In Nigel we must… keep him on the field…..
No one is arguing that the passion, leadership and intensity that Reo-Coker has brought to the Vancouver Whitecaps this season is nothing but positive for the club. His mentorship of Russell Teibert has brought his playing level to that where even Martin Rennie doesn’t mind starting a Canadian (even though technically Alain Rochat’s birth certificate makes him one) in a meaningful game. He only trails Andy O’Brien in total minutes in all competitions this season. He has worn the captain’s armband every game he has played in since game three against the Houston Dynamo. Remember when DeMerit went down and Rennie said he would rotate the armband around a few players? Well that lasted only one game with Kenny Miller getting the band for game two.
But one big dilemma remains… Reo-Coker is collecting yellow cards at an equivalent rate as Eric Hassli did back in 2011.
Taking into account the first 11 MLS games of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons, let’s compare the numbers:
Eric Hassli: 11GP, 5 yellow cards, 2 red cards and suspended 2 games, finished season with 8 yellow cards.
Whitecaps: 11GP, 26 yellow cards, 3 red cards
Yellows per game: 4 yellows – 1 game, 3 yellows – 5 games, 2 yellows – 2 games, 1 yellow – 2 games, 0 yellows – 1 game.
The only game where the Whitecaps did not pick up a yellow card was April 2, 2011 against Sporting KC.
Eric Hassli: 11GP, 4 yellow cards, 0 red card, finished season with 6 yellow cards before being traded.
Whitecaps: 11GP, 22 yellow cards, 0 reds.
Yellows per game: 4 yellows – 1 game, 3 yellows – 1 game, 2 yellows – 5 games, 1 yellow – 4 games, 0 yellows – 0 games.
The Whitecaps first game of the season without a yellow card was game #32 against Chivas USA on October 3, 2012.
Nigel Reo-Coker: 11GP, 5 yellow cards, 0 red cards (on pace for 14 yellows this season).
Whitecaps: 11GP, 11 yellow cards, 0 red cards.
Yellows per game: 2 yellows – 3 games, 1 yellow – 5 games, 0 yellows – 3 games.
The Whitecaps have been yellow carded less 3 times in the first 11 games this season.
In The End
As a team the Whitecaps have been extremely disciplined compared to their first two seasons in the MLS. The only other players that have more than one yellow card so fat this season are Teibert and Gershon Koffie.
With the emergence of Teibert this season and his new style and pace of play I will take the yellow cards. If he scores 2 goals in a game he can celebrate however he likes unless he already has a yellow before he scores.
Not having Nigel in the lineup against the New York Red Bulls is going to be a huge hit for the Caps. Hopefully Daigo Kobayashi can make a full recovery and play some meaningful minutes. Vancouver needs an offensive midfielder in the games moving forward. No more sitting back and playing for draws. They can’t be putting Jun Marques Davidson in those positions when the Whitecaps need to push the ball forward.
On a glass half-full way of looking at this situation, this could help Reo-Coker moving forward. The next season game he is eligible for is June 8 against the Seattle Sounders. Coming over from England where the travel is far less demanding than it is here in North America. The mileage he has accumulated so far this season might be the same amount he traveled in 3-4 years in England. He has time to rest his body, one less cross-country trip and more time to lead on the pitch during training. Sure we will all miss his leadership on the field but maybe a player like Andy O’Brien, or even Kenny Miller if he makes his return can step up and wear the captains band against the Red Bulls.
So Nigel, please don’t stop playing your game. Don’t stop attacking and demanding the ball and taking it when you want it…
Just no more yellow cards!