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Whitecaps Add One, Re-Add Another, Make No Difference Whatsoever

The Vancouver Whitecaps signed more players this week, because that's what the Vancouver Whitecaps do lately. The team they already had was good enough to run first in the NASL conference, but that sure didn't make Tom Soehn happy. There aren't many corners of Europe he hasn't seemed to comb for players, especially given the time before the Whitecaps play their first MLS game and the fact that potential Whitecaps acquisitions playing in North America won't be out of contract for a few months.

Keeping track of all these guys is starting to make my head spin. My brain is filled with nothing but new Whitecaps and it's making me insane. I went to the grocery store and accidentally called the cashier "Terry Dunfield". There are how many more months of this coming up?!? Within eight weeks the paramedics will be scraping me off the floor and shoveling me into a trash can while shaking their heads sadly.

Neither of the new acquisitions - former Everton reserve striker and Wake Forest grad Cody Arnoux and Liberian-born American left back playing in Norway Willis Forko - are stars. Neither of them are bad players either, with Arnoux shaping up to provide some modest short-term help and Forko a potential source of MLS experience and reliability in 2011. But there's not as much to get excited about as there was last week. By no means am I saying Forko will be a bad player, but he's not up to last week's calibre. And as for Arnoux, well, it's hard to even see the point in getting him.

I certainly don't want to condemn the signing just because it isn't perfect. It's great that the Whitecaps have signed Cody Arnoux. He is, as I am a little too fond of saying, a legitimate player. But Marc Weber of the Vancouver Province, the best writer out there on the Whitecaps beat, broke the news that Major League Soccer considers the 22-year-old Arnoux eligible for the MLS SuperDraft and that the Whitecaps therefore can't carry him forward on their USSF D2 roster. This is, like Omar Salgado last week, simply an extended trial for a player who may be worth a draft pick (and that man Weber reports the Salgado deal has also gone pear-shaped).

In short, another man has done most of the vital reporting for me. Damn!

It's good news for those of us who want the Whitecaps to grab the USSF D2 title on their way out the door, like a keepsake. Then again, Arnoux may be a good player at this level but we can't expect him to be elite. Predicting USSF D2 performance because of a player's success in the English reserve divisions is a dangerous game: reserve teams are by their very nature weird, with lineups that are a grab bag of veterans working their way into shape, kids getting game experience, and whatever players of varying quality are available and worth looking at. While Arnoux's record at Wake Forest is exciting, scoring doesn't always translate well from the NCAA to professional ranks. When one factors in Arnoux's skill having to translate to a team that's been making overwhelming player changes in the last month, it would take a true optimist to see Arnoux producing in quantity.

Willis Forko, meanwhile, is being advertised as a return despite having spent only one month and no games with the Whitecaps way back in 2008. Primarily a left back (first Rochat and now Forko; more bad news for Zourab Tsiskardize). He was born in the Liberian capital of Monrovia but is also an American citizen and therefore counts as a Yankee for MLS purposes. He and his family grew up, in a soccer sense, in the United States; Forko's older brother, Sam, was a one-time New York/New Jersey MetroStar. Forko was drafted into MLS by Real Salt Lake in 2006 where he made thirty-six appearances over two seasons. After his release he walked through Swangard Stadium and waved to the locker room attendants before moving to the awkwardly-named FK Bodø/Glimt in the Norwegian Tippeligaen. Forko was a regular in Norway, and Norway's a pretty good league. Plus, having already been drafted into Major League Soccer, Forko is presumably eligible to return as a Whitecap.

I'm told that Forko can play left midfield as well, which will horrify the remaining members of the Takashi Hirano fan club but would also allow Forko to fill a somewhat glaring hole in Vancouver's potential 2011 lineup. An effective journeyman in the Tippeligaen isn't likely to be any more in Major League Soccer, but significantly Forko is Vancouver's first acquisition for 2011 who has actually played MLS before, not counting Whitecaps who were acquired prior to this year such as Blake Wagner and Jay Nolly.