Whitecaps player acquisition strategy called into question

January 20, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2012 | 14 Comments

Jarju tries to score from center; he missed...

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?

More Jarjus on the way?

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!


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  1. Very well said. I don’t know how much of a hand in things T. Soehn really has in things anymore with the club, particularly after interviewing in Colorado. However, it would appear that the Caps are still paying for his poor decisions, while continuing to make what are, at best, rather dubious decisions.

    Some analysis using the UK mirror site of the Transfermarkt.de website (http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk) yields some telling results:

    The Caps’ ROI last season (expressed in terms of pts per million in roster market value) was nothing short of abysmal: 28 pts; approx. 12.5 million CAD roster market value = 2.24 pts/mill. I haven’t done the math for every franchise, but I’m fairly sure the Caps come dead last by this measuring stick.

    By comparison, arch rival Seattle showed a market value of 12.2 million, but their 63 points last year gave them a 5.16 pts/mill invested — double the WCFC ratio.

    What about fellow MLS doormats New England Revolution? 28 pts; roster market value 9.8 million, yielding a 2.86 ratio — still significantly better than the Whitecaps.

    LA Galaxy: final ratio of 6.73 — on a roster market value of only 9.95 milllion.
    SKC: a stunning 8.82 pts/million ratio — with a roster value around half of Vancouver’s.
    TFC: final ratio 2.54.

    In short, the Caps are shelling out significantly more than their MLS counterparts, and getting far less in return.

  2. Sorry to hear that you are so disappointed with the acquisition of Jun Marques Davidson.I guess you consider J-league as a step or two below MLS standards.Well,as one who has followed the jleague for many years,don`t underestimate what you haven`t seen yet.Just sit back and see how things turn out.

    • The top tier of the J-league is a good level of football. Why don’t we get a player from that level instead of Division 2?

      • he was at that level since he was 18, his team was relegated and he went down with it…

  3. Its not about the turf its about perception. In short players in Europe when they think of North America they think of USA. Canada is cold…enough said.

    When they think of the USA they envsion New York City (the lights will inspire you..) and Los Angeles (Hollywood,Beyonce)..then in between its some cowboys and pasture.

    When these stars are on their twighligh years their massive egos dictate that to move to a lower league is only acceptable if you end up in one hollywood or broadway. Can you imagine Rinaldo on Robson street…No…in a limo with a built in hot tub driving down rodeo…yes.

    Vancouver is beautiful, i love it and most who come here do but a star cannot save face coming here after playing in the top lesgues.


  4. wait…
    you were disappointed because Davidsen wasn’t latino? that’s a little prejudece. davidsen has played in the top division in japan and you are dissapointed. martin bonjour comes from uraguay (witch is WORSE(but only slightly) then MLS) and you have nothing but praise. also davidsen only played in Carolina for one season so hes hardly a division 2 lifer. also a direct quote from martin rennie.

    “Jun is one of the most technically gifted players that I have coached,” said Rennie. “He’s a defensive-minded midfielder with a strong pedigree of quality and experience after playing in the Japanese J.League for a number of years. His passing awareness and ability to break up play in the middle is tremendous. He will be a great addition to the group.”

  5. Take that, Whitecapsfan guy! I.P.freely with a small f has got your number!


  6. couldn’t agree more with you. I’ve suggested to the whitecaps staff they should take a good look at south american players – especially brazilians and argentinians. they could find very good players over there for a reasonable price. before first season, the president kindly replied my email saying they would certainly need that kind of players, but for some reason they decided looking for players in “sub-standard” leagues.

    • How is the J-league sub standard in comparison to Brazilian or Argentinian leagues?

      • The J-League is good but not of the standard of Argentina or Brazil. If you look at who gets to the final of the World Club cup can you name me a Japanese team that has? It is always an Argentinian or a Brazilian team, in fact I can’t think of an occasion where it was not.

      • only seven nations have ever made it to the club world cup final. of those seven only four have ever won. fair enough though none of them have been Japan. however the club world cup is set up so that the winner of the champions league can sell jerseys. I dont think its a very good measuring stick of the quality of a nations leagues. just to clairify on my previous arguments, I dont believe that davidsen is going to turn this team around. however tearing him down because he is not from/hasn’t played in a latino country is totally crazy.

      • their actually have been Japanese teams who have finished third though. Urawa red diamonds in 2007 and Gamba Osaka in 2008.and just last year kashiwa reysol finished fourth

      • It is a long way between third and first in that tournament. In fact, it is a long way between second and third!

  7. Love that interchange between the freely guy and the whitecapsfan guy!

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