After what felt like an unbearable amount of speculating, rumour-mongering, hoping and - the worst - waiting, Friday morning saw confirmation of the Whitecaps' acquisition of Costa Rican defender Kendall Waston from CONCACAF powerhouse Deportivo Saprissa. The deal is contingent on a medical exam and the usual International Transfer Certificate paperwork. Interestingly, the standard "terms were not disclosed" line suggests that this was an honest-to-goodness, cash-for-player transfer and not a sneaky free transfer or end-of-contract swipe. The 'Caps are opening the pursestrings? Well, colour me pleasantly shocked and amazed.
The 6'5", 190lb. Waston is a Costa Rican international through and through, having played at the U-15, U-17, U-20, and U-23 youth levels as well as at the senior level. He was cap-tied in 2013 during a FIFA World Cup qualification match against Honduras - a match the Ticos won 1-0. Waston even made Costa Rica's provisional 30-man roster for the World Cup but was cut from the final 23-man squad.
Unsurprisingly, Waston is a towering figure on set pieces. He netted eight goals in the recently concluded Primera División clausura season, helping Saprissa capture their 30th(!) league title. Vancouver fans starving for more threats on set pieces, you may commence the drooling and the licking of chops.
In a press release, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson offered nothing but praise. "Kendall is a big, physical, aggressive centre back who has a nose for the net. He offers us a different look and we are excited to welcome Kendall to our club and city."
You have to think this signing will be the beginning of the end for Carlyle Mitchell. "Tall guy on set pieces" was basically the Trinidadian's calling card and his raison d'être on the squad. With Andy O'Brien providing leadership, Johnny Leveron providing ball-playing vision and Christian Dean providing youth, Mitchell is the odd one out with the addition of Waston. On a recent episode of From The Backline, I opined along with co-host Jorge Mendoza that this season was likely Mitchell's last chance to prove he belongs on the team. With a pure upgrade in the form of Waston having just arrived, it looks like that chance is over.
You can read the full press release over at www.WhitecapsFC.com.