New Vancouver Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos announced his first major squad moves on Monday.
Goalkeeper Sean Melvin, defenders Doneil Henry and Brett Levis, midfielders Nicolas Mezquida, David Norman Jr. and Yordy Reyna, and striker Erik Hurtado all had their options picked up.
In total, the Whitecaps now have 17 players under contract for the next season. Players who were already under contract for 2019 include defenders Marcel de Jong, Jake Nerwinski, and Kendall Waston, midfielders Michael Baldisimo, Simon Colyn, Felipe, Efrain Juarez, and Russell Teibert, as well as strikers Theo Bair and Anthony Blondell.
Whether all of those players will stay with the club remains to be seen, however. Kendall Waston announced Oct. 23 that he would like to leave the club. Meanwhile, Efrain Juarez is a candidate to be sold this winter, and the Whitecaps are looking at a possible loan destination for Anthony Blondell.
“This is the first of many offseason moves for the club as we build our roster for the coming season,” said new Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos. “Every decision we made today and will make in the future is based on our model of play, which defines the type of team we want to be.”
The club also confirmed it would not exercise the options of goalkeepers Stefan Marinovic and Spencer Richey, defenders Jose Aja, Roberto Dominguez and Aaron Maund, midfielders Marvin Emnes, Aly Ghazal and Brek Shea, and striker Myer Bevan.
“Now we’re only putting all of our energy into what the roster is going to look like.”@PeteSchaad goes one-on-one with Marc Dos Santos in a wide-ranging interview about today’s roster moves.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) November 26, 2018
“We’ve had to make a number of tough decisions, and we’re thankful to each of the players moving on for their contributions to the club. We’re excited about the roster flexibility we have as the process of identifying new targets is well underway,” Dos Santos added.
Goalkeeper Brian Rowe, defender Sean Franklin, midfielder Cristian Techera and striker Kei Kamara are currently out of contract. Midfielder Jordon Mutch has completed his one-year loan with Whitecaps and is under contract with English Premier League club Crystal Palace FC.
Whether Kamara will come back remains to be seen.
“It is a situation that we are assessing and taking [everything] under consideration. But our decision is always going to be towards what we want to be not in one year only, not in six months, but what do we want to look like in one year, two years consecutive moving forward,” Dos Santos explained in an interview on the Whitecaps FC website.
When asked whether Techera will come back, Dos Santos was somewhat coy, saying, “What does he also want for the future? Cristian is also a player that is looking for other venues, for other opportunities also, so it has to be both ways. There is going to be players that we want, and they might have other plans, and players that we don’t want and they want to be here, it will go like that both ways. We need to want the player, and the player needs to be committed 100 percent to be playing for the Whitecaps.”
The final question was about goalkeeping. Marinovic was the No. 1 keeper last season and is now going to leave the Whitecaps.
“It was about me profiling what the Whitecaps need as a goalkeeper and what does it mean to use a foreign spot,” Dos Santos said. “When I looked at the goalkeeping position, I thought we could get the job done with a domestic goalkeeper. In my view, and this is personal if you go after a strong foreigner, who makes a lot of money, it has to be an international someone, you go after Gigi Buffon, Iker Casillas guys that totally change the market for the club, so I think we totally go in the right direction with this one.”
Dos Santos was quite clear that today’s decisions were about to build the foundation on how what he envisions to be the future of the Whitecaps. At the same time, many more squad changes are expected throughout the winter.
“We only are putting energy into what the roster is going to look like, we are talking with other clubs, we are careful with foreign players, and yes there is going to be international players coming in,” Dos Santos said. “But then you always calculating about the best opportunities you have in December versus the best opportunities you have in June.”
The Whitecaps head coach admitted that December could be a difficult time to sign new players given that many international leagues are only halfway through the season, “but sometimes you get unique opportunities. Sometimes if you wait four to five months you have better options.”
Hence, what Whitecaps fans saw today was the first of many moves made by a club that will likely see a complete rebuild. With many of the big earners gone and the millions earned from the Alphonso Davies transfer, this rebuild will not be a matter of months.