VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps have once again turned to the British leagues for reinforcements.
On Wednesday, former Ireland international Andy O’Brien was unveiled by the club as its latest signing, shoring up a central defensive unit that has looked a bit thin at times beyond starters Jay DeMerit and Martín Bonjour.
“Not many people get the opportunity,” O’Brien said Wednesday of playing in Major League Soccer. “But the opportunity arose, and what a club to be joining.”
WATCH: O'Brien talks new MLS challenge
The 33-year-old joins from Leeds United of England’s second-tier Championship, and has played more than 300 matches in the Premier League. He wasn’t eager to provide a description of what he can bring to the table, instead saying he’ll let his game do the talking.
“I’ll leave it for others to draw an opinion,” O’Brien said. “Football is about opinions at the end of the day, but I’ve read my CV yesterday, and I said, 'It looks quite impressive on paper.’ So, if I can do what it does on paper, hopefully it’ll be mutually good for both of us.”
O’Brien brings experience in abundance, having played at big clubs such Newcastle United, Portsmouth and Bolton Wanderers.
At the international level, he has 26 caps for Ireland, but retired from international duty at age 28.
“He’ll add a lot of competition to our team,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “Competition that we’ve not really had at center back for a little while now. We’re really pleased overall about it and for me, getting a player who’s really motivated and hungry and determined to make a big impact on his career in Major League Soccer was too good of an opportunity to turn down.”
Rennie said O’Brien has only been on the club’s radar for the past 10 days after getting released from Leeds. The defender arrived on Sunday and likes what he’s seen of the city and the club so far.
“I’ve seen the stadium, I’ve seen the training facilities,” O’Brien said. “It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?”
O’Brien said he didn’t consult with any other players in MLS before making the move.
“Ultimately, it’s my decision,” O’Brien said. “I have to suffer the consequences, good or bad, of my decision. I’m a big boy now. It was important to come and view the place, and get a feel for the place. Having done that, I’m very much looking forward to the future.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.