Expected for the last 10 days to two weeks, the Vancouver Whitecaps made it official on Thursday, announcing the signing of Mexican Efrain Juarez from Monterrey, via targeted allocation money. The contract runs through 2019, wiht a club option for 2020.
At just 29-years-old Juarez has a very impressive resume. He spent two years at the FC Barcelona Academy, has appeared 39 times for Mexico (including three matches in the 2010 World Cup), played and scored in the UEFA and CONCACAF Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and the Club World Cup.
Worth noting that most, if not all, of the accolades Juarez has accomplished have occurred while playing at right back. However, one of the reasons Juarez agreed to come to the Whitecaps was the opportunity to play in the midfield. It appears that is where he is most interested in spending the latter portion of his career.
The news that Juarez will be deployed in the midfield is good for Jake Nerwinski, who would have clearly been benched for the more experienced Juarez. Looking at this from a fan’s perspective, it is also nice to see the Caps developing a player (Jake) instead of playing him for a bit and then burying him behind older players.
What is odd about the signing is that if he is going to play in the midfield, it is unclear where that might be. His ‘secondary’ position is listed as defensive midfielder, however, the Whitecaps already have Ghazal, Tchani, and others to fill that position. He could play centrally, but it is odd to believe that a career-long right back will suddenly be an effective distributor. He could play out wide on the wing, but that just tells me that Carl Robinson intends to reinforce his bunker down defensively and look for the odd opening. We have seen in the past when Robbo has played de Jong as a winger. Do we see the same thing with Juarez? I really hope not, but I am not quite sure what else to conclude. Maybe we see a fulcrum situation with Ghazal and Juarez/Tchani? Not sure how that works with a 3 CB defense as has been suggested of late. To me, that just means that Juarez or Ghazal will end up being the fourth defender at times, and the two wingbacks (Nerwinski and de Jong) will sit a bit higher up...but also be defenders. So, do we end up seeing eight defensive and three offensive players on the field? I sure hope not.
I am excited to see what Juarez can bring. While he has been a bit out of favor lately in Liga MX, he certainly has the pedigree to be an impactful player. The question will be where on the field that impact will occur.
What are your takes on the Juarez deal? Where do you see him placing within the club?