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Tiago Ulisses: Martin Rennie's Brazilian odyssey

Martin Rennie’s squad strengthening continued today when Vancouver Whitecaps announced the signing of 23 year old Brazilian midfielder Tiago Ulisses Aparecido Eugênio Sobral.

Tiago Ulisses, as he is simply known, comes to Vancouver having previously played his short club career to date solely with Brazilian clubs.

The Santo Andre native played football as a kid in his hometown before becoming a product of the Corinthians youth system in Sao Paolo from the age of 12. Tiago Ulisses was part of their U17 teams of 2005 and 2006 and signed his first professional contract with their reserve team, Corinthians B, in 2010.
That same year he also saw time with Auto Esporte Clube.

More recently he has played in what we would personally class the sixth tier of Brazilian football for Esporte Clube Noroeste in 2011 in the Sao Paulo Serie B and in kind of the fifth tier, Sao Paolo Serie A, for Botafogo in 2012.

These are the State Championships, which fall outwith the National Championships, so it's not an exact comparison for all teams, but we feel it could be applied for these two sides' seasons. Depending on where teams finish in these State Championship and subsequent quarter finals, could see teams play in Serie A, B, C or D (we think!). See <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_football_league_system" target="_blank">HERE</a> for a confusing explanation of the Brazilian footballing pyramid. If there's any Brazilians reading this then please explain!

As is often the case with South American players, stats are sketchy at best, but from what we can find out, he played 11 games as a starter for Noroeste, scoring one goal, and has made 15 appearances with Botafogo this year without finding the net, eight of those as a starter.

The last match we can find Tiago Ullises playing in was on April 15th in the 2-1 win against Guarani, but don't quote us on that one!

Tiago is a box to box player, very much in the mould of Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso. He has a bit of aggression about him, which the Caps badly miss in the team sometimes, and a lot of pace to go with that dig.

Perhaps a little worrying is his 10 yellow cards accumulated in 22 of those games (we're missing stats on four of his apps). Potentially not a good mix for MLS on the one hand, but on the other it's the kind of aggressive player I've been crying out for. There are games when the Whitecaps really need to put themselves about a bit in the middle of the park and Tiago looks like he would fill that role very nicely.

Overall he is rated as a 5 out of 10 on the <a href="http://www.sambafoot.com/en/players/7640_tiago_ulisses.html" target="_blank">SambaFoot</a> website, so make of that what you will.

The addition of Tiago is most likely to be for depth and injury cover initially. He is listed on some sites as a defensive midfielder, but his highlight reel below certainly shows him playing in more attacking roles.

The Whitecaps picked him up fairly cheaply salarywise and will spend the rest of the season fully evaluating him in his new surroundings and the games he sees minutes in.

I wouldn't see it spelling the end of any of the first team regulars like Jun Marques Davidson of Gershon Koffie just yet and he will take his time to settle in and find his feet. At least he has his compatriot Camilo to help him feel a little more at home.

Martin Rennie certainly seems pleased to have landed him:

<i>"Tiago is a young and promising holding midfielder. He is strong on the ball and a solid tackler. The addition of Tiago offers us more depth in midfield and a player that we feel will do well in Major League Soccer."</i>

As we mentioned when we <a href="http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/content.php?3565-Defensive-lapses-show-need-for-new-depth" target="_blank"><b>revealed the transfer on Saturday</b></a>, the signing of Tiago Ulisses was completed before the MLS international transfer window closed on Friday and was just awaiting all the final paperwork to be authorized by MLS.

The Whitecaps have until the MLS roster freeze and trade deadline on September 15th to make any more additions, or cuts, to the squad, but they will now only be able to sign free agents.

Here's Tiago Ulisses in action:



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