The Vancouver Whitecaps have acquired veteran centre back Florian Jungwirth (32) from the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for 200k in GAM. If certain incentives are met this figure could rise to 300k. Jungwirth has a Green Card so even though he is German he will not occupy an international roster slot.
Jungwirth is currently in his 5th MLS season, having spent most of his career in Germany. He has played 35 Bundesliga games and 109 2. Bundesliga games. He has played mostly as a centre back or a defensive midfielder but has also turned out as a right back 42 times.
Not every signing can be as exciting as Ryan Gauld. So this whole article is basically just a long winded way of saying “sure, he’s fine, why not?”
The biggest part of Jungwirth’s game that stands out is his passing ability. He is well above the league average in almost any passing stat you care to mention.
He also does quite well in stats that have to do with carrying the ball up field. These stats are a little boosted by the fact that he sometimes plays in the midfield but overall he is clearly very comfortable with the ball at his feat.
Defensively he does not make a huge number of tackles or interceptions. But he is credited with a lot of successful pressures and ASA’s G+ metric says he’s really good at “interrupting.” So he seems to be quite good at shepherding the opposition into giving the ball away, even if he himself is not usually the one taking the ball.
One obvious weakness from looking at his data is that he does not provide very much threat from set pieces and is not that great in the air in general, winning only 60.5% of his aerial duels. This is in the 39th percentile for MLS centre backs.
That’s about all i’ve got to say on him as a player. He’s fine. The squad management aspect of this move, however, is a little more interesting.
The Whitecaps recently loaned out centre back Derek Cornelius. So in a way this move can be seen as a trade of those two players for the rest of the season. Jungwirth is better than Cornelius in just about every conceivable way. You are welcome to go compare their FBref pages if you don’t believe me.
Jungwirth also compares favourably against Ranko Veselinovic. So it’s fair to say the Whitecaps have improved in the immediate term with this trade. But the fact that they are trying to improve in the immediate term is interesting.
Jungwirth is on a big contract at $567,667. In 2019 he signed a “multi year contract” so that contract probably expires either this year or the next. Essentially this is an NHL trade deadline style rental. Normally these moves are made by top teams who feel they need one extra push to win a championship. The Whitecaps are obviously not that. In order to make the playoffs they need to play at about a 1.8 points per game pace the rest of the way. That’s going to be really hard to do but the addition of Ryan Gauld and 9 home games remaining provides a glimmer of hope. Over the past two months the Whitecaps have been adding veterans and loaning out younger players who are on the fringes of the first team. We have seen Brian White and Jungwirth come in with Cornelius, Theo Bair, David Egbo, and (soon) Gianfranco Facchineri going out on loan. To me this seems to indicate they are doing everything they can to win now and make that crazy run happen. Will it work? Only time will tell.