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Stop it, Get Some Help: Why it’s Silly to Worry That the Vancouver Whitecaps Haven’t Signed Anyone

Just relax, please

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Part 1: Chill

Look fella’s, i’m noticing a lot of unreasonable panic in Whitecaps land lately. People are freaking out that the Whitecaps roster, as it stands, is bad, and that the pile of money (both theoretical and actual) hasn’t been spent yet. Now I’m aware that the Whitecaps aren’t run by the most competent people, and healthy skepticism of them is good, but can you give them a minute? It’s not even Christmas yet. Major signings in MLS before mid January are extremely rare. The Whitecaps added 10 players in the lead up to the 2018 season. The only one before Christmas who was an international transfer was Anthony Blondell. If you look at the MLS transfer tracker you will see that only 2 DPs have been acquired. They are Juan Fernando Caicdeo, a 30 year old who scored 11 goals in the Columbian league last year (and who may still be bought down), and Jan Gregus, a squad player for F.C Copenhagen. There are no sweepstakes being missed out on. Marc Dos Santos said on December 12th that the coaching staff would be going on scouting trips in Western Europe. Assuming they left the minute after he said that, which they almost certainly didn’t, that’s only 10 days of scouting. I imagine identifying high level players, who are also willing to come to MLS, takes a bit longer than that. So relax. Help is on the way. How good that help will be remains to be seen. We can evaluate the signings as they come in but it’s not reasonable to be worried that they aren’t coming at this stage. The Whitecap’s first preseason game is February 8th. If the team still looks like it does now on that day then you are within your rights to be worried. Even in that case it wouldn’t be time to panic as some of the best players of the MLS era, like Fredy Montero and Pedro Morales, have come in just a week or so before the first game.

Part 2: Transfer Windows Explained

A lot of the confusion stems from a misunderstanding of how transfer windows work. FIFA mandates that every member give their clubs two transfer windows. A longer one before the season and a shorter one midseason. There is, however, no specific date that these windows have to start or end on, that’s up to the country’s football governing bodies. Transfer windows only effect incoming international transfers. So even if the transfer window in England is closed, the Whitecaps can still sign a player playing there as long as the MLS transfer window is open. Similarly the Whitecaps can sell players to leagues who’s windows are open, even if their own is closed. The MLS primary window opens on February 7th and runs until May the 1st. Transfers can still be agreed before this but the player can’t be registered until February 7th. Although transfers can be agreed at anytime, clubs will generally only look to sell if their window is open because they’ll be wanting to replace the outgoing player. The only way this would not be the case would be if the club were desperate to offload the player or they had an agreement to let him go for free (like Motherwell did with Andy Rose). In either case the player coming in is probably not all that exciting. Right now the only “major” transfer window that’s open (as far as I can find) is the Kenyan one. Unless you can name me a player you desperately want who is currently playing in Kenya, you have no reason to be concerned about the lack of signings. The Whitecaps could still sign free agents or make trades within MLS at this time. However on the most recent AFTN podcast it was said that MDS had mentioned to them that the high profile signings, particularly up front, were likely to come from outside the league because the players he liked are generally playing for teams who are unwilling to let them go. The Whitecaps do have a lot of allocation money from the Kendall Waston trade but that may be being saved for buying players down or they may want to wait until their squad is more constructed to make a blockbuster deal. So in all likelihood we’ll be waiting to the new year for signings, as will everybody else in the league.