The Vancouver Whitecaps have traded left-back Alain Rochat to D.C. United in exchange for a 2015 second-round draft pick and a conditional pick in 2016.
The 30- year- old signed in Vancouver back in 2010, when the Whitecaps were still a division two side, and spent most of his first year in Vancouver on loan with FC Zurich. Since returning from loan, Rochat has been the starting left-back of choice for managers Teitur Thordarson, Tom Soehn and Martin Rennie. However, this year Rochat has been struggling to find the form that makes him one of the best left-backs in the MLS. At his best, Rochat is a master distributor of the ball and difficult to beat one on one. He’s making runs down the left hand side playing in quality balls into the box and chasing attackers preventing them from doing the same. This season we’ve seen some uncharacteristic giveaways and lapses at the back leading to untimely goals. It hasn’t been his best year in a Vancouver uniform, but very few could have predicted him being traded.
Rochat adds European experience to the Whitecaps, after having spent the majority of his career in France and Switzerland. He’s played in the UEFA Champions League against the likes of Real Madrid and AC Milan and has helped one of the top Swiss teams, FC Zurich, win two league titles. He’s been a leader in the Caps’ locker room serving as captain on a few occasions last year. He had still been playing some good football as a holding midfielder, but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough for him to keep his place in the Whitecaps starting lineup.
Factor in his expiring contract at $190,000, the emergence of Jordan Harvey and Greg Klazura and some flexibility in the midfield, Rochat was the odd man out.
“We’ve got quite a number of players that can play left back and quite a number of players who can play a similar role in midfield,” said Whitecap manager Martin Rennie.
Rennie also mentioned that in a cap based league, “there’s lots of juggling of numbers and salaries and so on. When you do make a move, it does open up opportunities to make others, if you want to.”
Perhaps we may see a designated player come into Vancouver before the end of the mid-season transfer window later this summer.
For now, look for Jordan Harvey to get the start at left-back this Saturday as the Whitecaps look to beat Seattle for the first time in MLS play in an all important Cascadia Cup clash.
Ryan Lehal is a sports columnist for Vancity Buzz, and can be followed on Twitter via @Ryan19L
Feature Image: Derek Leung, Getty Images