Axel Schuster on Whitecaps rumours and 2021 MLS season negotiations

Jan 22 2021, 5:31 pm

A new year is upon us and the Vancouver Whitecaps are gearing up for the 2021 season, whenever that may be.

But before that can happen, there are several unanswered questions that still have to be answered.

While other Major League Soccer teams are busy bringing in fresh faces, Vancouver has yet to sign a new player during the off-season. The Whitecaps made four selections during the 2021 MLS Super Draft on Thursday, but without a start date for the season, there’s no sign of when those players and current Whitecaps players will report for training camp.

Where is Deiber Caicedo

The Whitecaps have been closing in on Colombia youth international, Deiber Caicedo, as the 20-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Vancouver.

A creative and dynamic winger, Caicedo would add another attacking dimension on the flank. The transfer from Colombian side Deportivo Cali was thought to have been announced by now, but it’s not yet across the line. A work visa could be the source for the delay in Caicedo’s transfer to the Whitecaps.

“There is nothing official we can confirm,” Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster explained this week. “The pandemic makes some logistical things much more complicated. We are working on a lot of things.”

Is Ali Adnan leaving Vancouver?

The future of Ali Adnan in a Whitecaps kit has been a source of speculation.

Adnan is on a substantial salary for an attacking full-back that hasn’t always shown a strong commitment to defending. While the Whitecaps have no pending plans to move Adnan to another club, there’s always the possibility he and his agent could orchestrate his own move out of Vancouver just like former Whitecaps favourite, Camilo Sanvezzo.

“I haven’t even seen the rumours,” Schuster told Daily Hive. “We are planning with him, he is under contract. He was an important player for us last season. If somebody is interested in him, I hope he is reaching out to me and not only to Ali because it is not only Ali’s decision, but it would also be our decision. Right now there is no reason why I would consider something like that.”

What about David Milinkovic?

The Whitecaps brought David Milinkovic in on loan from Hull City last season, but it did not work out. Despite activating a clause to permanently purchase Milinkovic from Hull City for a reported $100,000, Vancouver has decided that it’s likely best to move on from him in 2021.

“We have been in talks and we are still in talks with several options,” Schuster explained. “I would also feel comfortable to say, that it is most unlikely that he will come back to us.”

Both parties are looking to find a solution that fits everyone.

Andy Rose likely to return

Despite having his 2021 contract option declined, veteran midfielder Andy Rose is expected to return to the Whitecaps for his third season with Vancouver.

“I would feel comfortable to say there is a solution,” Schuster revealed. “It’s not official, but it will come quickly the information. I’m happy to say that we found a solution with Andy. As soon as everything is official we will announce how it looks like.”

The 30-year-old Rose brings much needed leadership to a young Vancouver squad. Rose’s ability to play multiple positions in the middle of the park brings a level of versatility to the roster.

MLS vs MLSPA

Major League Soccer is in another tug of war with the MLS Players Association over the start of the season, pay cuts, and the possibility of the league activating a force majeure clause.

MLS owners reportedly lost $1 billion in revenue during the 2020 season. The players, meanwhile, are frustrated by having to potentially renegotiate another CBA agreement with a massive pay cut that could last multiple seasons.

The back and forth became more contentious after MLS Commissioner Don Garber released a letter on Thursday.

Garber said in the letter that owners met with the Players Association in early January to talk about the plan for next year.

“There are so many things we are waiting for already,” Schuster said. “There are some negotiations ongoing. This is the time to stay patient and wait. These negotiations are between the players union and MLS, it’s something where we should have no opinion and we should not participate.

“I totally trust that MLS will find a solution at one point. I remain optimistic that we will play a full season this year.”

The MLSPA wants the season pushed back from the usual start date of early March, but MLS owners appear to disagree and want the season to start on time just like any other season.

Pushing the season back to May or June would allow a lot more fans in Canada and the US to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, which is clearly helpful for the ability to host fans in stadiums. A delay could also help all three Canadian teams avoid having to relocate to play home matches in the US again.

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