Shortly before the Major League Soccer Primary Transfer Window closed at 11:59 EST, last night, the Vancouver Whitecaps acquired winger/forward Bernie Ibini-Isei from Belgium’s Club Brugge.
Ibini is a 24-year-old Australian who has been on loan to Australian A-League’s Sydney FC from Club Brugge. In his two loan spells with Sydney FC, Ibini has 3 goals in 20 appearances. He has represented Australia at the U-20 World Cup and with the senior team.
Carl Robinson has described Bernie as big and powerful, who can play on the wing or as a center forward. The Caps have needed a target forward for some time, as Erik Hurtado has not filled that role. However, it is hard to believe that a player with 3 goals in 20 appearances is going to be that threat. To be fair, Ibini is more of a winger than a center forward, but Shea, Techera, and Bolanos are also wingers and score goals. In addition, 19 of his 20 appearances were as a second half substitute. You might wonder what the play quality is like in Australia. While it is almost impossible to compare leagues, for various reasons, I have heard others place the Australian league around the same level as MLS.
The biggest issue with Ibini is that he has a history of injuries and, in fact, is injured right now and expected to be out for around two months. However, if he is able to remain fit, others have stated that he is a solid player.
To summarize, the Vancouver Whitecaps have acquired another winger, who has fitness/health issues, and has not really shown an ability to score. However, he does have international experience and could provide depth at forward.
What are your thoughts?