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Vancouver Whitecaps sign midfielder Jon Erice

Oct 28, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps fans celebrate Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Alphonso Davies (67) during the 67th minute of play against the Portland Timbers during the second half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps remain busy on the transfer market. On Tuesday the club acquired experienced Spanish midfielder Jon Erice with the use of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

The 5-foot-9, 32-year-old midfielder joins the Whitecaps from the Spanish La Liga 2 side Albacete Balompié. Erice has agreed to an MLS contract through 2020 with a club option for 2021. He will occupy an international roster spot and officially join the club’s roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC), work permit, visa and medical examinations.

Erice, 32, joins the Vancouver-based MLS franchise after spending the vast majority of his career in his native Spain, including more than 200 matches in La Liga 2. Erice has made more than 300 appearances between the top three divisions of Spanish football but has also played in Cyprus and Greece. 

The midfielder joined Albacete in August 2017 and has made 56 appearances for the club in La Liga 2. In the 2018-19 campaign, Erice has started all 18 of his appearances while serving as co-captain for Albacete, who is currently in contention for promotion to the top division.

“Jon brings a wealth of experience to our club and has played consistently in highly competitive environments,” Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos said.

Erice has been an important part of Albacete’s promotion push this season — the club is in fourth place behind Granada, Málaga and Deportivo La Coruna — and his transfer has taken many fans in Spain by surprise. 

After all, Erice not only provided leadership to his side but was also a key component in Albacete’s midfield play. The midfielder ranks third in the league with 241 progressive passes played and overall completed 82.7 percent of his on average per 90 minutes 47.41 passes this season. 

“He has a strong understanding of the demands we require in the defensive midfielder position. He’s an excellent distributor of the ball, technical, tenacious, and another important piece as we continue to build our roster,” Dos Santos said of the Whitecaps’ latest signing. 

Judging from his heatmap, Dos Santos’ assessment is on the money. Erice is a defensive midfielder who likes to control his side’s defensive third. Despite playing deep in his half for most of the season, Erice averaged 9.26 passes to the final third per 90 minutes, of which 65.9 percent found their way through — highlights that he can contribute to his sides attacking play. 

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