Gershon Koffie was one of those rare commodities in modern day football. A player who actually stuck around a club for, well, for longer than a cup of coffee really.
The second longest serving current Whitecap, behind Russell Teibert, Koffie played six seasons in Vancouver after joining the club late in the 2010 USL season.
He leaves it, for the fresh pastures of New England, as the Whitecaps all-time leader in MLS play, with 137 appearances and over 10,000 minutes played.
Six seasons. That never used to be anything special for football players. I grew up in a time where Testimonial matches were commonplace. Games and events to celebrate a player’s long lasting relationship with a club, usually ten years, raising money for the player in the process. I’ve served on a few Testimonial committees in my time.
The Whitecaps even headed over to England back in the NASL days of 1980 to play in a Testimonial match against Leeds United for goalkeeper David Harvey.
Changed days in a modern game where money and fame is king, it just doesn’t feel that players have any loyalty to clubs any more. And it’s understandable. Clubs treat players as mere commodities, so why should they get any special treatment back.
Koffie loved it in Vancouver though and was loyal to the club, the fans and the city. His emotional parting words were, “Words cannot explain my love for Vancouver. Vancouver has a room in my heart and it owns the key.” You know he meant every word.
But as much of a wrench that it always feels when a long time member of the club moves on, it was the right decision for both Koffie and the Whitecaps, and the ‘Caps got a pretty good deal out of it.
Koffie has the desire to play in Europe (he had trials in Sweden and Demark before coming to Canada) and as well as getting general and targeted allocation money for him, the Whitecaps also secured a percentage of any future transfer fees. Fees which I feel will come sooner, rather than later. Koffie has told us before that he never wanted to play in MLS for any team other than Vancouver. Now he doesn’t have much choice, for now at least.
The Whitecaps also cleared $241,000 off the cap, in a defensive midfield position which is stacked with quality and players pushing hard to come through like Deybi Flores, who has excelled so far preseason, and Ben McKendry.
Most of the freed cap space will be replaced by the salary of Blas Perez we expect. We know some will view it as shipping off a hero to bring in a villain, but Carl Robinson has brought in players that will most definitely improve the team and offer the ‘Caps something more than what they had last season.
Koffie was stagnating in Vancouver. He needed a fresh challenge to get out of it. I would have moved him on last year, as we mentioned at the time. He’s a player who’s threatened so many times to have that breakout season. We know the skill he has, the talent he brings, the goals he can score.
He’d put it all together for a game or two and then seem to fall back again a few matches down the road. It was infuriating for us, for Robinson and no doubt for Koffie himself. The consistency just wasn’t there, or able to be unlocked, to take him up to the next level.
Maybe New England and new surroundings will help bring it out of him. He’ll be a regular starter and back working again with the man that brought him over to North America from Ghanaian side International Allies, Tom Soehn.
We hope it does and we can only wish Gershon all the very best with the Revolution. Apart from when he comes back to BC Place in June of course!
He’s a great guy off the pitch. We’ve had a number of long chats with him over the years, the most recent of which was just a couple of weeks ago. He was feeling really happy both professionally and personally, felt settled and dismissed the European transfer rumours that had been swirling around during the offseason. We’d even planned a couple of fun things we were going to do for AFTN in the next couple of months! That’s how quickly football moves.
Gershon Koffie has had a stellar Whitecaps career since making his debut in a rather uneventful draw against Puerto Rico Islanders on September 5th 2010. AFTN has watched his journey every step of the way and here’s our farewell gallery, capturing some images of Gersh from all his years with the ‘Caps, from 2010 to 2016.
Good luck and goodbye.