The Vancouver Whitecaps announced today Defender Alain Rochat has been dealt to D.C. United in exchange for a natural second round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, and a conditional pick for 2016. The Canadian born Rochat played in 11 matches this season, recording no points.
I hate this move so much, I can barely stand it. Why, in a time when the Whitecaps have finally looked like a cohesive unit, like they've finally found some semblance of chemistry, would you trade away one of the leaders on the squad, one of the most versatile players on the squad, and a rock of a defender when that is the area you are most lacking on the roster now?
Alain Rochat has easily been the best defender not named YP Lee since he put on a Whitecaps kit, and the Whitecaps feel they have a better chance of winning without him? Is there something I'm missing here? Is this some sort of sick joke? Plus, two second round draft picks? Is that really the best price the Whitecaps could fetch for Rochat, considering what he brings to the table on a match by match basis?
Last season, the Whitecaps parted with Eric Hassli, Davide Chiumiento (not their decision), and Sebastien Le Toux among others, and the mis-mash of new personalities and unfamilairity eventually torpedoed a very promising season. It looks like the Whitecaps brass haven't learned from their mistakes, as this has to be a move to clear salary so they can bring another guy in. Scratch that; it had better be a salary dump, because if they really just gift wrapped Alain Rochat and sent him away for nothing, then they had better have some very good excuses to spout at Whitecaps fans this off-season.
Who now steps in for Rochat on the backline? Does Martin Rennie and co. think that Jordan Harvey, a man who has struggled mightily ever since he became a Whitecap, can really step in and replace Alain Rochat? Perhaps they plan to re-insert Brad Rusin at centerback and put Johnny Leveron out wide, but still, are those better options than Alain-freaking-Rochat?
Usually, I'd consider my writing to err on the side of caution, and to steer away from reactionary statements. However, as a Whitecaps supporter, I fail to see any logic in this move. Some can argue Rochat was a lesser, meeker player on the road, but there's no question what he brought to the table bettered most defenders on the Whitecaps roster.
Why wasn't the move postponed until after the Seattle match, considering it's a very important match in terms of the standings. A win means Vancouver leapfrogs the Sounders into 6th place, and you would think they would want all their guns for that fight. Instead, now a depth defender like Harvey or Rusin will have to be inserted in the lineup despite not playing a whole lot this season.
I mean, there just has to be more than meets the eye here. Either Rochat wanted out, or the Whitecaps are bringing in another body and needed to get rid of a big salary. In any case, the Whitecaps better have something up their sleeve, because the move as it stands now, makes little to no sense.
Finally, I would like to thank Alain Rochat for his time here. He was a genuinely nice person, a great leader on the pitch and always brought a high level of competitiveness and skill when he played. Good luck to you, Mr. Rochat, and enjoy that you'll never have to worry about a Canadian Championship match again.