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Whitecaps Off-Season Starting to Pick Up?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps started their player movement off-season quickly, announcing the majority of the players they were going to retain and release shortly after the regular season concluded. However, since those announcements it has been fairly quiet in Whitecaps land.

On Friday the club introduced the long awaited Sporting Director Axel Schuster. Of course, in typical Whitecaps fashion, some knives were out for Schuster before he had even shown what he can (or cannot) do with the Whitecaps.

Personally, I am excited about the new direction of the club and I don’t know if it will work out. At this point though, I can say that they are at least trying to do something new (for them). At the very least, the excuses the club, or fans, have used previously for failures will be more difficult to use now that they have a group of scouts, a sporting director, a capable coach, and, potentially, an increased budget.

In player transaction news, the club announced two moves today. The first was already known, at least partly. Doneil Henry has been transferred to K League 1 club Suwon Samsung Bluewings. It is unclear how much the transfer was for, but Marc Dos Santos did state that the club received General Allocation Money from the deal, which “…will provide some additional roster flexibility as we continue to build our roster”. It is a shame that Henry is gone. I didn’t have too high of hopes for him when he arrived, and didn’t look the greatest in 2018, but he really proved himself as an anchor in defense after the departure of Kendall Waston in the off-season. In the end though, maybe the club was right in moving Henry, potentially selling high.

From a roster construction perspective, the move does create some challenges. Henry was making a reasonable $204,242 in 2019, Canadian, and counted as a domestic. It is likely that any move the club makes to replace him, and they need to, will require the use of a coveted international roster spot.

The move also signifies, at least in my eyes, that any chance people believed there was that MDS would go with three center backs, moving Adnan to wingback, is gone. However, it also puts EXTREME pressure on the club to now acquire Erik Godoy. Cornelius demonstrated a growing ability at center back, but it would probably be good for the club not to be completely reliant on him going forward. Meanwhile, Jasser Khmiri was impressive in his one appearance, but it was only one appearance. Having a starting duo of Godoy and Khmiri would be formidable though, with Cornelius to fill in for either, and a fourth veteran just in case (or put Andy Rose there in emergencies).

Although the club announced the majority of their current player moves at the end of the season, there were still a few up in the air. One of those is no longer unknown. The Caps announced that they would not exercise the 2020 contract option on Victor ‘PC’ Giro. Why this was a question mark up to this point is confusing as PC didn’t play too well and was phased out of the club by the latter part of the season. Therefore, it was a curious decision as to why they took so long to make a final verdict on him.

Regardless, the Whitecaps now have 18 players under contract for 2020, with some obvious holes. Here is a look at the roster breakdown, with young ‘prospects’ separated out

Goalkeepers: Maxime Crepeau, Zac MacMath

Full Backs: Ali Adnan, Jacob Nerwinski

Center Backs: Jasser Khmiri, Derek Cornelius

Midfielders: Jon Erice, In-Beom Hwang, Andy Rose, Russell Teibert

Forwards: Fredy Montero, Yordy Reyna, Tosaint Ricketts, Theo Bair

Prospects: Thomas Hasal (GK), Georges Mukumbilwa (MF), Michael Baldisimo (MF), Simon Colyn (MF)

That roster certainly needs some work!