Whitecaps player acquisition strategy called into questionJanuary 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2012 | 14 Comments
The Vancouver Whitecaps can be forgiven for making some rookie errors in their first season in Major League Soccer. The Whitecaps paid for one of those errors today when they bought out Mustapha Jarju’s contract. One has to ask the question: why did the Whitecaps decide to make a player who was playing in the second division of a third rate European soccer league (Belgium) into a designated player on a contract which paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year?
When we look around the league at some of the designated players in MLS, how many were purchased from such a humble place? Thierry Henry, Rafa Marques, and David Beckham came from arguably the second best league in the world when they came over to MLS from Spain’s La Liga as designated players. Robbie Keane made his way to LA via England’s Premier league, and LA’s other designated player Landon Donavan has demonstrated he can hold his own in that league too.
When you consider the designated players in MLS and where they came from, the Vancouver Whitecaps look pretty silly in awarding a rich designated player contract to a guy playing in what could only be described as lower league football in Europe.
If all of this is alarming enough consider that virtually all of the Whitecaps off season acquisitions for the 2012 season also come from leagues which are, frankly, sub-standard. Yesterday the Whitecaps acquired Jun Marques Davidson; my heart leapt when I read his middle name and thought he was a Mexican or perhaps an Argentinian midfielder. It turns out he is of mixed Japanese and American nationality, and that he was most recently playing in the Japanese second division. Imagine my disappointment. Davidson is one four Rennie loyalists the Whitecaps have signed who previously played for him with the Carolina Railhawks. The Carolina Railhawks play in the league below MLS. Young Pyo Lee did play in England and Germany, but last played in Saudi Arabia, which does not rank among the top leagues in the world. Lee Nguyen last played in Vietnam, which is probably below Saudi Arabia in quality.
All of this calls into question why the Whitecaps are having such a devil of a time attracting the high level of talent which other clubs in MLS are able to attract from top leagues. Is it the fact that players don’t want to play in Canada? Is it the fact that players do not want to play most of their games in a season on Fieldturf (my pet theory). Or is it the case (please God) that the Whitecaps have some high quality targets to fill the other two designated player spots?
I suppose on the brighter side we never heard of Camilo prior to his arrival in Vancouver. Our little striker played in Korea, Malta, and in the lower echelons of Brazilian football prior to coming to the Whitecaps. It turns out he was our top scorer and best player last year, even better than our designated player Eric Hassli (who also did not come from the best league on earth).
While we all hope for a better 2012 season, I must say I am alarmed to see that virtually all signings for next year are so far coming to us from substandard football leagues.
We can only hope that our new acquisitions are Camilos rather than Jarjus!