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  • Dunfield trade just another sign of how things have gone wrong


    It wasn't supposed to end like this. When Vancouver native Terry Dunfield returned to his hometown in 2010 to suit up for the Whitecaps after stints in England with Manchester City, Bury, Worchester City, Shrewsbury Town and Macclesfield Town, it seemed like the perfect story. Dunfield's English career started with plenty of promise, but it was soon derailed by injuries and he wound up seeing limited duty in the lower divisions. A return home looked like the perfect cure for him, and he soon became a crucial part of the Whitecaps' Division II side. He continued his promise at the MLS level this year, and although things didn't work out well for the team as a whole and Dunfield <a href="http://www.theprovince.com/Dunfield+dismay+says/5070946/story.html">struggled along with the rest at times</a>, the solution the Whitecaps eventually arrived at was yet another in a season of odd moves. In the end, they <a href="http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/content.php?1986-Nana-Goodbye">traded him to Toronto</a> Thursday <a href="http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Dunfield+gets+boot+traded+Toronto/5102968/story.html?cid=megadrop_story">for allocation money and future considerations</a>.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]

    Axing Dunfield for so little in the way of tangible returns certainly doesn't look good from many standpoints, and one is the Canadian soccer perspective. Dunfield was one of the fan favourites on this squad, and also was the only player with any sort of B.C. connection. The Whitecaps only have <a href="http://www.whitecapsfc.com/players">three other players</a> on the senior squad born in Canada at the moment, including Quebec-born Alain Rochat (who has played for Switzerland internationally). Philippe Davies (Quebec) and Russell Teibert (Ontario) are now the only guys on the Whitecaps ever likely to see any time with the Canadian national team. It's also worth noting that Dunfield's effort and grit made him <a href="http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Reaching+tipping+point/5100841/story.html">a favourite for many fans</a>, not just his passport.

    In and of itself, trading a player like Dunfield isn't necessarily a critical problem. It's generally more advantageous for teams in any league to field the best possible squad than one stocked with local or national heroes, and if there was clear evidence that trading a local hero made the Whitecaps a better team, it would be easier to support. That evidence doesn't exist at present, though, and it's not going to exist for a while if it ever does. Sure, Dunfield hasn't had a perfect season, but there's a fair bit to suggest he was still one of the team's most effective central midfielders when healthy. At the very least, he was certainly a guy who should be in the mix, starting some games and perhaps coming in in relief in others. The Whitecaps' midfield, which has been a troubling area for much of the year, is weakened without him. In a season where so much else has already gone wrong and where there are few positive signs at the moment, that's hardly a good thing.

    That's not to say that the Whitecaps got nothing in return. Allocation money and future considerations (perhaps a conditional draft pick) could certainly help them down the road, but it all depends on how they use them. It's worth pointing out that this isn't a rebuilding team trading an aging veteran to build for the future, though; Dunfield's only 29, and his current level of play would suggest he can continue to be an effective contributor at the MLS level for years. Vancouver may be looking to the future here, but Dunfield could have been a part of that too.

    The rationale here could be that Dunfield was one of Teitur Thordarson's guys and didn't fit in new head coach Tom Soehn's system. Dunfield <a href="http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Dunfield+gets+boot+traded+Toronto/5102968/story.html?cid=megadrop_story">started 11 of the 12 games he played</a> for Vancouver this year, but nine of those starts came under Thordarson, and Soehn left him on the bench for the team's loss to Colorado Saturday. If that's the logic here, though, that just adds to <a href="http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/top/blog/canada/post/With-Thordarson-firing-are-Whitecaps-on-TFC-s-p?urn=top-358832">the case that firing Thordarson midway through the team's first MLS season was the wrong move</a>. At the moment, they're rebuilding what was already a rebuilding roster, and they've just axed one of their solid players and fan favourites for zilch in immediate returns. We'll see down the road if this move pans out once it's determined how Vancouver uses the allocation money and future considerations, but at the moment, the indications aren't particularly promising. For now, it looks like just another low point in a season full of them.

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