VANCOUVER, B.C. – Four months can change a lot.
On July 12, the idea of the Vancouver Whitecaps leaving newly-signed Designated Player Mustapha Jarju unprotected for the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft while protecting Long Tan would have seemed unlikely, to say the least.
But that’s exactly what the club did on Monday, following Tan’s impressive end-of-season run of form and Jarju’s lackluster start to life in MLS.
While Tan started three of the club’s last four games, Jarju made only one appearance in those matches, showing just how far the Gambian slid down the pecking order as the season wrapped up.
“[Tan] ended the season strong, and he’s got a lot of qualities that translate well to MLS,” director of soccer operations Tom Soehn told MLSsoccer.com by phone Monday evening. “He still has a lot to learn and grow, through, but we definitely see potential there.
“His work rate on the field – he was a bit inconsistent at times – but that’s natural for a young guy. I think you saw him mature the last few games and really develop.”
Jarju’s omission from the protected list wasn’t taken lightly though, according to Soehn, who also stated that while there was collaboration with regards to forming the protected list, new coach Martin Rennie had the final call.
“They’re all hard decisions,” Soehn said. “You can only protect 11 and you’ve got a roster of 28, 29, 30 and you can’t protect everybody.
“You have to make difficult choices and you have to prepare and come up with ideas of who might be attractive for another team.”
In this case, that team is Canadian cousin Montreal Impact, which will join MLS for the 2012 campaign. The Quebec-based club will have its choice of 10 players left unprotected from the existing 18 MLS squads on Wednesday. Montreal can select a maximum of one player per club.
“It’s tough for me to say what other teams’ needs and likes are,” Soehn said when asked about what players were most at risk. “We’re hoping that we don’t lose anybody.”
In addition to Jarju, the Impact will have the choice of Michael Boxall, Jeb Brovsky, Joe Cannon, Bilal Duckett, Greg Janicki, Jonathan Leathers, Alexandre Morfaw, Jay Nolly, John Thorrington and Peter Vagenas.
Joining Tan on the protected list are Davide Chiumiento, Jay DeMerit, Atiba Harris, Jordan Harvey, Eric Hassli, Gershon Koffie, Carlyle Mitchell, Alain Rochat, Shea Salinas and Camilo.
Homegrown players and those on Generation Adidas contracts such as Bryce Alderson, Russell Teibert, Michael Nanchoff, Omar Salgado, Philippe Davies, Nizar Khalfan and Brian Sylvestre are exempt from the draft.
- Shea Salinas won't have to complete a hat-trick of expansion seasons after making the club's protected list. The Texan played for the Philadelphia Union in 2010 before joining the Whitecaps in 2011.
- Soehn's recent scouting destination was somewhere in Africa. "We're looking to get stronger in the middle of the field, get some experience and complement it with some talent that can take the place of some of the older guys," Soehn said of the types of players he was looking at.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon