The Vancouver Whitecaps have signed 14 new players (so far) ahead of the 2019 season. That’s a lot to keep up with. So I’ve compiled them all into a list ranked in order of how excited I am for them. If you want more specific run downs on these players then we have articles for most of them.
14. Andy Rose
Well someone had to be last. I don’t hate the signing of Andy Rose but it does not spark joy. Rose joins from Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership where he was a regular starter. He will be most familiar to ‘Caps fans for his time with the Seattle Sounders. Rose was generally fine in Seattle but nothing to write home about. His stats are similar to Russel Teibert’s but with less accurate passing and fewer defensive actions. You do need cheap depth in MLS, and some veterans on a young team, but if the Whitecaps are serious with their academy then I think they aught to be phasing out players in their late 20’s who are just okay.
13. Scott Sutter
Sutter is a veteran right back who joins from Orlando City. The Whitecaps needed a right back to cover for/push Jake Nerwinski and Sutter does that. MDS is quite high on residency winger/full back Georges Mukumbilwa in the right back role but Sutter, with his experience in Europe and MLS, is a pretty good option to hold the fort until Mukumbilwa is ready to play big minutes in MLS.
12. Victor “PC” Giro
PC is a left back/left winger who also joins from Orlando City. PC was frequently described by Orlando fans as one of the worst players in MLS. The expectations for him are not exactly high. But he’s a player MDS knows from his time in Brazil, and who has shown a lot of energy as a left winger in preseason so far. It will be interesting to see if Dos Santos can get more out of him. He’s probably a depth piece but with not much depth (yet) at left back he will have a chance to stake a claim to a starting spot
11. Zac MacMath
MacMath has historically been a perfectly average MLS keeper. So far in preseason he’s been just that. It’s not very exciting but it is a big improvement on below average goalkeeping, which the Whitecaps had in 2018.
10. Maxime Crepeau
Crepeau has been a stand out in USL but hasn’t gotten a real shot in MLS yet. In preseason he’s looked slightly ahead of MacMath so he’s slightly ahead of him on the list.
9. Derek Cornelius
Cornelius will probably be mostly depth in 2019, but if his development is handled properly he could be a star in this league. He’s 21 so he’s not a total youngster, but he’s shown pretty well for Canada. With some fine-tuning he could be an excellent ball playing centre back.
8. Jon Erice
I was initially pretty skeptical of Jon Erice as he’s 32 and has spent most of his career in Spain’s second division. But there are some stats to show he was one of the best passers in La Liga 2, his team never lost when he played, and he’s looked excellent in preseason so far. I’d still probably rather have a younger player but Erice seems like a good placeholder until Baldisimo or Norman can be developed to fill that spot in the long term (which they should be looking to do if, as MDS says, they are serious about vertical integration). They should get fairly good chances to rotate in as Erice will probably be rested for longer road trips and midweek games.
7. Lucas Venuto
Venuto is a quick winger who joins from the Austrian Bundesliga. Production in that league translates basically 1 to 1 in MLS and Venuto’s production in Austria suggests he’s a small but definitive upgrade on Cristian Techera. I don’t think he’ll be a huge star but he’s a good piece to have.
6. Jasser Khmiri
Khmiri is a player who’s resume, I think, is hugely underrated by Whitecaps fans thus far. Most people have him clearly behind Henry and I’ve even seen him as #4 on the centre back depth chart. I think this stems from people underrating how good the Tunisian league is. I’m not sure with exact specificity how the Tunisian league compares to MLS but it is the strongest league in Africa and players from worse African leagues have done very well in MLS. I don’t know if the Tunisian league is as good as MLS but they are at least in the same band of leagues. Khmiri was a really good player in the Tunisian league and was a late cut from Tunisia’s 2018 World Cup team. He apparently had interest from some pretty big clubs in Europe. He may not start on opening day but he will push Henry very closely and could have a big future in MLS, or even beyond.
5. Lass Bangoura
Bangoura joins from Rayo Vallecano of La Liga. He’s a player who’s career has never quite lived up to the initial hype. I’ve seen a lot of people who have him behind Venuto and I’m not really sure why. Yes, Venuto has more career goals than Bangoura but, stop me if this sounds crazy, it’s harder to score in La Liga than it is in the Austrian league. There are a number of underlying stats that suggest, while Bangoura wasn’t getting the goals, he was doing good things. He compares favourably to Alphonso Davies in a number of ways and produced at a similar rate to Pedro Morales in La Liga so I think he will surprise people.
4. Erik Godoy
Godoy joins on loan from Argentinian side Colón. He has over 100 appearances in the Argentine first division. He got mixed reviews there but the Argentine league is significantly better than MLS and players with his type of resume have been big successes in the past. He is going to have to be good if the Whitecaps are going to turn around their defensive woes from last season.
3. Joaquin Ardaiz
Once one of the most sought after young talents in world football, the 20 year old Ardaiz has had his career stalled somewhat by bad advice and financially motivated decisions by the investment group that owns him. He is perhaps the most fascinating signing the Whitecaps have made. Ardaiz joins on loan with an option to buy from Swiss second division side F.C. Chiasso but he has never played for them. He was only transferred there for the tax purposes of the financial group that owns 70% of his rights (seriously if I see one more person say “BuT hE dIDn’T EvEN pLAy iN SwITZerLAnD” I might explode) . He had a good, though not great, season on loan in the Belgian first division but rather than being given more time to grow there or in a league of that level, he was then farmed out to Frosinone of Serie A. He suffered an injury and only made one appearance. So now the Whitecaps have this player who less than two years ago had all of the best clubs in the world after him and was being called the next Cavani. If the Whitecaps can get him back to that then look out.
2. Fredy Montero
Fredy Montero is back. He’s essentially MDS’ version of Kei Kamara. An older striker (though Montero is two years younger than Kamara) who’s still got a lot of quality and is a near ideal fit for the system. He managed 14 goals and 6 assists under Carl Robinson in a system that did not suit him at all so the idea of him playing in a system that isn’t just pumping the ball into the box is incredibly tantalizing.
- Inbeom Hwang
The Whitecaps shelled out their biggest transfer fee since Octavio Rivero for Hwang. They did so with good reason. After being freed from limbo in the Korean second division by winning a gold medal at the Asian games, and therefore exemption from national service, Hwang is moving to the Whitecaps in the hopes that it will send him on the path to one of the big 5 European leagues. There is some talk that he had a more direct route to that goal was quashed by Daejeon and a “shady” agent. Nevertheless there is every reason to believe Hwang has what it takes to be the next Miguel Almiron, an MLS star in his early 20s who’s sold to Europe for big profit. He was part of the Asian Cup team of the tournament and his stats were consistent with what you’d expect from an elite midfielder, both offensively and defensively. Nothing is ever guaranteed in football but Hwang has enormous potential to be the next big thing in Vancouver.