With their second win in as many weeks on Friday night against Colorado, the Vancouver Whitecaps cemented their spot above the red playoff line clinching sixth place in the Western Conference.
The match in Commerce City, Colorado also was their ninth in a gruelling 34-game MLS campaign.
With a quarter of the season already in the books, we have seen enough body of work to start identifying those players in the ‘Caps roster who are putting together a exceptional seasons and are strong candidates to win the Whitecaps FC MVP award in October.
Kendall Waston had a marvellous 2015 season, earning him a nomination for MLS Defender of the Year. The dream turned into a nightmare in 2016 as the Towering Tico struggled with disciplinary issues, unbridled aggression, and poor decision making.
However, the gentile Costa Rican giant has returned this season with increased focus that has brought with it the physical dominance, shrewd reading of the game, excellent positioning, controlled aggression, and supremacy in the air that propels him to being considered as one of the best defenders in the league.
And he’s done it all wearing the captain’s armband.
Waston is part of the ‘Caps main core of players that need to be at their best if this team wants to be successful in 2017. So far, so good.
Defender Tim Parker is on his third campaign with the Whitecaps.
After a scintillating rookie season, the 13th overall pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft suffered from an all too common malady that plagues MLS players: the sophomore slump. While the Hicksville, NY native wasn’t horrible in 2016, his performances mirrored that of his team.
After a season-ending injury to David Edgar, the player that was expected to be the starter alongside Kendall Waston in the heart of the Blue and White defensive line, Parker found himself in the spotlight once again this season.
The 2017 version of Parker is better than ever. Balancing his physical potency with better positioning and improved ball distribution has allowed Parker to become one of the first names penciled in on the team sheet every week.
It is difficult to imagine Tim Parker not being part of the US Men’s National Team soon too.
Joining the Blue and White during the 2015 campaign, Cristian Techera quickly became one of (if not the most) influential attacking player on the team by scoring seven goals and adding five assists.
It was a different story in 2016 and the man nicknamed “The Bug” was nowhere near as effective as he had been the previous season. The diminutive Uruguayan finished the year with just two goals and two assists to his name.
Techera returned in 2017 in much better physical shape and that has directly impacted his performances in the early goings of the season. Techera is once again creating chances, blowing by defenders with his fancy feet, and scoring crucial goals for his team.
Fredy Montero arrived in Vancouver late in the pre-season and as such, Montero took a while to get into rhythm and gel with his new teammates. The Colombian Designated Player and all-time leading MLS goal scorer for the Seattle Sounders has scored five goals with the Blue and White so far.
With four goals in nine MLS appearances, Montero is on track to score 17 goals this year. The Whitecaps have not seen a player hit the back of the net that many times since Camilo won the Golden Boot with 22 goals.