Nigel Reo-Coker has played 45 meaningful minutes in a Whitecaps jersey. 45 minutes is all it took for people in Vancouver to embrace him and his playing and leadership style.
When Reo-Coker came on in the 45 minute mark against TFC, people didn’t know what to expect. Would he step in and be nervous, make poor passes and over think the game? Or would he come in for his team in the midfield and control the game?
We saw a player that knows how to play the game and make the game his own. He was very involved in the Whitecaps’ control of possession in the midfield by making nice, crisp passes and not wasting time dribbling around. This is the reason I am a huge FC Barca fan. I am not saying the Caps are even close to being on Barcelon’s level of ball possession and ball control. Although, you will never see a Barca player in the midfield hold the ball for more then 5 seconds. They make short, simple passes and make sure they will never lose the ball. I see Reo-Coker bringing that style into the Whitecaps midfield.
Last year the Whitecaps were down right horrible in the final ten minutes and added time of way too many games. How many points did we leave on the field the second half of last season? Way too many!!
I was really impressed with Reo-Coker telling the players on the pitch to get the ball on the outside and not waste the possession by dribbling through the middle in the final seven minutes against Toronto FC. By utilizing the outside players like Erik Hurtado and Kekuta Manneh, the Caps will excel this season. With tired TFC defenders, Hurtado was able to take the ball from the wing to the middle of the pitch and create scoring chances. TFC was not able to get any sort of attack going where they could have scored a last minute, game tying goal. A story we saw way too much last season. There is no reason with Coker, Koffie and Kobayashi, that we can’t be the team that controls the middle of the pitch for a full 90. If we can cut our last minute goals against down to half of that we let in last season, that adds up to an additional 8-12 points in the standings for us. An extra 12 points last year and we are pushing the Sounders for the 3rd place position in the West.
I know this is only game #1 for Nigel Reo-Coker and the MLS is a marathon, not a sprint. From what I have seen, Reo-Coker will be a dominate player in the MLS for years to come if he keeps up the pace he showed against TFC.
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