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Vancouver Whitecaps deal for José Aja could lead to back line reshuffle

Vancouver's acquisition of former Orlando City SC defender Jose Aja allows the Whitecaps to be patient with other moves on the back line. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

The Vancouver Whitecaps were always going to make a move for another defender. It was an expected move with centerback and captain Kendall Waston likely to join Costa Rica for the duration of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer.

But the acquisition of José Aja from Orlando City SC for $125,000 of 2019 Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), an additional $100,000 of TAM if Aja is on the Whitecaps roster next season and Vancouver’s 2021 natural second-round draft pick if Aja remains with the club during the 2020 season, has also sparked questions about the future of defender Tim Parker. 

The 6-foot-2, 195 pound Tim Parker was Vancouver’s first-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and formed a reliable partnership with Waston last season. There are now rumors all over social media that Vancouver could be looking to trade the 26-year-old to an eastern-based team following the breakdown of talks for a new contract. 

Sources suggest Parker has caught the interest of D.C. United, New York Red Bulls and the Montreal Impact. Furthermore, using the trades of Justin Meram and Sacha Kljestan for comparison, Vancouver could expect to receive TAM and General Allocation Money (GAM) in the region of $1 million for the defender — the sort of money that would allow Vancouver to further strengthen the back line.  

In the meantime, with José Aja Vancouver has brought in a highly talented defender who was at the fringes of Orlando’s starting XI last season. At 6-foot-4 and 24 years old, Aja is a similar player to Parker. Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson said he grew familiar with Aja after spotting him during a trip to Uruguay when the Caps were scouting Cristian Techera.  

“He is a big lad who is very comfortable on the ball,” Robinson said. “He will add another dimension to the group and complement our back line well, and he understands the league now after playing in MLS for 18 months [with Orlando]. We’re excited to welcome him to our team and continue to help him grow to his full potential.”

Aja started 24 of his 25 appearances with Orlando last season and his passing accuracy was among the best in the league for a player in his position. He also won 4.87 duels per game, which in 2017 saw him ranked ninth among MLS centerbacks who made at least 15 appearances. 

Vancouver already has two Uruguayans, Techera and Nicolás Mezquida, on the squad. Like Aja, both hail from Uruguay’s capital Montevideo and they should help speed up Aja’s integration into both the team and the city.

Aja’s acquisition also allows the Whitecaps to be patient when it comes to making any potential trade involving Parker.




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