Whitecaps finally find a forward
By Jamie Dodd
With just a week before their season begins, the Vancouver Whitecaps finally found the first rate striker they’ve been looking for. The club announced that they’ve acquired Fredy Montero on a one-year loan from Tianjin Teda in China. Finding an elite goal scorer was the number one priority for the Caps this off-season, and it’s something they’ve been missing since Camilo fled to Mexico after 2013.
Montero might be the best signing in the Caps’ MLS history. The Colombian international has scored everywhere he’s played — in South America, in MLS with Seattle, and in Portugal with the historic club Sporting. His MLS experience (he’s the Sounders’ all-time leading scorer) will be music to the ears of Caps fans. It’s notoriously difficult for new players to adjust to the peculiarities of MLS. The turf, the travel, and the physical play all take some getting used to. Montero should have no such problems, and should be able to contribute right away.
It’s remarkable how one sharp signing can transform the mood around the club. While there’s still questions on the back end and in midfield, Montero should be the centerpiece of a dangerous attack. In Giles Barnes, Kekuta Manneh, Nico Mezquida, Alphonso Davies, Christian Bolaños, and Yordy Reyna, Caps manager Carl Robinson has no shortage of interesting attacking pieces to slot around Montero. It’ll be interesting to see if Robinson can find the best combination, but it’s a good puzzle to have to solve.
Bringing in Montero seems to answer the Caps’ questions up top, but they’re not a finished product just yet. Central defense seems a bit thin after David Edgar’s injury, especially given Kendall Waston’s penchant for red cards, and a midfield duo of Matías Laba and Andrew Jacobson is underwhelming.
Fortunately there might be good news coming in midfield, too. Robinson admits the team is still looking to add players, and rumours are swirling that the Caps’ target is Canadian international Atiba Hutchinson, currently with Besiktas in Turkey. MLS Commissioner Don Garber added fuel to the fire when he visited Vancouver recently and conspicuously announced that the league would consider subsidizing the transfer fee for high profile Canadian players.
Hutchinson is Canada’s best player, and there’s no doubt that MLS and the Whitecaps would love to have him. Laba and Hutchinson would be maybe the most physically imposing midfield in MLS.
Even if the Hutchinson rumours never amount to anything, the Caps are still in dramatically better shape than they were last week. With Fredy Montero on board, Carl Robinson and Caps’ fans alike can breathe a sigh of relief after a long off-season.