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Western Conference Preview

By Jonathan Szekeres




CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 23: Andy O'Brien #40 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC looks to pass the ball against the Chicago Fire during the second half of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium on February 23, 2013 in Charleston, South Carolina
CHARLESTON, SC - FEBRUARY 23: Andy O'Brien #40 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC looks to pass the ball against the Chicago Fire during the second half of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium on February 23, 2013 in Charleston, South Carolina

2012 record: 11-13-10 (5th in Western Conference, eliminated in knockout round)

Additions: M Daigo Kobayashi (Free Agent), M Nigel Reo-Coker (Discovery rights trade W/ Timbers), D Johnny Leveron (Free Agent), Kekutah Manneh (SuperDraft)

Losses: M Barry Robson, D Martin Bonjour, M John Thorrington, M Atiba Harris.

Overview: They managed a marvelous turn around last season, going from worst to a playoff spot, before bowing out in the knockout stage. Now the club has rid itself of a glaring problem in Barry Robson, shored up the defense with more depth, signed a 28 year old former EPL'er in Nigel Reo Coker, and drafted well, with Kekutah Manneh and Erik Hurtado already looking like gamers. Brad Knighton and Joe Cannon form a formidable duo in net, and Daigo Kobayashi will look to replace the creative spark that left with M Davide Chiumiento. The 'Caps could be a very good team, provided defenders YP Lee and Jay Demerit stay healthy, which will be a challenge. Demerit is already battling an Achilles injury, and the club struggles mightily when their Captain does not play. Lee will be looking for more rest time, meaning depth will be a huge factor for the 'Caps this year. They made a giant leap in their second season; all they need now is another step.

Player to watch: Like you need to ask. Kenny Miller has been a high priced bust so far, but is committed to sticking it out with the club and leaving it all on the pitch this year. If he can become a viable third scoring option, then both Darren Mattocks and Camilo will see plenty more room on the attack.