It has been a season to forget for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Last in the Western Conference with just 27 points from 30 games, the ‘Caps were the second club to be eliminated from the MLS Cup picture after expansion franchise Cincinnati FC.
A new experience for Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos, who before joining the Whitecaps has been successful at every level. “It is new for me,” Dos Santos said. “Not to be in a playoff or fighting for something in September,” Dos Santos added.
Overall, a season to forget then for the Whitecaps. Perhaps with one exception. Peruvian forward Yordy Reyna.
The 25-year-old forward has been exceptional for the Whitecaps this season. In 22 games the native of Chiclayo managed to score seven goals and add two assists. A revelation because head coach Dos Santos might be the first Whitecaps coach to have found a permanent position for Reyna.
After all, placing Reyna in the starting XI is not easy. Not quite a forward, but also not an attacking midfielder. Dos Santos’ predecessor Carl Robinson at times attempted to play Reyna on the flanks. That position, however, does not suit Reyna, neither does playing him just behind a striker.
The solution? Playing Reyna almost like a playmaker in front of two natural strikers. It is a position that allows Reyna to roam to exploit space and time to come up with creative moments in the final third.
“It’s his best position,” Dos Santos said after Vancouver’s win against DC United. “I don’t think he is a No. 10. He could be a second forward, I think in a 4-4-2 with another forward who’s maybe more of a target guy,” Dos Santos added
“We feel that when we play him wide he could help when the game is open at the end of the game, when it’s a little bit more open. But in the beginning we lose him a little,” added Dos Santos.
Interestingly enough, however, Dos Santos did not invent that position for Reyna. It was interims head coach Craig Dalrymple, who first experimented with playing Reyna up front last season. Back then it was in a partnership with Canadian phenome Alphonso Davies that one could see glimpses of Reyna’s ability.
Glimpses that were even more apparent this season. The move to the center of the pitch, however, also comes with a price. Last season Reyna had 11 assists. But without Davies on the pitch, the Peruvian has been asked to do more of the finishing himself.
Seven goals are, in fact, a new career-high for the 25-year-old. “He could improve his finishing,” Dos Santos said after the game against DC United.
That, however, might be a statement born out of frustration. With an xG of 4.6 goals, this season the 25-year-old Peruvian has overperformed in the goalscoring department. In fact, with 0.33 goals per 90 minutes and 6.26 successful attacking actions per 90 minutes, he is Vancouver’s most dangerous forward this season.
With that in mind, it is no surprise that Peru head coach Ricardo Gareca called up Yordy Reyna for the upcoming friendlies against Ecuador and Brazil. For Reyna, it will be the first time he represents his country since March 27, 2019 when he played 77 minutes in Peru’s 2-0 defeat to El Salvador.
A fantastic opportunity for a striker that could be on the market this summer. Reyna earns $713,140 this season and Vancouver have an option to renew his contract. A shoe-in one would think but with everything that has been going on in Vancouver a renewal is anything but a certainty.