The Vancouver Whitecaps finally made it official today, adding midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker to the squad. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal had been in the works for a while, but the Whitecaps still had to work out a discovery rights deal with the Portland Timbers. In the end, the club gave up natural second round picks in the 2014 and 2015 SuperDrafts. Reo-Coker will join the squad Friday in South Carolina.
I'd consider that to be a solid transaction, when you consider how much young blood is already on the Whitecaps roster. You're essentially trading two picks that would probably be used on project players, for an established, supposedly in his prime mid. No first round picks, no important roster players. I'm good with this.
However, the move doesn't come without some question marks. First, do I even need to touch on Reo-Coker's mental state going into the 2013 season? It's been well documented that he has ego issues, and he's arguably burned bridges with essentially every squad he's been apart of.
However, he seemed genuinely interested in joining the Vancouver Whitecaps, and in a press release, Head Coach Martin Rennie referred to him as a 'leader on and off the pitch.' This means one of two things. Either Martin Rennie sees a side in Reo-Coker that most haven't, and he believes that the former PL player has something special to bring to the 'Caps,or Martin Rennie is simply a bad judge of character and leadership skills. (See Barry Robson inexplicably wearing the arm band when Jay Demerit was out)
The Whitecaps midfield now includes the up and coming Matt Watson, the versatile, creative Daigo Kobayashi, the arguable backbone of the mid in Gershon Koffie, the young Russell Teibert, and Reo-Coker. (I would consider Hurtado a hybrid) There is a lot of talent in that mid, and I'll be the first to say that it makes me look like a complete idiot. I of course penned the article 'midfield in tatters' when Barry Robson left, and the Whitecaps have done a great job of essentially shutting me up.
It may backfire. Hell, Reo-Coker has the potential to be Barry Robson 2.0. What if it works? What if the Whitecaps have just signed an under-30 talented mid that wants to be here? What if he, Koffie, and Kobayashi form great chemistry and become a three headed monster? It would instantly make the Whitecaps a playoff contender, not just an 'also-ran.'
Only time will tell what will happen, but this is one of those rare moves that could either pay off in spades, or completely torpedo the teams chemistry. One thing is definite; this club just got that more exciting heading into 2013.