In a bit of a surprising move, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced this afternoon that they mutually agreed to part ways with left back Marcel de Jong. This appears to be a ‘buy out’ as the Whitecaps noted that part of his salary would remain on the books for 2019.
The move is surprising and not at the same time. De Jong came to Vancouver in 2016, where he played in seven matches (five starts) to close out the season. It was somewhat expected that he would battle for the left back position in 2017, but was used sparingly, more as a left winger rather than a left back. de Jong doubled his minutes (779 to 1392) in 2018, seeming to have won the starting left back position over Brett Levis, after long-time incumbent Jordan Harvey moved on to Los Angeles. However, his season ended on a bit of a sour note as he had a few major mistakes in his last few appearances of the season, which led to penalty shots. It seemed like he had lost a bit of a step. Nevertheless, I thought that he was the front runner for the starting left back position; although CWilkins appeared to disagree.
While nothing is for certain, it can be hypothesized that de Jong and Vancouver agreed to part ways because it was appearing that de Jong would be occupying a backup role, on a hefty salary ($164,500 in 2018), and de Jong might have still felt he could start elsewhere.
The move also signifies a contrast in one way, as MDS has been adding several Canadians rather than subtracting. At the same time though, MDS has been going younger and de Jong is 32. At the end of the day it is disappointing to see a good Canadian defender depart from the club, as he served as an able left back, but it is also understandable and I feel that the departure will not be felt too much as far as on-field production is considered.
In his 46 appearances (38 starts) with the Vancouver Whitecaps, de Jong amassed six assists across all competitions. De Jong is also the 21st player from last season who has been released/traded/transferred/etc. There is cleaning house and then there is REALLY cleaning house!
What are your thoughts on the move? Does it leave the Whitecaps a little thin at left back or can Levis and, possibly, PC handle the duties? Levis certainly had issues finishing matches last season.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.