Vancouver Whitecaps FC added a bit of height and youth to their veteran-dominated defense on Friday, signing 26-year-old central defender Brad Rusin.
Standing at 6-foot-4, Rusin promises to bring a bruising element to an already physical backline after plying his trade for the past season and a half with Danish side HB Køge.
“I’m a big body, I’m good in the air, strong, aggressive, and tackle – and I distribute the ball well once I get it,” Rusin told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday. “I’m not the type of player that will try to dribble everyone. … I’m not one to make it difficult on myself and I’d rather just give it to my teammates and let them do their jobs. I’m a pretty simple player but I get the job done.”
The Crown Point, indiana, native will have plenty of familiar faces around when preseason starts later this month. As a former member of the Carolina RailHawks (above), Rusin has played under head coach Martin Rennie, assistant coaches Paul Ritchie and Jake DeClute, and alongside Brad Knighton, Matt Watson and Jun Marques Davidson -- he also played in college with Jordan Harvey at UCLA.
“I know a few of them, and I think it’s just going to help me transition,” Rusin said. “It should be good. I’m looking forward to getting back with those guys and of course meeting the other guys.”
Whitecaps FC fans who followed the team in NASL will also be familiar with Rusin, who played against Vancouver while in RailHawks colours – he still remembers the Southsiders from playing at Swangard Stadium.
“With Carolina I came up there two or three times,” Rusin said. “The fans were great, always chanting behind the goal – heckling me to be honest – I remember that!
“The city’s beautiful and I’ve heard nothing but good things, even from people who aren’t from Vancouver.”
Rusin, who sees himself as a central defender but was also deployed as a defensive midfielder under Rennie in Carolina, knows he has a challenge ahead of him with the likes of Jay DeMerit, Andy O’Brien and Martín Bonjour all impressing at various stages during the club’s 2012 playoff-qualifying campaign.
“[Centre back] is probably the strongest position on the team in terms of depth,” Rusin said. “But it’s not a bad thing. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and competing in training against those guys and giving Martin a tough decision to make.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.