By Marc Weber
VANCOUVER — Major League Soccer’s salary cap has helped the Vancouver Whitecaps solve their centre back situation.
Canadian international Chris Pozniak signed with the United Soccer Leagues First Division side Thursday, days after negotiations between the defender and Toronto FC of MLS reached an impasse.
Pozniak, who played nine games for the Whitecaps last season on his way to European trials, left Dundee United for his hometown of Toronto a month ago when it was clear his playing time with the Scottish Premier League side would be limited.
“The original plan was to sign with Toronto,” he said. “Unfortunately we just couldn’t come to terms. They had some salary cap issues so it was best for me to start looking elsewhere.”
He didn’t have to look far.
Vancouver was in serious need of support at the back after losing Justin Thompson (quit to pursue business interests), Wesley Charles (released) and Jeff Parke (pursuing European options).
Pozniak’s familiarity with the organization made it an easy decision for the 28-year-old.
“I had a good relationship with Vancouver from my previous stint there,” Pozniak said from a Greyhound bus bound for Rochester, N.Y., where the Whitecaps take on the Rhinos on Friday night.
“They were willing to have me on board and I’m grateful for that, again.”
Perhaps not as grateful as head coach Teitur Thordarson, whose 6-7-3 side has been leaking goals this season and is in desperate need of points on the road.
After Rochester (8-5-5), the Whitecaps face bottom-feeders Cleveland City Stars (2-12-6), but in a back-to-back scenario. Then it’s a trip to the league-leading Portland Timbers (9-1-8) next week.
The club is hoping to have Pozniak’s international transfer papers sorted in time to play him Friday night, and Thordarson still plans to bring in an unnamed defender from England on trial in the next two weeks.
“We are definitely thin at the moment,” the coach said. “We have lost solid players and I’m interested in somehow getting that experience back in the group.”
When Pozniak makes his 2009 Whitecaps debut, he’ll line up along side Marco Reda in central defence. The two played together with Toronto FC in 2007 and from 1999 to 2001 with the Toronto Lynx. In between those stints, Polish-born Pozniak played in Sweden and Norway.
“You’re always going to get a solid performance out of him,” said Reda. “It’s always reassuring having him along side you.
“He’s just a solid all-around player, very versatile, and he’s going to be a great addition to the team.”
During Pozniak’s one-month Whitecaps cameo in 2008, he started eight of nine games, scoring once and adding an assist.
He’s been capped 24 times for Canada and was on the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup roster.
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