New beat for Caribbean striker - The Province
If having led the moderately obscure Malaysian Super League in scoring doesn't sell you on new Whitecaps forward Marlon James, perhaps a couple of Canadian coaches can.
The club announced Tuesday the signing of the 32-year-old to a two-year contract. He brings a resume that reeks of scoring prowess -- 47 goals in as many matches in all competitions last season.
But some will question the relevancy of those statistics, given the nature of the competition.
His worth, though, is verified by Canada head coach Dale Mitchell, whose side beat James' St. Vincent and the Grenadines squad in World Cup qualifying this summer.
And the Caribbean player is endorsed by former Canadian boss Frank Yallop, who aggressively pursued James for his MLS side, the San Jose Earthquakes.
"He was certainly their most dangerous player," Mitchell said of the two June meetings, where James scored the only goal against Canada.
"He's got good speed, he's powerful, he turned well with the ball, and he's also good in the air. We made an adjustment to get Adrian Serioux matched up against James. Adrian, who has played regularly in MLS, rated him. James will do well."
James thought he was a Whitecap in August, but his transfer from FC Kedah -- which he twice helped to the Malaysian treble -- hit a snag.
He said Tuesday there was plenty of interest from North America and elsewhere, but the Whitecaps topped the list because of his dealings with director of professional teams Greg Anderson, as well as a positive visit to Vancouver in October.
It was relatively warm at the time.
"I'm very pleased I signed with Vancouver," James said from the Grenadines island of Bequia. "There were options, -- especially San Jose -- who are very disappointed. They really wanted my signature."
James wouldn't predict his production for the coming season, but it's no secret there will be pressure to score after the departure of Eduardo Sebrango and his 12 goals to Montreal.
Target man Charles Gbeke will be back, and the residency kids, Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Dever Orgill, will be in the mix. Coach Teitur Thordarson hasn't ruled out signing still another forward, either.
"I need to get into the team and make myself comfortable. The coaching staff has to get me into the system," said James, who has a countryman in Whitecaps defender Wesley Charles.
They played together in Ireland, as well as for their national team. James plan to arrive in Vancouver on Jan. 15.
© The Vancouver Province 2008