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Do the Whitecaps Have a Swiss Connection?

One finds all sorts of weird stuff on the Internet. People who take credit for arranging the footballing destinies of anyone they shook the hand of once in a pub after the game. Most of these stories are just crackpots tooting their own horn, but of course there's the occasional guy for who it is true: the Whitecaps once employed Thomas Niendorf as their Residency boss, who introduced Owen Hargreaves to Germany and thus started that whole hellish nightmare on earth.

So it's with some interest that I read an article (in French; here's the robotic translation) from the Swiss daily newspaper Le Matin e-mailed to me by whiteisthecolour on the BigSoccer boards about Loïc Favre, son of long-time Swiss and German league manager Lucien Favre, and his role with a company that represents a number of famous soccer players.

You've read this sort of article before. Favre gets some attention because of his famous father, and he brags and makes himself sound important and his organization like it's the most amazing, unique thing in the world ("La simple étiquette d'agent de joueur, il n'aime pas," he says, as if his company, Wasserman Media Group LLC, is the greatest thing since sliced bread instead of a simple sports management firm far more familiar to us in North America than those in Europe). It's interesting reading, but as much to laugh at the pretentions of its subject as to learn anything.

No, the reason I bring you this article is because of two of the names this young Swiss man has charge of: Alain Rochat and Davide Chiumiento. The article talks about bringing those players to the Whitecaps and gives us a glimpse at the process of bringing some fairly distinguished Swiss players across the water to Vancouver. It's not much, but it is something.

Favre sounds enthusiastic about the Whitecaps, and why shouldn't he? They've signed two of his clients to presumably pretty big-ticket deals and of course the agent's going to see his cut of that. "Financièrement, Vancouver pourrait même se payer Drogba," says Favre, and while I don't think Didier's going to be making the jump to MLS any time soon one can understand Favre's enthusiasm. Particularly as he claims the Whitecaps have engaged him to search for MLS-quality attacking players; the one area where the Whitecaps have made very little noise unless you count Cody Arnoux and Jonathan McDonald (and you really shouldn't).

The article seems unclear on whether Canada and the United States are different countries or not - Favre quotes Rochat as wanting to "vivre le rêve américain," - literally "live the American dream". That may be difficult if he's living in Canada, although I suppose he could hop across the border to Seattle between road trips and drink overpriced coffee.

What should most interest us is what I already mentioned, that "Vancouver a chargé Loïc, avec des moyens très élevés, de trouver encore un attaquant et un numéro 10." The Whitecaps have told Favre that they have money to spend, so find a striker and a number ten and damn the expense. It was in that context that the Drogba comment was made, and more optimistic folks than I would find hope in Favre's explicitly pointing out that his company represents Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, who I would consider an acceptable sort of first-season designated player (if about as realistic as Soehn traveling back in time to bring us Pelé in his prime). Of course the Whitecaps will have other irons in the fire beyond one ambitious Swiss agent, but if Favre deserves credit for bringing in Rochat and Chiumiento, that means Soehn's shown a willingness to trust his judgement and Favre's shown an ability to lure above-average players. It's nothing to get excited about, exactly, but if our first designated player ends up being a big-name striker playing in Switzerland or Germany, this article will be even more interesting in hindsight.