HONOLULU, HAWAII – Marc Dos Santos is not quite done building Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s roster for 2019, but one thing is already evident: it's going to be young.
And nowhere is that truer than at the centre back position.
Whitecaps FC announced on Friday that the club has acquired Argentine centre back Érik Godoy on a one-year loan with an option to purchase from Primera División side Club Atlético Colón. The ‘Caps now have four centre backs on their roster, including Doneil Henry and newcomers Derek Cornelius and Jasser Khmiri, and they’re all 25 years old or younger.
“Erik is only 25 but he has a lot of experience,” Dos Santos said. “He’s a player that played around 170 games in the first division of Argentina. That’s a very difficult league to play in, very aggressive, very intense, a lot of pressure in every game … He’s a player that also has experience playing Copa Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana. So I think he’s going to bring some of that experience to the team.”
Dos Santos described Godoy as a dynamic, quick centre back who is strong in the air – even if at 6-foot-2 he’s not going to tower over everyone. He very much fits the profile of what Dos Santos wants in a centre back – as do Cornelius, Henry, and Khmiri.
And all four players will likely see plenty of action this season.
Dos Santos said he would expect Cornelius and Henry to get called up to the Canadian national team for the Concacaf Gold Cup, and there’s also a chance Khmiri joins Tunisia’s U-23 team for Olympic qualifying and/or their senior team for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Moral of the story: they’re all going to have a big role to play at one point or another.
“It’s a long season, a more condensed schedule, and we want to go all in and try to win the Canadian Championship, so you need to have a lot of good options,” Dos Santos said.
They just so happen to make for a fairly young assortment of players. Godoy and Henry are the most experienced of the bunch at 25 years old, while Cornelius and Khmiri are 21.
And that was partly by design.
While his primary focus was the profile of the centre back in terms of on-field characteristics, Dos Santos said he’s also looking for a group of players that can grow together.
“I understand fans and people always look at the now, now, now,” he said. “Me as a coach, I look at what the club’s going to be like in one year, two years, three years. How do you keep continuity? And when I look at guys at the age of Derek, Jasser, Erik, and Doneil, in three years from now our oldest centre backs are 28 but playing together for two, three years. That’s what we want.”
There’s been a lot of turnover this offseason, which is often commonplace when a new coach comes in, but Dos Santos certainly doesn’t want that to be a yearly occurrence.
“We need a club that has stability, and a club that has a core of players that stick together,” he added. “That’s what builds championship teams. And that’s what we want to do here.”