Prior to the second leg of the Voyageurs Cup final on Wednesday, the Vancouver Whitecaps parted ways with former WFC Residency product Marco Bustos. The move comes after he returned from a loan to Ascenso MX side Club Atletico Zacatepec.
It is hard to fully understand what happened with Bustos. It could be argued that he never really received an opportunity to show his skills with the Whitecaps, making only 13 appearances, with most being in the Canadian Championship. Part of his lack of opportunity could be attributed to his injury issue a few years ago; however, that hardly seems to be the whole story.
Bustos follows in a long line of young Whitecaps players that never fully ‘make it’. With the success of Alphonso Davies, it could be argued that if they are good enough then they are given an opportunity, but players like Sam Adekugbe and Kianz Froese may suggest otherwise. Despite touting themselves as a development club, the Whitecaps rarely play the young kids, folded their ‘pipeline’ team in WFC 2, and have a TERRIBLE affiliation deal with Fresno FC.
Possibly like Adekugbe and Froese, who are currently playing in lower divisions in Europe, Bustos was a Quad-A player, in baseball terms. That is, he was too good for USL but not good enough for MLS. Certainly in his minutes with the WFC 2, Bustos shone bright. He is the ThunderCaps all-time goal leader, with 22, and had five assists, over 57 appearances. Maybe that ratio of 22 goals to 5 assists may be part of the story though. Wanting Bustos to be a play maker more than a goal scorer, it is possible that Carl Robinson never saw how Bustos fit into his game plan.
Of course, we will see whether Carl Robinson missed something in Bustos, as he will join USL side OKC Energy FC
Rumored for the past week, the Whitecaps made it official on Friday, adding Salvadorian central defender Roberto Dominguez to the club. The 21-year-old comes with an impressive resume, for his age, having 136 appearances in the Salvadorian Primera Division, and 15 caps with the El Salvador national team.
Being just 21-years-old, it is unlikely that the youngster is coming in to take over a starting role from Doneil Henry or Kendall Waston, and is more likely one of Carl Robinson’s ‘diamond in the rough’ projects. That may be a bit harsh to Dominguez, as he is not Deybi Flores; but we have seen Robbo make similar moves before, only to see the youngster not be given many opportunities.
The introduction of Dominguez may have domino effects, suggesting that Jose Aja and Aaron Maund may be on their way out at the conclusion of this season. A case for that could certainly be made for Maund, who has been given very limited opportunities, and has often been excluded in favor of defensive midfielder Aly Ghazal. Currently injured, Aja has not had many recent opportunities, but did look good prior to Henry taking over the starting role. Of course, the Whitecaps need more than three center backs next season, and you don’t necessarily want to rely on the unproven 21-year-old to be that third choice. However, if Aja is on the roster next season, the Whitecaps will have to send allocation money to Orlando City, and in a salary cap league, his $240,000 salary could be better served elsewhere.
While the release of Marco Bustos and the acquisition of Roberto Dominguez does little to impact the Whitecaps active roster, they should not be simply ignored. What are your takes on the two moves? Did you feel Bustos never got an opportunity to show himself or was he simply not good enough? What about the addition of Dominguez? Are you excited/optimistic? Does it signal something else with regards to Maund/Aja?