps should do in the transfer window!