The Vancouver Whitecaps got a well-deserved pat on the back from Major League Soccer after selling Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich for a record fee.
Now that same hand is giving them a decidedly pointed push.
At the State of the League address a day before Saturday’s MLS Cup clash between Atlanta FC and the Portland Timbers, league commissioner Don Garber had some advice for a Whitecaps front office that sold the teenaged Davies in a deal last July that could reach US $22 million.
“Greg Kerfoot and his colleagues need to use the money to bring in someone who is as exciting as Alphonso.”
It’s not quite a warning shot, but more along the lines of opening your jacket to show off your holster. The meaning is clear: It’s time for the team to get its house in order.
While publicly effusive in his praise of the team in a September visit to Vancouver, Garber was reportedly far less complimentary in his private conversations with the front office and owners.
He’s also done an about-face on his vision of the league as a top-flight destination for top talent, to striking a balance between keeping MLS stars and selling budding ones overseas.
“We have been buying for so long, and then as we’ve gone through the analysis, it’s hard to justify that investment and the investment that we have to make in player development,” Garber said. “We’ve got to have something that turns this model around, or else it’s going to be unsustainable.
”The Whitecaps, for their part, have vowed to spend big-ticket money to bring in difference-making players this season, and the hiring of coach Marc Dos Santos has resonated positively with a fan base hungry for success like their Cascadia Cup foes.”
That the Timbers are in the league championship isn’t lost on Caps fans, who have seen their direct rivals — Portland, Seattle and Toronto — win the past three titles.
Sunday will give them an inkling as to what the immediate future will hold, with the MLS half-day trade window opening.
Dos Santos did advise patience when speaking to Postmedia on the MLS option deadline day last month, pointing out international transfer windows don’t line up with the MLS, so any potential big-name trades would have to wait until the new year.
After Sunday, free agency and the MLS Expansion Draft both happen on Dec. 11, a day before the MLS Waiver Draft and three days before the MLS Re-Entry Draft.
It does appear that Dos Santos’s plan includes harvesting domestic talent, which bodes well for the currently signed Homegrown players like Simon Colyn, Michael Baldissimo and Theo Bair.
It’s expected the team will announce the acquisition of goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, a Quebec native, from the Montreal Impact in return for allocation money.
The 24-year-old had 15 shutouts in 31 games while on loan with the USL’s Ottawa Fury, and was named the league’s goalkeeper of the year.
He was coached by Youssef Dahha, who was announced as the Caps keeper coach on Friday morning, along with Phillip Dos Santos and Vanni Sartini. As the team’s twitter account pointed out, it’s the first time in the team’s MLS history the Caps have had three Canadians on the first-team coaching staff.
It appears the team has heeded the fanbase’s call for more domestically produced players and coaches. Now the question is: will it listen to them — and Garber — and sign a marquee player?
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