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Found 8 results

  1. Let's start with the obvious. Sebastian Giovinco will be missed. Mostly by Toronto fans, but also by MLS fans in general. The little Italian thrilled fans for four seasons, scoring 73 league goals, many of them of the jaw dropping variety. He also won. Three Voyageurs Cups and a Supporters Shield were the appetizer to the ultimate prize. The 2017 MLS Cup championship. Dream stuff for long-time TFC fans who lived through a lot of bad football to get to that day. He was a Bloody Big Deal. And, now he's gone. Not with a bang, but rather a pout. Walking out the door in the middle of the night with an Instagram post that thanked the fans and accused the ownership of cheaping out, no longer caring about the results on the pitch. It's a time honoured strategy of players. A Blame the suits move. They're the bad guys that don't care about you little guys in the stands. Make sure to come out for my autograph signing in 2023. Only $50 for a photo! Let's be clear. Giovinco has every right to chase the paycheque. I wouldn't turn down $30m and neither would you. But, that's what's happening. Had TFC offered Giovinco the same number he'd be perfectly OK with ownership's commitment to winning. It was their evaluation of his worth that informed his opinion. This was always going to happen. This was a player that left Juventus to join TFC, effectively ending his chance at playing internationally again. If he was driven by glory he signs a cheaper deal with a Sassuolo, Chievo or Genoa, rips it up, and has 20 more caps for Italy by now. No one dreams of leaving Juve for Toronto. You only leave Juve for two reasons: for money or opportunity to advance your career further. Unless Giovinco thought his agent had misspelled Torino when he sent the offer to him he was coming to Toronto for the money. And, he's leaving Toronto for the same reason. It was always going to end this way. In terms of the football, it's going to be difficult for Toronto fans to critically evaluate whether it was right for Toronto to let him walk. Should they have matched the Saudi offer and let Giovinco retire as a TFC player? Well, he's 32. It's pretty much universally understood that attacking player's peak years are between 23 and 31. The decline after that can be sharp. So, Giovinco is, statistically speaking, past his prime years. There are outliers though. Is Giovinco trending upwards? His stats over last four years: 2015 -- age 28, 34 app, 22 goals, 13 assists 2016 -- age 29, 34 app, 21 goals, 16 assists 2017 -- age 30, 29 app, 17 goals, 7 assists 2018 -- age 31, 28 app, 13 goals, 7 assists His appearances, goals and assists figure has dropped each of the last two seasons. Doesn't seem to be out of line with statistical norms. If his production drops the same percentage this year as it did between 2017 and 2018 he would end up with between 9 and 10 goals in 2019. That's a quality MLS forward, but not a DP and certainly not a $10m a year DP. Of course it's also 10 goals TFC is going to need to replace. That's the other side of this move and one that can't be evaluated until it happens. But, by making the move today they have the DP space and money to start that process in the summer, which is generally when MLS teams make their big moves.
  2. Let's start with the obvious. Sebastian Giovinco will be missed. Mostly by Toronto fans, but also by MLS fans in general. The little Italian thrilled fans for four seasons, scoring 73 league goals, many of them of the jaw dropping variety. He also won. Three Voyageurs Cups and a Supporters Shield were the appetizer to the ultimate prize. The 2017 MLS Cup championship. Dream stuff for long-time TFC fans who lived through a lot of bad football to get to that day. He was a Bloody Big Deal. And, now he's gone. Not with a bang, but rather a pout. Walking out the door in the middle of the night with an Instagram post that thanked the fans and accused the ownership of cheaping out, no longer caring about the results on the pitch. It's a time honoured strategy of players. A Blame the suits move. They're the bad guys that don't care about you little guys in the stands. Make sure to come out for my autograph signing in 2023. Only $50 for a photo! Let's be clear. Giovinco has every right to chase the paycheque. I wouldn't turn down $30m and neither would you. But, that's what's happening. Had TFC offered Giovinco the same number he'd be perfectly OK with ownership's commitment to winning. It was their evaluation of his worth that informed his opinion. This was always going to happen. This was a player that left Juventus to join TFC, effectively ending his chance at playing internationally again. If he was driven by glory he signs a cheaper deal with a Sassuolo, Chievo or Genoa, rips it up, and has 20 more caps for Italy by now. No one dreams of leaving Juve for Toronto. You only leave Juve for two reasons: for money or opportunity to advance your career further. Unless Giovinco thought his agent had misspelled Torino when he sent the offer to him he was coming to Toronto for the money. And, he's leaving Toronto for the same reason. It was always going to end this way. In terms of the football, it's going to be difficult for Toronto fans to critically evaluate whether it was right for Toronto to let him walk. Should they have matched the Saudi offer and let Giovinco retire as a TFC player? Well, he's 32. It's pretty much universally understood that attacking player's peak years are between 23 and 31. The decline after that can be sharp. So, Giovinco is, statistically speaking, past his prime years. There are outliers though. Is Giovinco trending upwards? His stats over last four years: 2015 -- age 28, 34 app, 22 goals, 13 assists 2016 -- age 29, 34 app, 21 goals, 16 assists 2017 -- age 30, 29 app, 17 goals, 7 assists 2018 -- age 31, 28 app, 13 goals, 7 assists His appearances, goals and assists figure has dropped each of the last two seasons. Doesn't seem to be out of line with statistical norms. If his production drops the same percentage this year as it did between 2017 and 2018 he would end up with between 9 and 10 goals in 2019. That's a quality MLS forward, but not a DP and certainly not a $10m a year DP. Of course it's also 10 goals TFC is going to need to replace. That's the other side of this move and one that can't be evaluated until it happens. But, by making the move today they have the DP space and money to start that process in the summer, which is generally when MLS teams make their big moves. View full record
  3. Carl Robinson had previously told us that he wouldn’t add just for the sake of adding right now and in the short term. He has some pieces lined up to add in January already. He also indicated that just adding squad players wasn’t of interest to him and that anyone he brought in would have to be a difference maker. That makes it interesting to see that the ‘Caps have added Costa Rican right back Jordan Smith on loan from Kendall Waston’s old club Deportivo Saprissa. The deal is until the end of the season and is clearly to have a look at the 24-year-old. If he impresses, the trigger will be pulled on a full transfer. What this will mean for the future of Steven Beitashour at the club will be the interesting aspect of all this. The veteran is on big money but not producing the performances to merit it. His deal will be up at the end of the season and his reputation would see him in demand from elsewhere in MLS. Smith has been brought in for right-back cover right now of course. Tim Parker can play and do well there, but you have to feel Robbo could see Parker as a starter in the centre back role by the end of the year. Of course there already is a back-up for Beitashour’s position in Ethen Sampson. The South African has failed to impress this season and has been playing left back in USL in recent games. We’ve been told that Robinson is trying to secure a loan deal to take him off the ‘Caps roster numbers and free up an international spot. I’d be surprised to see him back on the MLS roster this time next year. Wednesday night’s Champions League game against Seattle was last chance saloon for Sampson as far as I’m concerned. He didn’t excel and looks set to mosey on off into the sunset. The first of many depth players to move on? Make that the second, as it’s already started. The Whitecaps also confirmed this morning that Erik Hurtado has been loaned to Norwegian side Mjøndalen IF till the end of 2015. Robinson says that he is still very much part of the club’s plans, but I don’t think we’ll have too many people pining for him now that he is in the fjords. Erik the Viking’s move has been on the cards for a while. Robinson and Greg Anderson were seen in deep discussion with him after the game on Wednesday, with a “keep the chin up son” feel to it all. He needs to play, but not for the ‘Caps in MLS. So a great move for both parties. Hurtado and Sampson are great examples of how shallow the Whitecaps depth actually is. Wednesday night was a frightening example that the 12 to 22 spots on the roster may not be as deep as we thought. At the very least, they can’t play together as a team. The first warning signs were there with the performances of many of the players with the USL team. WFC2 play considerably better when the likes of Hurtado (not that he went down much!), Sampson and Rodriguez and their peers are not down there playing with them. There’s been a couple of times this season where there’s been nearly a full USL starting eleven of the ‘Caps MLS depth guys. They haven’t done well together there. The last time was a 4-2 defeat at Portland last month where there was little fight, spirit and competency shown outside of Robert Earnshaw, Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese. So it was no surprise to see that again and a lack of any cohesion and team chemistry midweek. Put some of these players (Parker, Dean, Froese for example) into the first team with the majority of MLS starters and they thrive. Make too many changes and chuck them all into together and it ends up looking like they met for the first time in the car park. One of Robinson’s most interesting postgame comments on Wednesday was, ”It gave me a few answers to questions I had in my mind with some players, which was good”. Good for him, not for the players in question you have to imagine. Cold fact is that some of the fringe guys are simply not MLS starting quality. Some will maybe do for one game at a push, but if they have to cover for a long time, there could be issues. That’s why Smith has come in. That’s why Hurtado has, temporarily for now, moved on. You have to think that Diego Rodriguez’s days are also numbered. I had high hopes for the Uruguayan but with, first, his injuries, and then a loss of confidence, he’s not going to be here too much longer. Factor in some poor performances in USL, the form of Parker and Dean, and Wednesday’s nightmare marking job that led to Seattle’s goal, his confidence must be close to shot just now. Shame. Nice guy and does have talent. With Hurtado gone, it’s hard not to see another attacker being added in to the mix pretty soon. Might already have been filled and still to be announced or a free agent from elsewhere. What is certain is that Smith’s addition and Hurtado’s departure should be the final warning to many of the ‘Caps current depth of shape up or you’ll most certainly be shipped out and replaced.
  4. Rodriguez comes to Vancouver as an unknown quantity. He spent three years with La Liga side Malaga, making 42 appearances for their reserve side and scoring five goals, before returning to play with Uruguayan Primera Division side Juventud last season. He's not exactly a household name in Uruguay, never mind Canada, but his highlight video (which we'll put at the end of this article), experience and his obvious skillset certainly seems to indicate that he has what it takes to be a success in MLS. The proof will come on the pitch of course. Robinson identified Rodriguez on his scouting trip to South America in December and watched the defender play and train on three separate occasions and feel he will fit right in with the 'Caps style of play. "Excellent signing for us," Robinson told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday afternoon. "Got experience of going to Europe. He was over there for two years with Malaga. Manuel Pellegrini had recruited him. He had the background, he had the potential, without playing any games for their senior team. "One of the hardest positions to find is a central defender who nowadays enjoys defending and he's got a huge upside in him being so young." Although he feels Rodriguez still has work to do in his game, Robinson liked what he saw and what he can bring to the Whitecaps. "He's a good talker and has got a presence with him as well," Robinson added. "The fundamentals you want any player to have and to do, he does very well. His footwork is excellent, his strength and his dropping. He's a defender, He loves clearing balls and he loves putting himself in situations to block the ball from going into the goal." But what of those weaknesses? "He should have more attacking attributes than he's got," Robinson noted. "One of my observations was that he probably should score more goals. In one of the games that I watched, he probably should have scored four goals from set pieces. He will bring an element of aggression in the opposition box as well as Kendall and Octavio. It's something we need to improve on as we haven't been good at set pieces for a long time now and we'll try and address that." Robinson has often talked about bringing in players with the correct character and the right mentality and he feels he's found another such player in Rodriguez, highlighted by their first chat together. "He wants to learn," Robinson said of Rodriguez's desire to improve. "One of the first questions when I sat down with him that he aimed at me was "how can you make me better?". From a manager's point of view, that's actually refreshing to hear. A player is asking you the question as to how you can make him better and what can you do to let him progress to the next level. He's got the right mentality and mentality in this game is a major thing." So all in all, it looks like a good addition for the Whitecaps. But there are some concerns, aside from establishing an immediate chemistry with Waston. As we mentioned, the Whitecaps defence last season was strong, solid and stingy. It was also quite unsettled in the centre, as it has been for the past few years. Robinson will be hoping that will come to something of an end now, with Waston and Rodriguez marshalling the middle of the box moving forward. We know that Waston is going to pick up at least a couple of suspensions over the season and could also be missing on international duty. Let's not even look at any possible injury jinx hitting that spot yet again. There will be changes in the backline as the season progresses due to the sheer volume of games as well in MLS, Champions League and Canadian Championship action. As things currently stand, the Whitecaps are heading into training camp next weekend with just three signed centrebacks, with Christian Dean making up the trio. O'Brien and Leveron were both taking up international spots and last season took home $371,187 between them. Veteran O'Brien took home the bulk of that on $280,000 and we're led to believe that the Caps offered him the chance to return to Vancouver this season on around half of that. Whilst O'Brien loved being with the 'Caps and was prepared to take some kind of cut, the feeling was that this was just too much of a reduction for him to consider and it looks pretty certain that the former Irish international won't be back. "Over the last few weeks, we've had very, very good discussions with Andy but we've been unable to come to an agreement," Robinson sadly admitted. "We're probably going to be moving in a different direction now and Andy's exploring things over in Europe at the moment. "After having discussions with Andy and his agent on a number of occasions, there was some very good talk. We have to be a club that moves forward at some time and the time is probably now for us. Unfortunately we haven't come to an agreement, so we move on." A player, media and fan favourite, O'Brien's departure will leave a void in the locker room as well as the middle of the defence. Sure there were times last season where he was starting to look his age, but his experience helped the younger players both on and off the pitch and we would have loved to have seen him come back and take on some kind of player/coach role. O'Brien made it clear though last season that he wanted to play and he still felt he had another good season of playing in him. The chances were he was going to have more of a bench role and the Whitecaps couldn't afford to pay big bucks to someone for that. They also couldn't risk signing a big money deal and then O'Brien going down injured with a season ending injury like DeMerit. Always a risk with a 35-year-old. But O'Brien looks set to not be the only defender moving on and Robinson admitted that talks with Johnny Leveron have not progressed well, with the indication being that the Honduran international is another one not likely to be back in Vancouver for the new season. "We're still speaking to Johnny at the moment," Robinson added. "We're going to have 40 plus games next year, so I want to build a strong squad. If that means that's with Johnny, then great. If that means it's not with Johnny, then we'll move on. At the moment we're in talks with him and his agent but we're not very close to agreeing anything. We're just keeping our options open on that one. "I don't know if we'll come to an agreement or not, which is why I've made the move [for Rodriguez] now." So, the Caps are down to three central defenders, but this isn't likely to be the situation for too long. "Ideally I would like to have five centrebacks on my roster because I know it will be a very long season and there will be injuries and suspensions," Robinson continued. "I've got three [signed]. The minimum I will require is four, so I hope over the next few days we can add a fourth. There could be a fifth." Whilst the Whitecaps have some age and experience in the fullback positions through Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey, it's a fairly young central defensive mix right now. Waston is 27, with Rodriguez 24 and Dean 21. They need to have an experienced head in there and Robinson hinted that that might be coming and it won't be from overseas. "It's a tricky dilemma bringing in international players, as we all know, because we only have a certain amount of players. Ideally I like to try and bring in international forward thinking players. My belief, and my coaches belief, with Diego was too good to pass on because he brings a quality that I think we've been missing and I know that he will step up to the plate. "Having said that, I've got Kendall, who is an international centreback, and also Diego now. It is important that we do keep some core guys, some American guys, some Canadian guys, which obviously we've got a lot of younger ones of them, but domestic players. "I will be looking at trying to bring a domestic centrehalf in because I think it is important. A lot of successful teams in Major League Soccer do have a lot of domestic players. I'm not shying away from that element. It's important to have that as well but I will be looking for a domestic centreback." But before the pro-Canadian player crowd get too excited, it doesn't look like Whitecaps Residency alumni, and current Canadian U20 international, Jackson Farmer is going to be that guy just yet. "Jackson is an option for us," Robinson admitted before adding, "I see Jackson more as a USL player for us next year. He needs a little bit more experience and a little bit more games in a competitive environment. Our USL team will help us to do that. He will be coming in preseason to get a little bit more experience with us but if I can add someone that's got perhaps a little bit more experience than Jackson and allow Jackson to get competitive games under his belt in the USL, that's probably the way I'm thinking at the moment." The Caps may also look at adding a centreback from Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, with Robinson admitting that they've identified five or six possible options from their scouting. In amongst all of this centreback upheaval, it should also be remembered that the Whitecaps' offseason additions are still in their early stages. Rodriguez is only the second new player to be added so far, but he's far from the last. "I'm still looking at two or three new additions," Robinson said. "There will be more faces coming in. Can I give you a definitive timeline on that? No. But we are in the works with a few targets." So with less than two months till the new season kicks off (CBA pending of course!), what does Robinson see as still the main areas of concern in the Whitecaps squad that he needs to address? "I want to try and build this squad as strong as I can," he said. "I want to have a pool of players I'm comfortable with, whether they're young or old. There are still three areas that I'm looking at. "I'm looking in a wide area, I'm looking at the centreback area and I'm looking at the forward area as well. I've got good options in the midfield areas, I've got good options in the number 10 areas, so it's just those three areas I'm looking to strengthen. "Hopefully I'll be able to do that by the time training camp starts. If it means me starting tomorrow by getting the player I want or have identified, then I'll do that. There will be four or five news paces, including the picks we have tomorrow, coming in in preseason." The Whitecaps player report back to training on January 24th. Exactly who will be there still remains to be seen.
  5. Rivero has been playing his football in Chile's Primera Division with O'Higgins FC for the past six months, where he scored 10 goals in 16 Torneo Apertura appearances and his performances had reportedly been attracting interest from top Chilean sides Colo-Colo and Universidad. You can see some of what was generating that interest, and what the Whitecaps have added to their squad, in the highlights video below: The striker came through the youth ranks with Uruguayan club Defensor Sporting before making his pro debut with Central Espanol in the 2012-13 season, scoring three goals in his 18 games. He made another move the following season, joining CA Rentistas, where he notched 10 goals in his 17 appearances for the Montevideo side. Rivero joins the South American ranks in the Vancouver locker room and comes to the Whitecaps as a young Designated Player, which on current terms would mean a cap hit of $200,000. As always, terms of the deal and transfer fee are currently unknown, but earlier reports out of Chile indicated that the player had a $3 million transfer fee attached to him. The striker will have at least one familiar face in the 'Caps dressing room in the shape of fellow Uruguayan Nicolas Mezquida, with the pair playing together for Uruguay's U17 side in 2009. Rivero's signing comes after undergoing a medical in Mexico earlier this week and the striker will arrive in Vancouver next year where he will be officially introduced to the media. For now, he is just delighted at the opportunity the move to the Whitecaps and MLS affords him. Now, in the clamour for the Whitecaps to add a goalscorer, it will be easy to expect immediate results and pile the pressure on Rivero to perform. He will undoubtedly be expected to hit the ground running and although a new league and playing environment always takes a bit of getting used to, MLS seems to suit South American talent and he has shown that he has what it takes to perform and score in top level leagues. We'll soon see and know if that can transfer to MLS with ease. By getting this signing done early, it will give Rivero a full pre-season to train and settle into his new environment, as well as coming in match fit. He will no doubt also have to live with constant initial comparisons from some quarters with Camilo, but the 'Caps look to have added just what was missing to their attack and there could be some more to come soon. At 6'2", Rivero is the big target guy that Carl Robinson was crying out for all last season. His highlight video above shows some really nice and composed finishes, along with some headed goals. The partnership he could form with Pedro Morales and Mauro Rosales and the potential damage the three of them could do in MLS next season really is mouthwatering. The spine of the Whitecaps side for 2015 is looking very promising. With David Ousted in goal, Kendall Waston running the defence and Matias Laba just in from of him in the DM role, that's a solid defensive core. Add in Morales, Rosales and now Rivero and the attack is looking strong too. Robinson described the addition of Rivero as being "another piece to the puzzle", as he continues to build the squad he wants, adding "His skill set fits well with the way we want to play." Robbo and his assistant Martyn Pert were recently both in South America on a scouting mission. Robinson was in both Uruguay and Chile and it is believed that Rivero was his number one target from the trip. He got his man. What other pieces come out of the clubs South American and European scouting trips remain to be seen. Right now, Rivero become Vancouver third DP alongside Morales and Laba, but it has yet to be confirmed whether Laba will retain DP status next season. If he doesn't and the Caps can use allocation money to buy his salary down, that would free up another spot for Robinson to fill from his European reconnaissance. Which could be in the shape of another striker or winger. Factor in having another former DP in Rosales and that's a formidable side for what will be a formidable Western Conference next season. So well done Santa. Thanks for delivering the goods. Now, about that bike I asked for in 1978....
  6. And there's still time to continue my Carlton Cole rumours and start a new Robbie Keane one. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  7. The debates still rage on today as to whether selecting Salgado in the 2011 SuperDraft in the first place was the right decision by then boss Teitur Thordarson. The story, as we've been told it over the years, is that Salgado was Thordarson's choice. Tommy Soehn would have preferred to go with Darlington Nagbe but word had been put out, rightly or wrongly, that Nagbe didn't want to come to Vancouver. The Whitecaps clearly wouldn't want another Vancouver Grizzlies/ Steve Francis farce on their hands it was cited. For those that don't know, and I was one, Francis was selected by the Grizzlies in the 1999 NBA draft but refused to come and play for Vancouver in a PR nightmare. Whether Nagbe would have come to Vancouver and whether he would have developed at the levels that he has in Portland are all speculation and assumption now. The Whitecaps got Salgado and his four years in Vancouver were anything but stellar, but to be fair to the 21-year-old striker for a minute, injuries played a major and frustrating part to his fledgling pro career. Drafted as a 17 year old, Salgado was used somewhat sparingly in his rookie season by both Thordarson and Soehn. He made 14 appearances, five of them starts, in the Whitecaps disastrous inaugural season in Major League Soccer, grabbing his one and only MLS goal in the 2-1 loss at Columbus Crew on 30th April 2011. He often cut a moping figure on the training pitch and was involved that season in the first of his many training ground spats, that time with Residency player Derrick Bassi. Under new manager Martin Rennie, it looked like Salgado was going to have a new lease of life. Many people, myself included, had a change of opinion about him as he reinvented himself as a left winger and had some impact for the 'Caps. There were to be six appearances for Salgado in April and May, five of them starts, before two years of setbacks after suffering a foot injury while with the US U-20 team in June 2012. Those injuries restricted Salgado to just 21 appearances and 902 MLS minutes prior to this season. But then a fully fit Salgado turned up for preseason looking lean, mean and hungry to get back into the mix in the starting eleven. I liked what I saw. He looked the real deal but yet his attitude issues still plagued him. He threw preseason strops when substituted, disrespected coaching staff, was given a very clear warning in front of the rest of the squad (and me) down in Portland at the Rose City invitational and then got into an on-pitch tussle with Kekuta Manneh in an intra-squad game. Manneh was on his own team. The writing looked on the wall and Carl Robinson's patience was being tested to the max. Salgado was sent down to Charleston Battery but was then brought back when Kenny Miller headed home to Scotland and the Whitecaps found themselves with a strikers shortage. This could have been his chance but this time a combination of both attitude and performance hampered him. Robinson gave him chances. He made appearances, two of them starts, this season in MLS but looked average at best in his 198 minutes. There had been some issues off the pitch again but then came the final straw in September when he lunged dangerously from behind at Residency player Mitch Piraux in training after seeing the red mist following a non-call (as he saw it) on a Piraux tackle on him. It was a horror tackle. The kind that would have been condemned if it had been on an opposing player never mind his own teammate. Piraux was left with stud marks up his calf. Kendall Waston had to be restrained from going after Salgado and he was banished to the side for the rest of the session and shunned by his teammates. Robinson's patience had run out and Salgado was sent packing, this time to Mexico for a training stint with Tigres. His days as a Whitecaps were clearly over. Tigres made an offer to sign him but the 'Caps didn't accept right away as they weighed up their options. Salgado flew back to sort things out and find out why, and also to have his end of season exit interview with Robinson. Oh to be a fly on the wall of that one! We can only add two and two right now and hope not to make five by saying that Tigres are surely the unnamed international club that he is set to depart to. There has been interest from others in Mexico though, so who knows. Whoever it is, he's gone now and Robinson explained a little bit today about his departure. "Omar's situation is a fantastic, unique situation I'll say," Robinson told reporters at the Whitecaps front office on Monday afternoon. "The footballing side is that Omar wants to go and play somewhere. He was a little bit frustrated here and I understand it in a way but I've 26 players here that want to play every minute of every game and unfortunately that doesn't happen. "It's the best solution for all of us. For the club, for Omar, for me and I hope he goes now and plays where wants to play, which is the important thing." There is no doubt that Salgado has the ability and if he can sort out his attitude and borderline anger issues, then he could have a promising career ahead of him. If he doesn't, he'll just be another young player washed up in his mid 20's. It's all up to him now, and maybe a fresh start is all that he's needed. Well, that and actually consistent playing time. "I think all players, not just young players [do]," Robinson said. "If you move a player it doesn't mean that you think they're a bad player or a bad character. Sometimes situations dictate what happens with players. Omar's still the same player that he was when he drafted him. He's a fantastic young talent. I'm sure now he's still a fantastic young talent. He's got great potential but he needs to play. "Probably his chances here to play would have been limited so I wanted to give him the opportunity to go and play somewhere else. I wish him all the best, I really do." So injuries and attitude aside, if Salgado was such a talent, why did it not work out for him in Vancouver? "Omar showed glimpses last year when he come on and when he started one or tow games but he was frustrated at not starting every game and I understand that," Robinson continued. "I don't want players that are unhappy that when they don't start games or don't get the game time that they, you know... "I understand that in a certain way but what I need to have as well is players that respect certain situations and scenarios. There were ups and downs with Omar, like there is with all my players, so I understand it in a way but we're moving on now. Both parties are moving on." The deal with New York City is a strange one. The Caps trade him to New York but they will flip him right away to this unnamed international club once there is an agreement of personal terms, medical exam, and receipt of Salgado's International Transfer Certificate. So why did the move have to come about as it did? And why did the Whitecaps not just sell Salgado themselves to the mysterious club? Robinson couldn't go into full details but basically said that MLS rules prevented them selling the player before the Expansion Draft and if they didn't move him on then they would have needed to protect Salgado at the expense of another player that he wants to keep around. "Obviously with the expansion draft we can only protect 11 players," Robinson explained. "If we try and sell a player prior to the expansion draft then it's probably gaining an advantage, so there was deal set up with New York and we're happy with that, NYCFC are happy with that and we wish the player all the best" So does the deal with one of MLS' two newest clubs have an agreement built in that New York won't pick any Vancouver players in Wednesday's Expansion Draft? "Maybe a friendly agreement, yeah," Robinson joked when we asked him. "No, there's not an official agreement, no. I'm hoping they don't and they pass on that." We'll find out on Wednesday.
  8. I was down in Seattle last weekend for the Western Conference final second leg and after clinching their ninth final appearance, the Galaxy players and management had no doubts about what it was that saw them past the Sounders and saw their MLS dominance continue. "Experience is a factor," admitted Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. "We've been through a lot this year. I think we got better in the second half of the season to protect leads." The goalscoring hero on the night, Juninho, backed up his coach's thoughts. "We are a very experienced group, we know that," Juninho said. "We don't get nervous in moments like that. We know we have very good players and when you need a player they are there." It sometimes feels that LA just bring in big name players on a constant stream, but eight of the Galaxy's 11 starters had previously played in a MLS Cup final. Of the team that started LA's 2012 win, four started this year's final, with another two on the bench, so there's a lesser element of stability to it all as well. "We're a team full of Champions and winners and that's what separates us," Landon Donovan told reporters after the win over Seattle. "We're very proud of that fact. Some days it's the guys you expect and some days it's the guys you don't and that's what champions do. "We have a lot of guys here who have won, in their career. That's a big advantage over a lot of other teams, including Seattle. They don't have a ton of guys who have won a lot of Championships. We know how to win, in any scenario. That's what we pride ourselves on. We're not always perfect, we know that." And that's just it, they're not. LA are there for the taking over the course of the season, especially away from home. They've had sluggish starts the last couple of years, but when the going gets tough, and other teams like the Whitecaps start having summer slumps, the Galaxy seem to find another gear to kick into to push on stronger and take them over the line and into the playoffs in form. Experience does that, as does having a winning mentality at the club. Winning becomes a habit. "It's everything," admitted Omar Gonzalez. "Once you start winning everyone knows the feeling, everyone wants it more. Everyone wants another ring, another Championship, when are we going to get the next one." Gonzalez also gave a nod to team chemistry. There is no doubt that the Whitecaps had such chemistry in abundance under Carl Robinson this year. There's no signs to suggest that it is going anywhere either. The 'Caps also started to develop a strong winning mentality under Robinson this past season and that is something else that has to continue if Vancouver are going to take the next step forward and stop being the last team in the West to clinch a playoff berth and go further than a first round exit. Robinson told us on the latest AFTN podcast that he doesn't want the Whitecaps to be a team that just sneaks into the playoffs and will challenge his squad to take that next step and genuinely compete with the likes of LA and Seattle on a regular basis late in the season. Robinson has build an exciting crop of young talent at the 'Caps and he's keen to not dismantle it, but at the same time, he wants to improve every area if he can and one of the big improvements for the overall squad will be to get some more experience in there. Some more veteran presence from players who have done it and won trophies. After Kenny Miller left, Andy O'Brien did well as the veteran guy imparting knowledge and taking some of the young 'uns under his wing. Mauro Rosales did the same when he came in towards the end of the season. Realistically, both players might not be with Vancouver next season. The Whitecaps only had three players over the age of 30 in the squad that finished the season (O'Brien, Rosales and Mehdi Ballouchy). The Galaxy had ten, five of whom started the MLS Cup final against the Revolution. Vancouver do have 30-year-old Jordan Harvey and Pedro Morales and David Ousted, both 29, falling into the veteran category too, however. The Whitecaps average squad age is 23.85 years old, the Galaxy's is 26.7 years old. LA have done an excellent job in getting their talented younger players minutes and having them make a key impact alongside experienced players who know how to win trophies. It's a model that the Whitecaps need to try and emulate, albeit on a much smaller budget. It was great to see Robinson give so much of the young talent a shot this season and they will have learned a lot from their experiences. What was very evident though is how many of them are confident players and when things are going well they are flying, but when the going gets tough, they struggle a bit to cope and get themselves out of the ruts and slumps that invariably come. While Vancouver were bringing on the youth of Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks and Erik Hurtado to try and get them points late on in games, LA were bringing on Alan Gordon to get the business done. That's a difference and that's why Robinson told us that he's looking for those extra 20 to 25 goals next season to be up with the LAs and Seattles of the league. What the 'Caps young stars showed and learned in the season run-in can only bode well though and Robinson has certainly laid the foundations for what could be a very formidable Whitecaps side for years to come. He just needs those few pieces, especially in the striking department. The silly season gets underway in MLS on Monday when the trade window opens ahead of a week of drafts. Robinson told us that he'll only move someone on if he has something better lined up, so just how busy the 'Caps will be will be interesting. But the Whitecaps need to look at getting some experience in. Some wily MLS veterans and an experienced striker from overseas. The younger players in the team need it badly to continue their development and learn from players who can take the team over the finish line when it really matters late in the season. The Whitecaps have a strong and talented young core. They now need to take a leaf out of the Galaxy's playbook and mix in the experience of some players who have been there, done it and have the medals to prove it. Finding them in the salary cap land of MLS is the struggle but if Vancouver want to move on to that next level next season and be serious MLS Cup contenders, they have to make the moves and some of them will have to be at the expense of one or two of the current crop of young talent.
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