The Vancouver Whitecaps traded Erik Hurtado to Sporting Kansas City on Friday in exchange for two MLS SuperDraft picks.
The Whitecaps will receive Sporting’s 2020 natural second-round draft pick and the 2021 natural first-round pick.
“We are thankful to Erik for his contributions on and off the pitch over his six seasons in Vancouver, we wish him all the best in his next chapter in Kansas City,” Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos said.
Hurtado was selected fifth overall by Vancouver in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and spent six seasons with the club. Hurtado scored 17 goals and 13 assists in 123 appearances across all competitions for the Whitecaps. He spent the second half of 2015 loaned out to Norwegian side Mjøndalen IF.
There was some surprise that Hurtado was retained at the end of the season since he played in just 12 matches in 2018, scoring two goals and an assist. Despite being one of the fastest players in Vancouver’s lineup, Hurtado made only four starts this year because former Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson often opted to bring the striker off the bench instead. In 483 minutes played, Hurtado still managed to complete 66.6 percent of his average 3.95 dribbles per game.
However, there was some thought that Hurtado would struggle even more in the new system under Dos Santos.
“This is a move that benefits both Erik and the club as we continue to make changes to our roster for the short, medium, and long-term,” Dos Santos said in a statement issued by the club Friday.
Dos Santos, in particular, likes to have players in his lineup that are press resistant and can hold onto the ball. With Hurtado averaging 10.53 losses of the ball (31.2 per cent in the defensive half), he seemed an ill fit for Dos Santos’ football philosophy.
Then there was Hurtado’s inability to score in crucial moments. The striker’s expected goals were just 0.24 last season and with only 1.32 shot per game (37.1 per cent on target) added to the Whitecaps goal-scoring woes overall.