The 2011 MLS season saw two teams tied for last place across the league, the New England Revolution and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Because of this, I got to thinking about how the off-season has been approached by these two clubs and how they compare so far heading into the 2012 season.
To start, both clubs parted ways with their head coaches, although Vancouver did so before the end of the season, and both hired on new ones. The Caps brought in Martin Rennie who had a fruitful 2011 season coaching the Carolina Railhawks from the NASL. Rennie's playing career was cut short due to injury and led him to obtaining a prestigious coaching degree at the same institute as Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson. Meanwhile, the Revs hired on Jay Heaps, a former player as well with no coaching experience or degree whatsoever.
Rennie, only a year older than Heaps, has so far made over 25 roster moves since taking over for the Whitecaps. Notable additions have been Lee Young-Pyo, a left back from South Korea who has played for PSV, Tottenham Hotspur, and Borussia Dortmund (to name a few), and also made 127 appearances for the South Korea national team.
Rennie also managed to acquire Lee Nguyen, a former US National Team midfielder, through weighted lottery, as well as Argentine defender Martin Bonjour. With a -20 goal difference in 2011, the same as New England, Vancouver clearly made some big moves to address their defensive issues.
The Revs made some defensive additions themselves, bringing in John Lozano from Colombian side America de Cali to pair with AJ Soares. They also acquired Tyler Polak in the 2012 SuperDraft draft to fill a big void at left back, but who most expect will not be plugged into the starting lineup come March 10th. The point here is that, while Lozano seems to be a decent signing for the Revs, his addition compared to Vancouver's additions of Young-Pyo and Bonjour is a bit underwhelming.
Most recently, the Caps were able to acquire Sebastian Le Toux from the Philadelphia Union, adding him to their corps of quality forwards which also includes Atiba Harris, Omar Salgado, Long Tan, Eric Hassli, Camilo Sanvezzo, Etienne Barbara, and the highly-touted rookie Darren Mattocks.
On the other side of the continent, the Revs added 30-year-old Colombian striker Jose Moreno, a journeyman forward with some question-marks surrounding both his injury history and the number of clubs he has been bouncing around at for the past few years. Moreno joins Zack Schilawski as the Revs' only true forwards/strikers.
Both clubs have parted ways with Designated Players from 2011. Mustapha Jarju came to a mutual agreement with the Whitecaps to move on. Meanwhile, Argentine striker Milton Caraglio exited New England (along with Rajko Lekic and Monsef Zerka) surrounded by mystery and lots of unanswered questions.
So, what's the point of all these comparisons you ask? Well, I guess I just wanted show the two clubs' off-seasons thus far to demonstrate how active Vancouver has been to try to assure themselves a decent chance at improving in 2012 while the Revs have done very little to show the fans that they are committed to significantly improving in their 2012 season. Two teams at the bottom, and one clearly making big strides in the off-season to get to the top.
I'm just glad that we only have to play Vancouver once this year. Just saying..