Make No Mistake, The Big Time Is Here!

October 30, 2010 at 6:01 am | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps In MLS | 2 Comments

With the recent arrival of BMO to accompany Bell as a major sponsor of the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Whitecaps are really hitting the big time.   While BMO has sponsored the Caps for a few years now, the size of their sponsorship deal is going to be considerably larger than previously.  BMO has obviously decided to become the “bank of soccer” in Canada, and all indications are that the partnership will be good for both sides.  There is no doubt that BMO is a top-quality sponsor in Canada.

To say the Whitecaps are going to hit the ground running when they enter Major League Soccer (MLS) next season is to make an understatement.  The Whitecaps will hit the ground at a sprint and dash past most MLS teams in terms of the resources available to the team.

The Whitecaps have the benefit of learning lessons from a few recent  MLS entrants, in particular Seattle and Toronto.  If the Whitecaps are smart, they will learn how to do things from Seattle, not Toronto.   Toronto’s owners,  MLSE, found themselves overwhelmed by the positive reaction of their city, took success for granted, and neglected successful soccer strategy on the pitch.   Seattle got both sides right: they learned how to listen to their supporters, got the business model right, and got it right on the pitch as well, making the playoffs in their first year.

Vancouver will come into the MLS a wealthy franchise.  Not only will they have the tremendous wealth of their owners, they will have major sponsorship deals and a full stadium of paying supporters at every match.  Paul Barber the, CEO of the Whitecaps, (who is constantly seen grinning ear to ear), expects to sign a few more major sponsors before the season begins next year.  Look out for a significant television deal, and naming rights to BC Place Stadium.  Now I understand why Barber quit his post with Tottenham Hotspur: the sky is the limit here in Vancouver BC.

The question for the Vancouver Whitecaps will be not where to get money, but how to spend it.

All of this money puts an enormous amount of pressure on Tom Soehn, Director of Soccer Operations and Teitur Throdarson, the Head Coach, to put together a team which will win a spot in the playoffs at the first time of asking.   They must, in order to keep their jobs, reverse the TFC model of a team which is successful in every aspect but football itself.

In the coming years, the challenge for the Whitecaps will be how to excel in football terms with the money it will have, given the tight budgetary restrictions of the MLS.  Those restrictions were created to protect the league from the reckless spending which sank the old North American Soccer League.   There is no doubt the Whitecaps will have the wealth to spend well beyond the salary cap imposed by the MLS .   The salary cap was put in effect to protect smaller clubs and to retain parity in the league, a model which is original in world football.  If there will be a problem, it will be that the MLS salary cap may hinder the Whitecap’s wish to be a world class football club.  To be truly world class in footballing terms, the Whitecaps will have to be able to spend money beyond the MLS salary cap to compete with the world’s biggest clubs.

In my view the Whitecaps will be looking to spend a lot of filthy lucre on three high quality “designated players”, if not this year then for the following year.  I expect the Whitecaps to sign a striker, a midfielder, and a defender; all designated players with very good footballing credentials.   Hopefully they will not sign old stars, but younger players who still have a future in the game.   I hope the team will have a “spine” of stars.

With all of the money the Whitecaps are raising, they will have to spend it somewhere!  Look for them to spend it on some high profile designated players.

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  1. If they do sign a defender in a DP spot it would be the first in the league, I think. And de Guzman, in a defensive midfielder role at TFC, hasn’t really been a success as a DP. So I don’t think it’s likely the Caps will use a DP slot for a defensive player. Maybe a playmaking midfielder or a winger, and hopefully a striker. I would take a player in the twilight of their career, as long as they can still contribute and aren’t just a name.

    • Brenton: Maybe I am being old fashioned, but back in the 70’s a great sweeper or defender who could defend and set up plays from the back was just as desirable as a great midfielder or striker: Rudi Krol, and Franz Beckenbauer being two. I am not into “twilight players” so much. I think the Sounder are wise to get a young Designated Player like Alvaro Fernandes (from the Uruguay world cup squad) who can actually grow a bit with the team and be at the peak of his powers.


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