Vancouver Whitecaps

For much of 2015, the Vancouver Whitecaps were shaping up to be the toast of the league. They were fast, they were young, they played attractive soccer and, true to their Canadian-ness, were really hard to dislike. After their 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 8, a Supporters' Shield looked to be within their grasp.

But they followed that up with losses in two of their next three and three of their next five, ultimately winning just one of their final six regular-season games and getting bounced from the playoffs by the Portland Timbers.

All of these things people liked about the Whitecaps last year remain, but now they need to find some consistency.

2015 record16-13-5, 2nd place in Western Conference

2015 Playoffs Conference Semifinals

Key additions Masato Kudo, Christian Bolanos, Blas Perez, Fraser Aird

Key losses Mauro Rosales, Gershon Koffie, Steven Beitashour, Robert Earnshaw

Projected Starting XI (4-1-3-2) David Ousted; Fraser Aird, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Sam Adekugbe; Matias Laba; Cristian Techera, Pedro Morales, Christian Bolanos; Masato Kudo, Octavio Rivero

Q&A with Jon Szekeres, Eighty-Six Forever

Why should a new fan support this team?

Some of the most underrated stars in MLS play in Vancouver. Chilean playmaker Pedro Morales looks to bounce back to the form that took the league by storm in 2014 after an injury-filled 2015, while Costa Rican defender Kendall Waston is the kind of center back tailor-made to dominate MLS. And then there's goalkeeper David Ousted, denied (perhaps even robbed?) of MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors last season, as his statistics and consistent play elevated the Whitecaps and make him perhaps the league's most underrated player.

Our season hinges on...

The new additions made in the offseason. Although Kekuta Manneh, Cristian Techera and Octavio Rivero return and will be expected to play their part in producing goals, newcomers Masato Kudo, Christian Bolanos and Blas Perez will be given regular minutes and the hope is that they will help the team score consistently, something that has been a considerable problem the past two seasons. And if they can do that, then maybe the Whitecaps will bust a club slump and actually win a postseason match. They've made the playoffs twice now since entering MLS in 2011, and it's time for them to get the monkey off their back and get a win.

What we're scared of derailing our season

A sputtering attack is the stuff of nightmares up in Vancouver. The defensive side of the ball looks to be in great shape, but the Whitecaps have shown a propensity to go multiple games without scoring in previous seasons, as shots and forwards' confidence dry up. Given the quality of the service the strikers get, something's got to give and hopefully Rivero, Kudo, and wily MLS veteran Perez can keep the goals coming all season long.

Game we're looking forward to

The first postseason match. The Whitecaps had their best-ever regular season, but they still failed to advance in the playoffs. This year will be defined by the ability to go farther.