Ali Adnan: The Key Cog in the Vancouver Backline
On March 9th the Vancouver Whitecaps and Marc Dos Santos signed Iraqi international left-back, Ali Adnan, on a loan deal from Udinese in the Serie A. The loan deal was through June of 2019. Adnan came over to the Whitecaps with experience from the Turkish Super Lig and the Serie A. He also has been a consistent player for the Iraq National Team since his first appearance at the age of 18 in 2012. The addition to Adnan has been extremely noticed by the ‘Caps head coach and fans. After the Whitecaps 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy, Dos Santos stated this about Adnan “What I take out of it, is for one, he’s the best left back in MLS”. That is a bold statement for a league with growing full back talent every season. When looking around MLS there is a ton of left back talent such as; Kemar Lawrence, Joseph Mora, Nathan Smith, Milton Valenzuela, Greg Garza, and Ronald Matarrita. In my opinion, I still believe that when healthy, Kemar Lawrence is the best left back in MLS… but Ali Adnan must be in the top three conversation at this point.
The Whitecaps played three games this season without Adnan; a 3-2 loss to Minnesota, a 1-0 loss to RSL, and a 3-2 loss to Houston. In that three game stretch the Whitecaps allowed a total of 7 goals, an average of 18 shots against, and an average of 5.3 shots against that were on target. In those games (on the left side of the field) Vancouver allowed 1 goal, 12 shots and 4 shots on target. It has been an extremely positive change in his 5 games on the backline. Adnan played a full 90 minutes in all his games so far, two of those games coming against two of the best teams in MLS. A total amount of 4 goals were allowed in those 5 games; a 0-0 draw to Seattle, a 2-0 loss to the Galaxy, a 1-1 draw to the Fire, a 1-0 win vs LAFC, and a 1-0 loss to Orlando City. The defense has been much improved since his addition and some positive results have come across their schedule as well. On top of the improved goals allowed since his arrival, the Whitecaps shots against average dropped to 16.6 shots per game, and of those shots, 3.8 on target per game. On the left side of the field in those 5 games, Vancouver has allowed 0 goals, 14 shots, and only 3 on target.
Ali Adnan won’t solve all the Whitecaps problems, and even lead them to the playoffs be himself, BUT his presence will help with defensive performances from a pretty much brand-new team north of the border. If he is not signed permanently, I think that the Whitecaps fans should have a true problem with how the team is being run. #VanyAdnan