He’s watched Major League Soccer from afar, but come July, Barry Robson will jump right into the thick of it as a Designated Player with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
“The league is rising and it’s getting better all the time,” Robson told reporters during a conference call on Thursday. “I can see some good players coming over now, and it’s something that’s been in my mind for a while. As soon as I got the offer from [Vancouver], it was a no-brainer for me.”
The Inverurie, Scotland, native turned down offers from a number of clubs, including an extension from his current club, English League Championship side Middlesbrough FC, but said once he “heard something might happen with Vancouver, it was always my first choice.”
The 33-year-old, who can play across midfield, in the hole or even as a fullback, says age won’t slow him down. It certainly hasn’t this season, as he’s scored eight goals and added four assists in 26 matches.
“I’ve still got a lot of hunger and fitness still in me, and I don’t envisage myself stopping playing soon,” Robson said. “I didn’t want to come over there and not be able to contribute, so fitness-wise, I’m as good as I’ve ever been.
“I want to come over here and try and make a difference for Vancouver and show everybody that I’m a good player, I can help my teammates, and I can try to help the club get up the league as far as they can.”
Robson knows Vancouver’s assistant coach Paul Ritchie from their time at Dundee United FC in the Scottish Premier League, where they played together from 2004 to 2006.
“He’s very humble – he thinks about the team more than himself,” Ritchie said. “That’s a major quality that Barry has, along with being a fantastic footballer. His work ethic is fantastic. He’s a fit, fit lad, who has got great quality from set pieces and wide areas and he’ll be a fantastic addition to our squad.”
Robson’s summer arrival will allow the club to evaluate where he’ll be needed most, and his ability to play in multiple positions will provide plenty of flexibility, according to head coach Martin Rennie, who watched the player during his December scouting trip in the United Kingdom.
“From the perspective of adding someone in July, I think it’s a good thing for us,” Rennie said. “At that point, we’re going to know exactly where we see Barry fitting in, exactly what position we want him to play.
“The good thing about a player who’s versatile is you don’t have to make those decisions ahead of time. You can even change it from week-to-week, if you have to. The kind of personality he is, the kind of professionalism he brings, I just think it’ll add more to our group and make it even stronger.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.