VANCOUVER, BC - Whitecaps FC announced their first roster moves of the offseason on Monday, including personnel decisions that featured an overwhelming majority of the roster returning for the 2021 MLS season.
"We’re really happy that we can continue with the majority of our squad, and we feel comfortable and confident that with this squad, we are able to make the next steps," CEO and sporting director Axel Schuster told the media. "We absolutely see the need to add a few pieces as well, and we will do that."
OVERWHELMING MAJORITY RETURNING
The 'Caps currently have 25 players under contract for next season. They had 18 players under contract at this stage last offseason, and 17 in the year before that.
Also of note is the youth of the returning group, with 14 players aged 23 or younger.
"It's part of our DNA and that’s what we want to be as a club. We want to develop players, and we also want to give Canadian talent a fair chance," said Schuster.
The 'Caps will be looking to continue the trend from the past season. Canadians counted for 37 percent of minutes played by VWFC players in the 2020 regular season. Across MLS, the 'Caps made up 30 percent of Canadian minutes played, ahead of Montreal Impact with 20 percent, and Toronto FC with 18 percent.
SCHUSTER SHARES UPDATES
Schuster also provided updates on a number of players, including defender Andy Rose and forward Fredy Montero.
"We didn't take (Rose's) option and that was something both parties agreed on because we thought that it was not the best solution for his next contract with our club," said Schuster. "We are now in an ongoing process to find a better construction of a contract for him, but there's no question that we would like to keep him."
Montero's current contract runs through the end of 2020, and the club and his representative are currently still in talks.
"I just had contact with his agent (on Monday morning). We are working on it," said Schuster. "We are in negotiations and each side is fighting a little bit for their position but I can tell you that the communication is very open."
Winger David Milinković, who spent the last season on loan to the 'Caps, remains on the market for a new club, as Schuster had initially disclosed previously.
"It would not be a concern because he has shown that he could help this team," said Schuster of the possibility that they do not find a suitable destination. "We played our last game with (Cristian Gutierrez) and Ali (Adnan), and we have the idea of signing a left-footed fast winger as a Young DP. (David) is aware of our squad construction and that he has to fight for his position in the squad next year (if he returns). We are hoping to find a solution together with a new club. If not, then we can see him adding some goals to our team next year."
One player the 'Caps said farewell to is fullback/winger Georges Mukumbilwa, who will not have his option exercised and will be eligible for the MLS End-of-Year Waiver process.
"Georges was a difficult one. We want to have to keep some roster spots open for new talent that is now coming up," said Schuster. "We think that that we can help him if he goes somewhere else where everything is a fresh new start. We want to give him all the benefit and help that he finds the right organization where he gets the minutes he needs to grow."
Up next for Whitecaps FC is recruitment, a process that is well underway. The 'Caps are looking to add a number of difference-makers, with an open Designated Players spot, as well as three Young DP slots to fill.
"We have the big chance to add good quality to the existing squad," said Schuster. "We have a good group of people in our scouting and recruiting department. We have several meetings every week and we are going through profiles. We will do the right things and we we will find the right players. We are already approaching some of them, but it's a process and if you compete for this quality that we want to add, you're never alone in the market, and it costs always a little bit more so that's a reason why we also take a little bit more time to make some of these decisions."
Stay tuned to whitecapsfc.com and @WhitecapsFC on Twitter throughout the offseason for more news and updates.