Carl Robinson and the Vancouver Whitecaps have made multiple signings in the last year. From shaking things up in attack with Fredy Montero and Yordy Reyna to bringing in players like Aly Ghazal, they have shown their intent on winning.
While Reyna and Montero have undoubtedly imposed themselves on MLS defenses, Ghazal deserves recognition for the work he has done since arriving. In what was an abyss the Whitecaps were staring into without Matias Laba, Ghazal has shown a light on the midfield.
Aly Ghazal, the Midfielder the Vancouver Whitecaps Need
Of all the signings the Whitecaps have made in the last year, Ghazal might very well be one of the most impactful. It’s hard to argue against the importance of Reyna and Montero, but Ghazal has shown he is exactly what the Whitecaps have needed in the middle of the field.
A Blessing to Others
The first and arguably the most important thing Ghazal offers to Vancouver is the comfort and freedom he allows his teammates. His constant movement, obvious soccer intelligence and his constant nagging pressure he puts on opponents constantly puts others on the back foot.
This isn’t only something that any team would appreciate, but more importantly the Whitecaps and his fellow midfielders.
For instance, Tony Tchani has benefited from his presence and play style. Before the emergence of Ghazal, Tchani looked slightly under pressure. Almost as if he was trying to cover for the loss of Laba. This is no longer the case.
Tchani has realized what he has beside him, and it has allowed him the freedom to play like he is capable. This has turned into a formidable duo in stopping opposing attacks, and will be a key component in any playoff run the Whitecaps will experience.
Tchani isn’t the only one benefiting. All of Vancouver is.
The most underrated aspect of Tchani is his ability to impose his will without being noticed. His positioning defensively is top notch, he is strong in possession, and his constant pressure brings an ominous presence to the midfield of Vancouver.
As stated multiple times, the lost presence of Laba has been filled fantastically by Ghazal. It’s not only his 6’2″, 195-pound frame that allows him to play physically, but his mentality and style.
Having a defensive midfielder with the intelligence, positional awareness and tackling ability of Ghazal has brought an air of intimidation back to the midfield in Vancouver. And with the towering duo of Kendall Waston and Tim Parker sitting in behind him, it’s no wonder opposing offenses have found it hard to score on the Whitecaps as of late.
The Importance of Ghazal
If you haven’t seen it on the field, and the points made here aren’t enough to convince you, then nothing will.
Aly Ghazal has shown his athleticism, intelligence, agressive and effective playing style, and his physical dominance is what the Whitecaps have needed. He has quickly become an important piece of the puzzle.
It’s safe to say one thing: Aly Ghazal is the midfielder the Vancouver Whitecaps need to make a deep run in the MLS Cup Playoffs.