The 2018 Major League Soccer season came to an official close last night in Atlanta, with Atlanta United hoisting the MLS Cup in their second professional season. With the conclusion of the season, MLS has a short, four-hour trade window. Upon being hired, Marc Dos Santos said that the club would be active this off-season, so this was their first opportunity to prove that.
A week ago, the Vancouver Whitecaps made the peculiar decision to not exercise contract options they had on, arguably, their number one and number two goalkeepers. The move to not renew Stefan Marinovic was not too much of a surprise, as the Kiwi had a fairly average season, while occupying a coveted international roster slot. Meanwhile, Spencer Richey had spent last season on-loan to Cincinnati in the USL, where he had a stellar season. There was hope, at least from this fan, that Richey would come back and assume the mantle. However, that appeared not to be. It is possible that Marc Dos Santos wanted his own player(s) in net, but it also could have been that Richey found a home in Cincinnati and wanted to return, which the Caps were not going to stand in the way of him doing (more on that later). Regardless, after the player option announcements, the Caps were left with one goalkeeper on the senior roster, Sean Melvin, who had not played a game with the senior team, and actually did not play a professional game all last year.
It was obvious that the goalkeeper situation was one that needed to be addressed quickly. MDS wasted no time in addressing that hole, picking up two quality keepers at his first opportunity. On Sunday, the Whitecaps picked up Maxime Crepeau from Montreal and Zac MacMath from Colorado.
Vancouver acquired Crepeau from the Impact in exchange for the minimum $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), and Vancouver’s third-round pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. Meanwhile, they acquired MacMath from the Rapids for $100,000 in TAM and Nicolas Mezquida.
Maxime Crepeau (24) spent last season on loan to Ottawa Fury, where he recorded a USL record 15 clean sheets (in 31 appearances). This led to him being named USL Goalkeeper of the Year; an award he beat out Richey for. He also recorded two clean sheets in four 2018 Canadian Championship matches.
He has long been a member of the Montreal Impact, coming from their academy in 2010, but seemed to fall out of favor with the current coaching staff. His long history with Montreal though means that MDS is very familiar with the youngster and should have a good idea of his strengths and weaknesses.
On the international scene, Crepeau has played for Canada at the U-17, U-20, U-23, and senior levels, with two caps. He is currently Canada’s number two or three keeper, behind Milan Borjan (and maybe Simon Thomas).
As the rumor of Crepeau arriving came first, it was expected that he would be the starting keeper. However, that might not occur, as the Caps picked up Zac MacMath today as well. A little older, which for keepers is a good thing, at 27, MacMath has eight seasons of MLS experience, playing four with Colorado and four with Philadelphia. He was stellar in both locations, only losing his starting position to one of the best keepers in MLS in Andrew Blake in Philadelphia, and a massively over-priced Tim Howard in Colorado. As a result, MacMath was relegated to the bench in both of his stops not because of poor play but because of each club’s need to play another keeper.
MacMath is a great goalkeeper and was seen as a future start with the Philadelphia Union prior to the arrival of Andrew Blake. Still, in both Philadelphia and Colorado, he pushed the incumbent and never made it an easy decision for the coach. As a result, I see this as a very big positive for the Whitecaps.
Looking at the keeper salary situation, the Whitecaps lost Marinovic ($162,562.40), Rowe ($135,000), and Richey ($68,254.20) and picked up MacMatch ($170,000) and Crepeau ($84,083.33), reducing their salary commitment at the position by $106,733.27; and picking up an international roster spot in the process.
The Whitecaps were not done with the wheeling and dealing. First, they lost Nicolas Mezquida to Colorado, which is a disappointment as he was always a reliable substitute. However, Mezquida never really seemed to take his opportunities when given them and appeared to peak. Hopefully he can make the next move in his career in Colorado. If he can keep his high-paced play in the thin-air of Colorado, he could prove to be a very useful player for the Rapids late in matches against tired opponents.
The Whitecaps also dealt Richey to FC Cincinnati for their third-round pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. The trade confirms what many of us expected which was that Richey and Cincinnati wanted each other and the Whitecaps did not want to stand in Richey’s way, as he seemed to have found a great home in Cincinnati. I would not be surprised to see Richey take a big leap this upcoming year and become a well-known name in MLS. At least, that is my hope for him.
Finally, the Whitecaps made one other move, acquiring left back Victor “PC” Giro from Orlando City SC for Vancouver’s third-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. The 24-year-old PC is a native of Sao Paulo and has spent the past two seasons in Orlando City, appearing in 18 matches and scoring one goal and adding one assist. Prior to MLS, PC was with Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay of the NASL. In 2018, Giro made $95,312.50. Giro now joins a crowded left (wing) back position with Brett Levis and Marcel de Jong.
Victor “PC” Giro
FC Cincinnati’s 2020 MLS SuperDraft third-round pick
One international roster spot (through Mezquida being traded).
$150,000 in TAM
2019 & 2020 MLS SuperDraft third-round pick
There you have it, the first major roster moves from Marc Dos Santos. What are your thoughts on the decisions? Like the players? Good value? Let us know your thoughts.