VANCOUVER, B.C. – This offseason promises to be a busy one for the Vancouver Whitecaps as Martin Rennie looks to put his stamp on the team. The new coach has a little more room on his roster to tinker with after Jeb Brovsky, Nizar Khalfan and Bilal Duckett moved on Wednesday through the MLS Expansion Draft and Waiver Draft.
Brovsky, a 23-year-old the ‘Caps selected as their third pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, was the first to go, as the Montreal Impact snagged him in the Expansion Draft.
Of the three players departing, the Colorado native was one Vancouver actually wanted to keep.
“Jeb had a fairly good first season in MLS,” club president Bob Lenarduzzi told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesday evening. “He played a little in midfield, and then at the latter stages of the season did a good job for us at right back. Ultimately, with the system the way it is, you’re going to have to leave someone unprotected that you’d prefer not to lose, and Jeb would be one of those, and we are disappointed he has been taken.
“At the same time, I understand that’s the whole rationale behind the Expansion Draft, just to try to give a new club coming in a chance to build the core of a squad.”
Shortly after Brovsky was taken, the Waiver Draft took place, with the Whitecaps making Khalfan and Duckett available.
The Philadelphia Union opted to gamble on Khalfan, making him the only player taken in the Waiver Draft, with the hope that the glimpses of brilliance he showed can become more regular occurrences. The Tanzanian started on opening day before eventually losing his spot and falling completely off the radar after Tom Soehn took over as interim coach in late May.
Khalfan eventually fought his way back into the team late in the year, scoring a spectacular goal against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 6.
But that sort of performance wasn’t a regular enough occurrence.
“Nizar has been a player for us that has had an inconsistent season,” Lenarduzzi said. “There are times when he looks like he could be one of the better players in the league, and then there are times when he’s non-existent. In the end, it’s always going to be Martin’s call. Based on what we’ve seen and what Martin saw, we felt that even with the potential that Nizar demonstrated, we could ultimately upgrade in that position.”
Duckett, Brovsky’s former teammate at Notre Dame, was also placed on waivers by the club. The Georgia native never seemed to establish himself, playing only 226 minutes over four league matches. He went unselected in the Waiver Draft, meaning he’s now free to sign anywhere.
“Bilal is a player that has demonstrated he has great athleticism,” Lenarduzzi said. “But we didn’t see enough from him throughout the season. He’s someone that has potential, but Martin’s feeling was if we could get someone in that is ready to step in and contribute right away, he’d prefer to do that as opposed to wait to see if Bilal actually achieves the potential it looks like he’s got.”
And although Brovsky was certainly an asset the ‘Caps were hoping to keep, the departure of the three players allows Rennie more room to make changes ahead of next season.
“We finished bottom of the league last season,” Lenarduzzi said. “We need to get better. We feel we have a core of players we can do that around, but we need upgrading in a number of positions. The movement that’s taking place right now is all designed to ensure that we are a competitive squad next year and that we’re fighting for a playoff spot.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.