Whitecaps’ winter of discontent
On Sunday night, ESPN columnist Jeff Carlisle reported that a seven-figure transfer fee deal is close to being completed between Vancouver and Queretaro FC — the Mexican club the Brazilian striker Camilo has chosen to join despite still being under contract in MLS. (Photo credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
On a day where their Canadian rivals Toronto FC unveiled a pair of star acquisitions, the Vancouver Whitecaps found themselves on the verge of officially losing their leading scorer in what’s increasingly becoming an embarrassing off-season.
From a prolonged coach-hiring process — that saw them ultimately promote their assistant after a month-long search — to a lack of activity to now the inevitable exit of Camilo, the disappointments have been constant.
On Sunday night, ESPN columnist Jeff Carlisle reported that a seven-figure transfer fee deal is close to being completed between Vancouver and Queretaro FC — the Mexican club the Brazilian striker has chosen to join despite still being under contract in MLS. The Whitecaps are left with little to no option if they want to get something back for losing their best offensive player.
Granted, the blame for this controversial split does fall mainly on the 25-year-old and his agent's complete disregard for a legally binding contract — which was to keep Camilo in Vancouver through the 2014 season — but the Whitecaps also forgot to make sure their star player was happy in the first place.
After failing to make the playoffs and firing Martin Rennie, the team's focus was turned to finding a new manager, instead of their Golden Boot-winning player and negotiating a potential new raise from his $250,000 deal.
Now, the 'Caps are in a no-win situation with Camilo forcing their hand — bolting to Liga MX for supposed greener pastures and leaving a huge offensive void for this Vancouver side.
As 'Caps president Bob Lenarduzzi put it last week, the forward's actions are "unacceptable and inappropriate."
But that still leaves Vancouver having to answer to their fans, many of whom have taken to social media already to voice their disapproval towards the team in a winter of discontent.
It certainly doesn't help that Toronto has made a huge splash, adding four notable names since the season end. In addition to the return of Canadian midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, players Ontario-bound include Brazilian striker Gilberto, England international Jermain Defoe and U.S. international midfielder Michael Bradley, the latter two introduced Monday.
Meanwhile, the Whitecaps have added 30-year-old midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy in the Re-Entry draft.
There's still the MLS SuperDraft to look forward to on Jan. 21, but time is running short for new head coach Carl Robinson and his seemingly downgraded squad.
The club was also rumoured to be pursuing Canadian forward Rob Friend, but he signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Monday.
Training camp starts Jan. 25 and assuming in all likelihood that Camilo won't be present, it only adds to the abundance of questions and concerns leading up to the franchise's fourth MLS campaign.
At the moment, things aren't looking too bright for the Whitecaps.