The MLS summer transfer window has come and gone and the final bits and pieces are just filtering through, once all the i’s crossed and t’s dotted.
There was never going to be a big splash by the Whitecaps but I did think they’d be a little bit busier than they were on the attacking front.
Some people seemed desperate for the ‘Caps to make a big move just because others around them are. Wrong thing to do. Mid-season additions are hit and miss and Vancouver’s had mostly misses. Also we’re talking about a team sitting top of the West here. We’re not exactly struggling.
Yes, we could do with someone to help out Octavio Rivero up front, but we have the best back seven in MLS as far as I’m concerned. Other teams adding players does not guarantee them any success, nor do it mean the ‘Caps will freefall by not doing so.
We’re ticking along just fine and dandy right now, but can always be better.
Carl Robinson had previously told us that he wouldn’t add just for the sake of adding right now and in the short term. He has some pieces lined up to add in January already. He also indicated that just adding squad players wasn’t of interest to him and that anyone he brought in would have to be a difference maker.
That makes it interesting to see that the ‘Caps have added Costa Rican right back Jordan Smith on loan from Kendall Waston’s old club Deportivo Saprissa.
The deal is until the end of the season and is clearly to have a look at the 24-year-old. If he impresses, the trigger will be pulled on a full transfer. What this will mean for the future of Steven Beitashour at the club will be the interesting aspect of all this.
The veteran is on big money but not producing the performances to merit it. His deal will be up at the end of the season and his reputation would see him in demand from elsewhere in MLS.
Smith has been brought in for right-back cover right now of course. Tim Parker can play and do well there, but you have to feel Robbo could see Parker as a starter in the centre back role by the end of the year.
Of course there already is a back-up for Beitashour’s position in Ethen Sampson. The South African has failed to impress this season and has been playing left back in USL in recent games.
We’ve been told that Robinson is trying to secure a loan deal to take him off the ‘Caps roster numbers and free up an international spot. I’d be surprised to see him back on the MLS roster this time next year.
Wednesday night’s Champions League game against Seattle was last chance saloon for Sampson as far as I’m concerned. He didn’t excel and looks set to mosey on off into the sunset.
The first of many depth players to move on? Make that the second, as it’s already started.
The Whitecaps also confirmed this morning that Erik Hurtado has been loaned to Norwegian side Mjøndalen IF till the end of 2015. Robinson says that he is still very much part of the club’s plans, but I don’t think we’ll have too many people pining for him now that he is in the fjords.
Erik the Viking’s move has been on the cards for a while. Robinson and Greg Anderson were seen in deep discussion with him after the game on Wednesday, with a “keep the chin up son” feel to it all. He needs to play, but not for the ‘Caps in MLS. So a great move for both parties.
Hurtado and Sampson are great examples of how shallow the Whitecaps depth actually is. Wednesday night was a frightening example that the 12 to 22 spots on the roster may not be as deep as we thought. At the very least, they can’t play together as a team.
The first warning signs were there with the performances of many of the players with the USL team. WFC2 play considerably better when the likes of Hurtado (not that he went down much!), Sampson and Rodriguez and their peers are not down there playing with them.
There’s been a couple of times this season where there’s been nearly a full USL starting eleven of the ‘Caps MLS depth guys. They haven’t done well together there. The last time was a 4-2 defeat at Portland last month where there was little fight, spirit and competency shown outside of Robert Earnshaw, Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese. So it was no surprise to see that again and a lack of any cohesion and team chemistry midweek.
Put some of these players (Parker, Dean, Froese for example) into the first team with the majority of MLS starters and they thrive. Make too many changes and chuck them all into together and it ends up looking like they met for the first time in the car park.
One of Robinson’s most interesting postgame comments on Wednesday was, ”It gave me a few answers to questions I had in my mind with some players, which was good”. Good for him, not for the players in question you have to imagine.
Cold fact is that some of the fringe guys are simply not MLS starting quality. Some will maybe do for one game at a push, but if they have to cover for a long time, there could be issues.
That’s why Smith has come in. That’s why Hurtado has, temporarily for now, moved on.
You have to think that Diego Rodriguez’s days are also numbered. I had high hopes for the Uruguayan but with, first, his injuries, and then a loss of confidence, he’s not going to be here too much longer. Factor in some poor performances in USL, the form of Parker and Dean, and Wednesday’s nightmare marking job that led to Seattle’s goal, his confidence must be close to shot just now. Shame. Nice guy and does have talent.
With Hurtado gone, it’s hard not to see another attacker being added in to the mix pretty soon. Might already have been filled and still to be announced or a free agent from elsewhere.
What is certain is that Smith’s addition and Hurtado’s departure should be the final warning to many of the ‘Caps current depth of shape up or you’ll most certainly be shipped out and replaced.