Carl Robinson - in match - 2015

VANCOUVER, BC – Major League Soccer is open for business.

Today marks the opening of the league’s secondary transfer window, which allows teams to both acquire players currently under contract in another country and make trades within MLS.

The window closes on August 6, meaning MLS teams have just under a month left to bolster their roster ahead of the playoffs (unless they’re signing free agents, which can happen until the roster freeze on September 15).

The ‘Caps, who are currently tied for the top spot in the Western Conference and tied for second in the MLS Supporters’ Shield Race, made only one move during last year’s summer transfer window, acquiring Mauro Rosales from Chivas USA in exchange for Nigel Reo-Coker.

Instead, they made a splash in the offseason.

So how does Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson see things playing out a year later?

“Will we be signing an Andrea Pirlo? Probably not, no,” he said on Tuesday. “But we’re always looking to try and add. I’m very content with the group we’ve got. There’s a great spirit in amongst them. If someone becomes available that I think would add to that, not harm or hurt that, then I’ll look to add it. And I can do because there are things on the table that I can maybe look at, but I’m in no rush.”

Another thing Robinson has to ponder this year is the league’s new “Targeted Allocation” mechanism, which provides all MLS clubs up to $500,000 in additional allocation money to invest in their rosters outside of the player salary budget.

This allows teams to acquire or re-sign players to a salary higher than the league max ($436,250) – without actually exceeding the allocated three Designated Player slots.

Alternatively, teams can use the new mechanism to convert a Designated Player (DP) into a non-DP by “buying down,” which would free up another DP slot.

The ‘Caps are currently at the DP max with Matias Laba, Pedro Morales, and Octavio Rivero. 

“We’ve got three DPs at this club that I’m happy moving forward with,” Robinson said. “I think they’re great assets for the club and an important part of what I’m trying to do here. They’ll remain. If we can bring in another player to help us, we will. If we can’t, we’ll reassess in January again. It’s not just about now and the next six months, it’s about next year, the year after, and the year after.”

That’s something we saw last year, when Robinson signed Rivero in the offseason after identifying him at least six months prior. The signing has proved fruitful, too, as the 23-year-old Uruguayan leads Whitecaps FC with seven goals thus far.

That doesn’t mean that the ‘Caps won’t make use of the Targeted Allocation Money during this summer window – Robinson just said it won’t be a “knee-jerk reaction” that harms the team’s long-term plan.

“I won’t do that and we won’t do that as a club because we’re building something here that we know is right,” Robinson told reporters. “There have been a number of targets that we’ve looked at closely, but again, it has to be right with the model that we’re building at the club here, and it will be. Will it happen? I’m not sure. There’s a possibility it could, but there’s an option we could do that.”

Either way, the new rule should make for an intriguing summer transfer window – one that has already seen the likes of Frank Lampard (New York City FC) and Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy) enter the league.

LA is also rumoured to have interest in Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos.

“That’s the way the league is going,” Robinson said. “Bringing in top players benefits everyone, and it’ll benefit this group. But I won’t change the plan I have for this group, whether Gerrard or De Santos come in or whether they don’t. There is a plan in place and we won’t deviate from that plan.”

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