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Whitecaps FC lock up talented core to long-term contracts

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DH Vancouver Staff Feb 17, 2016 8:30 am

Over the past several years the Whitecaps have done a good job at bringing some very good players here to Vancouver, but over time it has been asked whether or not the ‘Caps would be able to hang to their stars for the long-term.

The answer to that question, for now at least, is yes they can.

Much of the Whitecaps’ success last year was due to the play of their star players, many of whom have been brought to the club by manager Carl Robinson. Under Robinson the ‘Caps have scouted the lesser travelled roads of Central and South America in search of players who they believe will make the Whitecaps a legitimate contender in Major League Soccer. Regardless of their origins, Robbo has built a squad that he believes has the right mix of talent and character to take this team to great places.

The model has worked well for the Whitecaps, who, over the past few years, have quietly built a competitive team at a fraction of the cost when compared to teams like LA Galaxy, Toronto FC, or New York City FC. In an ever-evolving league, the Whitecaps have done well to keep pace and have often punched above their weight against teams with deep pockets and the willingness to spend money on big name players.

But is it enough?

When Robinson took the helm at the end of 2013, he inherited a team that was in dire need of player upgrades at several key positions. Before the young Welshman from Llandrindod Wells could even begin preparations for his first season as a professional head coach, he was forced to deal with the challenges of L’Affaire Camilo. It was a difficult situation for the new manager, but the lessons learned then have continued to serve Robinson and the Whitecaps well today.

While Robinson has already added several talented players including Masato Kudo, Christian Bolaños, and Blas Pérez to his squad this winter, he was already looking to 2016 and beyond as early as last August when 2014 MLS Newcomer of the Year Pedro Morales signed a multi-year contract extension.

It was the first step in locking down a key member of the Whitecaps’ core, and Morales’ new contract was only the first move in consolidating and setting the foundation to build on the achievements of 2015.

The Whitecaps, who in the past few years have been extremely proactive in getting key players under long-term contracts, moved quickly this off-season to re-sign midfielder Matías Laba and defender Kendall Waston to long-term contracts. In addition, the club also finalized Cristian Techera’s transfer from Uruguay’s Club Atlético River Plate Montevideo, and also worked a deal to bring veteran defender Pa Modou Kah back to Vancouver for at least one more year.

These players all made big contributions to the Whitecaps in 2015.  Ousted, Waston, Kah and Laba were all part of one of MLS’ top defences – a corps that finished the season with 13 clean sheets and only allowed 36 goals all year long in league play.

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Techera, on the other hand, joined the team after the season was well under way, and immediately integrated with the team.  The player they call “The Bug” tallied an impressive 7 goals and 5 assists in an abbreviated season.

On Wednesday, much to the relief of Whitecaps fans everywhere, it was announced that the Whitecaps and goalkeeper David Ousted had finally reached an agreement on a new multi-year contract extension. With the team’s core locked down, and several new players on hand, Robinson and his Whitecaps are now free of distracting contract issues to prepare for the new season.

With the likes of Laba, Waston, and Ousted here for the long term, the Whitecaps now have several impact players who are in, or about to enter, the prime of their careers.

Look out Major League Soccer – you have been warned.


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DH Vancouver Staff
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