thumbnail Hello,

Some have attacked the Vancouver Whitecaps for not playing enough Canadians. That could change this year -- these are the top five Canadians who could help the Whitecaps in 2013.

The Vancouver Whitecaps have come in for criticism from some quarters over their first two years in Major League Soccer for not making enough of an attempt to play Canadians.

They’ve been ripped apart for fielding “loophole Canadian” Alain Rochat, who was born in Quebec but moved to Switzerland when he was two years old, and giving miniscule minutes to young players like Russell Teibert, Bryce Alderson and Caleb Clarke.

Even the club’s attempt to perhaps keep those critics at bay from the offset – signing Vancouver native Terry Dunfield – didn’t even last the full first season, as then director of soccer operations Tom Soehn shipped him off to Toronto FC.

But this year, for the optimist – there’s every chance that Canadians could – finally – play a part in the Whitecaps’ story at the MLS level.

Here’s the top five list of Canadians who could make an impact for the club in 2013.

1)    Russell Teibert: The Niagara Falls native is 20 years old now and has three international caps. It’s time for him to break through to the first team, and if he’s given a chance, his excellent crossing ability from the left will be an asset to a club desperately in need of quality service. The Whitecaps have plenty of players capable of finishing chances, but the delivery has often lacked. Teibert is still raw but that situation will never change unless he’s given an opportunity to make mistakes – and eventually, contribute.

2)    Jacob Lensky: A Vancouver native playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps? What a novel idea! This has been brewing for some time, with head coach Martin Rennie telling on several occasions the club would be interested in signing the player if the situation worked for everyone. Right now the situation seems to be that the parties can’t agree financial terms. Lensky feels like he’s worth the sort of money he was making in Europe, but the Whitecaps are understandably cautious about a player who has walked away from the game twice due to personal reasons. If Lensky can get his head right and accept a pay cut to get his career back on track, even on a one-year deal, he could be a real bargain and creative contributor in midfield.

3)    Jaime Peters: On trial with the Whitecaps after his deal wasn’t renewed with English second-tier outfit Ipswich Town, Peters is here after a trial with Yeovil Town of England’s third tier. The Pickering, Ontario, native's stock isn’t high. In the first week of preseason he appeared to be carrying a few extra pounds, but if he can shape up and find fitness, he has the talent to be a strong MLS player. This could be a bargain situation for the ‘Caps. If they can convince Peters to take a short-term deal at a discount to get his career back on track, this could work for both player and club. If it works out, at age 25, he could be a player that could stick around and grow – right here at home.

4)    Bryce Alderson: He’s only 19, but the Kitchener, Ontario, native is a player many observers hope can eventually become a midfield general for Canada, and Vancouver. Like Teibert, to a certain extent, Alderson’s fate is in the hands of the Whitecaps coaching staff – but unlike his young countryman, central midfield could be a place with a bit more opportunity this year, with the departures of veterans John Thorrington and Barry Robson.

5)    Andres Fresenga: This is Lee Young-Pyo’s final year, and he only agreed to come back under the conditions that he would get to opt out of certain matches. Trialist Fresenga could be the perfect solution. If his Uruguayan club Racing Club de Montevideo allows a loan or even a sale to the Whitecaps, Fresenga could phase into the Whitecaps starting lineup, and learn from Lee. If he’s as good as he looked against Brek Shea during an Olympic qualifier last year, the Toronto native could be a player that could grow with the club in the years to come at right fullback – and perhaps at some point, centre back.