Vancouver Whitecaps deal with Leeds United for Andy O’Brien

August 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2012 | 4 Comments

The history of the Vancouver Whitecaps is full of ex-Leeds United players. Johnny Giles, one of the finest players ever to play for Leeds United, was our coach back in the early eighties. Goalkeeper David Harvey, Midfielder Peter Lorimer, striker Ray Hankin and defender Terry Yorath all played for Leeds and had spells in the Whitecaps colours later in their careers.

History repeated itself today as the Whitecaps announced the signing of Andy O’Brien from Leeds, the sleeping giant which now toils away in the English Championship, at the second level of English Football.

We now have three players in our squad who have transferred to the Whitecaps from the English Championship, which demonstrates that Major league Soccer is now playing at a level close to par with the English Championship. Barry Robson, Kenny Miller and Andy O’Brien are all players in their 30s who could still play in the English Championship, but who relished the opportunity to play in another league before their careers are over. As far a centre backs go, O’Brien is still relatively young at 33, and players are now able to take care of their bodies through physical therapy and diet so they can play well into their late 30’s.

One of the glaring gaps in the Whitecaps squad was the lack of reliable deputies for Jay DeMerit and Martin Bonjour. O’Brien’s signing adds another quality centre back to compete with our two starters for a spot on match days, and to deputize effectively for DeMerit or Bonjour where there are multiple fixtures close to one another. O’Brien fits the bill perfectly. He is well capable of competing for a starting spot, and even if he does not get a starting spot, he will be able to deputize very well.

As Whitecaps Coach Martin Rennie has pointed out in interviews, a football team needs not only a good starting eleven, but competition for all eleven spots to keep the starters sharp. It is hard to say if Martin Bonjour is on the bubble, because he has been a very effective partner for DeMerit. Bonjour does not have the experience of some 300 or so games in the English Premiership which O’Brien can brag about, however.

O’Brien has had a very impressive career thus far, playing for Bolton, Newcastle and Portsmouth along his way, and having earned 26 caps for Ireland.

I predict that the signing of O’Brien will have a very good effect on the club and its squad, and I look forward to seeing what he brings to the pitch. I predict he will see some first team action soon, and that we will be watching some real footballing class.

If it is to be O’Brien and DeMerit in a partnership, perhaps it will bring back memories of John Craven and Roger Kenyon, our central defensive pairing which was virtually unbreachable back in the 1979 season.

Welcome to Vancouver, Andy O’Brien!



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  1. Seems ok on paper. He suffered depression last year and rode the bench afterwards so he hasn’t played much in 9 months. That is a long time so it may be 4-6 weeks before he is in any kind of game shape.

  2. best wishes to Andy O’Brien from all at Leeds – he’s had a tough time recently but he’s a fighter, and he’ll pull through. Should be a good recruit for the Whitecaps.

    • Thanks John, we are delighted to have him. By the way my dad lived in Featherstone and my mum lived in Methley!

  3. apparently your wish for a south american midfielder is also about to be granted

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