Vancouver Whitecaps pounce on Toronto FC's offer to land Matias Laba in trade
Toronto FC's loss is the Vancouver Whitecaps' gain.
That's the way the 'Caps are looking at things after acquiring Young Designated Player Matías Laba from their Canadian rivals on Wednesday night in exchange for future considerations.
TFC were forced to move the 22-year-old Argentine after signing Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe and Gilberto – all as Designated Players – this offseason. Under league rules, clubs can only have three DPs on the books.
Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen had stated his intention to work out a way to keep Laba if it could be managed, but apparently there was no workaround possible.
“It was a conversation that was brought to us,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Portland, where the club is currently participating in the Rose City Invitational preseason tournament. “Obviously they have made three very high-profile signings ...
"Something had to give, and I think, reading between the lines, they did everything to keep him, but obviously it's not possible. You're only allowed three Designated Players, and we took full advantage of that.”
The Whitecaps aren't saying what they will have to give up for Laba, but have indicated it won't be anything significant.
“Every MLS team needs to be roster compliant within the next day or so,” Robinson said. “Obviously we had a little bit of space planned out for some changes to the squad. It's a great addition for us, and we haven't had to give much up.”
Laba will be expected to start alongside Nigel Reo-Coker as part of two shields in front of Vancouver's back four in their new 4-2-3-1 formation.
He's a combative player, and if that is indeed Vancouver's central defensive-midfield pairing, it promises to be one of Major League Soccer's more robust central partnerships.
“He brings something that we haven't got in our squad,” Robinson said. “He's a defensive midfield player with a great tactical understanding of that role. He plays with great intensity, and obviously he covers a lot of ground.
“He's hard-nosed, as most Argentinians are, and he's got 80 [professional] games under his belt.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.