'Caps transition, Laba out for the season

Matías Laba strips the ball from Diego Chara.

Matías Laba strips the ball from Diego Chara.

"Matí is an important member of the club and we wish him a speedy recovery," said Vancouver Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. "Our priority now is to support Matí and help him get back on the field as soon as possible. It's a big loss for us, but we have confidence in our group as we enter the final third of the season."

The native of Villa Raffo, Argentina, will have surgery to repair his ACL in the coming weeks, and will miss the remainder of the season. The club fully expects him to make a complete recovery come the spring. But his season is over.

And with it, perhaps the Whitecaps' season as well. Matías Laba has long been one of the most unheralded players in the Major League. They say that a holding midfielder is at his best when you don't even realise he's on the field.

While his teammates are attacking, Laba's trying to sniff out potential threats and be in position to make a hard tackle, which will allow the rest of the team to catch up to the play, or a deft touch, to change possession.

For a recent example of how a holding midfielder can transform a team, just look to Nemanja Matic's influence on Manchester United FC this season. And while the 'Caps fall quite a bit short of the Red Devils, Laba performs the same role just, just at a Major League level.

He will be missed.

Fortunately, the 'Caps still have Andrew Jacobson. With Laba out, it looks like A.J., already a jack of all trades, will finally be given the chance to become master of one. 

Of course, A.J.'s versatility combined with Laba's injury might just be why the 'Caps went out and signed Aly Ghazal, an Egyptian holding midfielder who can also play centre back. The future very much remains to be seen, but we still expect A.J. to make the role his own, or at least until next season.