It’s been a difficult season for first-year Vancouver Whitecaps FC manager Marc Dos Santos.
Tasked with rebuilding a broken team, Dos Santos’ job was not easy. The roster needed to be overhauled, and overhaul he did – and then some.
Alphonso Davies was already on the way out, transferred to Bayern Munich before his arrival. Realistically, team captain Kendall Waston had already closed the door on Vancouver by the time Dos Santos arrived as well.
Their top two goal-scorers, Kei Kamara and Cristian Techera, were also not brought back.
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It was expected that the Whitecaps would have an adjustment period.
Dos Santos brought in 15 fresh new faces, looking to build a foundation for the future, however the Whitecaps never got off on the right foot – going winless (0-4-2) to start the season.
To say the Whitecaps have been poor would be an understatement. The Whitecaps have the fewest wins in MLS this season and have tallied just 20 points, from a 4-9-8 record. Their -12 goal differential is the worst in the Western Conference.
Mired in an three-match MLS losing streak, Vancouver has been outscored 10-1 in losses to Seattle, Los Angeles FC, and most recently a 3-0 defeat to Sporting Kansas City at home on July 13.
Vancouver is currently winless in seven matches across all competitions.
This is the furthest along in the season that the Whitecaps have sat at the bottom of the Western Conference since their 2011 MLS expansion season. In that inaugural campaign, Vancouver never got out of a rut that saw them go winless for 13 matches.
A 3-1-1 stretch from April 17 to May 10 showed progress for a team still learning to play with each other, but it was not sustainable. You now have to go back to May 25 for the Whitecaps’ last win.
MLS leading goal-scorer Carlos Vela has scored 17 goals from open play, nearly as many as the entire Whitecaps team has this season (18 goals from open play).
Colombian striker Fredy Montero leads Vancouver with just six goals (four via penalties). That’s a far cry from 2017, when Montero scored 13 goals during his first stint with the Whitecaps.
Though he said he expected the team would “suffer” a little as a rebuilding club, Dos Santos admitted some fault during a radio interview with TSN 1040 this week.
“Maybe that was a mistake,” Dos Santos said regarding bringing in so many new players. “There was a lot of changes in the beginning of the year with a lot of players that came in for their first year in the league. Now we have to make sure that the next signings are right. That the next signings have an impact.”
The road has been tough for the Whitecaps who sport a 1-5-4 record away from BC Place. Vancouver will play six of its next eight MLS matches away from home, beginning tonight at Gillette Stadium against the New England Revolution.
It won’t get any easier for the Whitecaps in Foxboro. Ali Adnan, the club’s best player, will miss the match due to a suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Growing pains were expected, but not this far into the season. The quality on the pitch hasn’t been good enough to compete with the top teams. If the Whitecaps want to salvage the season, the MLS transfer window could provide an opportunity to bring in new talent. Vancouver have until August 8 to try to make a splash on the transfer market.