9 new players on the Vancouver Whitecaps this season

Feb 28 2020, 3:29 pm

Anticipation is building as the Vancouver Whitecaps 2020 season is set to kick-off on Saturday night against Sporting Kansas City at BC Place. Vancouver has had another busy off-season with several new faces arriving to bolster the club.

The Whitecaps’ core group of players from last season remain in tact, as Ali Adnan, Inbeom Hwang, Fredy Montero, Russell Teibert, Yordy Reyna, Jake Nerwinski, and Max Crepeau have all returned.

But new sporting director Axel Schuster did make a number of key acquisitions, beginning with a new star striker.

Forwards

Lucas Cavallini

Previous team: Puebla (Liga MX)
Nationality: CanadianAge: 27
Position: Striker
Status: Signed as a Designated Player through 2022 with an option for 2023

Lucas Cavallini is the biggest acquisition the club has ever made, as the Whitecaps forked over a rumoured $6 million transfer fee for the Toronto native.

The Whitecaps offence will go through Cavallini as he leads the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Vancouver has finally acquired a top end goal-scoring threat, and it will be up to Cavallini to show that he is well worth the price.

Midfielders

Cristian Dajome

Previous team: Bogota FC (Colombia)
Nationality: Colombian
Age: 26
Position: Winger
Status: Signed through 2021, with an option for 2022

Cristian Dajome will open up the season on the wing and is expected to provide terrific pace, vision, and creativity on the flank. Dajome’s first season is MLS could be an adjustment period as he looks to find form in Vancouver’s evolving offence focused on Cavallini.

David Milkinkovic

Previous team: Hull City (English Championship)
Nationality: French/Serbian
Age: 25
Position: Winger
Status: One-year loan, with an option to purchase

David Milkinkovic will be looking to revitalize his career after a poor spell at Hull City. The opportunity to play in Vancouver this season is a chance to boost his confidence and career.

Milinkovic has a booming shot that should produce quality scoring opportunities. He could also be an option as a secondary striker alongside Cavallini in a 4-4-2 formation.

Leonard Owusu

Previous team: FC Ashdod (Israel)
Nationality: Ghanian
Age: 22
Position: Central midfielder
Status: Signed through 2022, with an option for 2023

After paper work delayed his start with the Whitecaps, Leonard Owusu finally arrived in Vancouver this week.

Owusu’s primary role will be in the middle of the park as a durable defensive midfielder with some offensive capability. The Ghanian should make his Whitecaps debut next month.

Ryan Raposo

Previous team: Syracuse University (NCAA)
Nationality: Canadian
Age: 20
Position: Winger
Status: Signed to a Generation adidas contract

Hamilton native Ryan Raposo had an impressive preseason after being drafted fourth overall in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. He brings pace, quick agility, and another option on the wing.

Raposo is expected to be a solid depth player who could come in off the bench to wear down a tired opponents back line, late in matches.

Janio Bikel

Previous team: CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria)
Nationality: Portuguese
Age: 24
Position: Central midfielder/right back
Status: Signed through 2022, with an option for 2023

Signed on the eve of the start of the MLS season, Janio Bikel comes to Vancouver from Bulgaria’s First Professional Football League. The former Portuguese youth international will occupy an international roster spot.

“Tactically, Janio gives us the ability to play him in a couple of different positions. He is versatile, he has the right mindset, good physical abilities, and fits the profile we want here,” said head coach Marc Dos Santos in a media release. “I know the coaches he had at the Portuguese youth national teams. He’s a player who has been an important member at his previous clubs and we are very happy to have him in Vancouver.”

Defenders

Ranko Veselinovic

Previous team: FK Vojvodina (Serbia)
Nationality: Serbian
Age: 20
Position: Centre Back
Status: Loan from Serbian SuperLiga club FK Vojvodina

Ranko Veselinovic has yet join the Whitecaps as he awaits his completed international transfer certificate and work visa.

The Serbian international will look to compete for minutes at centre back along with Derek Cornelius, Jasser Khmiri, and Erik Godoy. Veselinovic could be a breakout defender who may feature in a four or three defensive formation.

Cristian Gutierrez 

Previous team: Colo-Colo (Chile)
Nationality: Canadian/Chilean
Age: 23
Position: Left Back
Status: Signed through 2021, with an option for 2022 and 2023

Born in Quebec and raised in Chile, Cristian Gutierrez can play multiple positions: left back, wing back, and as a converted midfielder. He is expected to be a depth player who can provide cover and various positions when required throughout the season.

Goalkeepers

Bryan Meredith 

Previous team: Inter Miami CF (MLS)
Nationality: American
Age: 30
Position: Goalkeeper
Status: Unknown

Bryan Meredith was brought in to back up Whitecaps keeper Max Crepeau, after the New Jersey native spent 2019 with Seattle. The MLS veteran goalkeeper should see limited time in net.