'Caps go for blend of youth, age in Expansion Draft

Vancouver looks to be competitive from day 1

Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi

Photo Credit: 
Bob Frid

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Whitecaps FC leaned into the attack when selecting 10 players in the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday.

“I think getting the right blend of experience and youth and leveraging deals to come was important,” said Whitecaps FC Director of Soccer Operations Tom Soehn. “I think in the categories we had laid out, we checked them off today.”

The Whitecaps opened their selections with young winger Sanna Nyassi of the Seattle Sounders. He was then traded to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for an international spot.

Nyassi was one of two Sounders players snagged by Vancouver, joined by central midfielder Nathan Sturgis, who earned a regular starter's role in the second half of the 2010 season.

 

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“This is just the start of that rivalry, but we didn’t do it for any other reason than we felt they were two very good players,” said Whitecaps FC President Bob Lenarduzzi.

Six of Vancouver’s selections play either striker or winger. Among those attacking players is recent MLS Cup finalist Atiba Harris. The former FC Dallas man played an integral role in his team’s success, netting four goals and two assists in 2,473 minutes on the field this past year.

Another exciting prospect is winger Shea Salinas, who’s cheeky finish against Houston finished third in 2010 AT&T Goal of the Year voting. The 24-year-old native Texan has scored three goals with five assists in his MLS career so far.

Vancouver selected Jamaican O’Brian White, a rangy striker who netted four times in two seasons with Toronto FC. “He’s physical, big and strong,” said head coach Teitur Thordarson. “He’s a striker and we’ve been looking for strikers.”

They snatched a couple more in Chivas USA striker Alan Gordon, the former Portland Timbers forward, who has 17 goals and 15 assists in his six-year MLS career, and Philadelphia's Alejandro Moreno, the most established striker chosen, having tallied 45 goals and 35 assists to his name.

However, all three were promptly traded away. White was passed on to the Seattle Sounders for allocation money. Gordon and Moreno were sent to Chivas USA in exchange for allocation money and an international spot.

Further experience will come from John Thorrington. The 31-year-old midfielder has spent the last five years with the Chicago Fire, totaling 4,263 minutes with eight goals and two assists. He’s also spent time playing in Germany and England and has four caps with the US national team.

Vancouver also snapped up San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon. The 35-year-old shot stopper is a three-time MLS Cup winner and two-time Goalkeeper of the Year. He has 74 shutouts in his nine-year MLS career.

“When you look at the experienced guys that we got with John Thorrington and Joe Cannon, they fit the bill of guys that I thought we could compliment our team with,” explained Soehn. “Having been through the national team, championships, and situations like that that, we felt could really translate well into the character of our team and also teaching our young guys.”

Only one true defender was taken, Kansas City’s Jonathan Leathers. The native of Athens, Georgia saw limited action in a reserve role this past year, playing 356 minutes with one assist during the 2010 season.

“It’s a balance of everything,” Soehn said. “Obviously getting Jay DeMerit signed was a big piece. We also feel like there’s going to be [defensive] compliments down the road, which we know is going to be a vital part of making sure that we’re a competitive team right from the get go.”