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Vancouver Whitecaps sign Michaell Chirinos, ship Felipe to DC United

The Whitecaps signed Honduran winger Michaell Chirinos from CD Olimpia and sent Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins to DC United in separate transactions Tuesday.

The Vancouver Whitecaps signed Honduran national team winger Michaell Chirinos on loan from CD Olimpia through the end of the season. The club has an option to acquire him at the end of the loan.

Vancouver signed Chirinos, 24, using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), which was freed up after Lucas Venuto left the club for FC Santos last Thursday. 

“Michaell is a humble and hardworking player who can play on the right or left side of the field,” Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos said in a statement released Tuesday. “This loan gives us an opportunity to bring in and evaluate a player who has done well in Honduras and Mexico, leagues that have similar characteristics as MLS.”

In Chirinos, the Whitecaps hope to have found a player who can significantly improve what has been the worst attack in the Western Conference this season. The Whitecaps have scored 25 goals in 25 games this season and have struggled with their link-up play in the final third. 

Chirinos has shown in the past he can be an attacking threat. The 5-foot-5 winger scored 33 goals in 115 appearances for CD Olimpia in Liga SalvaVida, the first division in Honduras. He spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Lobos BUAP in Mexico’s Liga MX, where he started in 33 games and scored six goals. 

Of all current Whitecaps players, only Fredy Montero’s 10 goals exceeds the seven scored by Chirinos over the last calendar year. Chirinos had 4.65 attacking actions per 90 minutes during that time. Only Lass Bangoura (5.99) and Yordy Reyna (5.8) were more productive in that department in the current Whitecaps squad. 

Vancouver’s biggest problem this season has been passes into the final third. Heading into matchday 26, the ‘Caps are bottom of the league with 41.64 passes per 90 minutes played into the final third. 

Chirinos, however, completed just 63.24% of his final third passes last season, which ranks him 13th among current Whitecaps players. And his 2.24 passes into the final third are just a fraction better than goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau’s 1.89 final third passes per 90 minutes. Of all field players, only Joaquín Ardaíz has done worse in this department with 0.72 passes into the final third per 90 minutes. 

In other words, the ‘Caps have added a player who can improve their product in the final third. But when it comes to getting the ball there in the first place, they may need to look elsewhere. 

Felipe sent to DCU

Just as the Whitecaps announced Chirinos’ acquisition, the Washington Post reported that DC United acquired Felipe Martins. In return for Felipe Vancouver has acquired $75,000 of 2020 Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) and a 2020 international roster spot.

“We are thankful to Felipe for his contributions at the club and wish him and his family all the best,” said head coach Marc Dos Santos. “This wasn’t an easy decision. We are making this move looking at the big picture, with an eye on the future, as we continue to build out our roster.”

Felipe earned $500,000 in base salary with the Whitecaps this season, according to the latest figures released by the MLS Players Association, and the trade will free up cap space for the Whitecaps in anticipation of further moves down the line either this summer or in the off-season. 

Felipe, 28, scored twice and assisted on seven goals over 47 games with the Whitecaps since coming to Vancouver in 2018. The Brazilian midfielder has also featured with the New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact since coming to MLS in 2012.

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