The Vancouver Whitecaps have an idea of what they want to do with Paulo Jr. And the Brazilian's future in British Columbia could be wide open.
The club attained the rights to Paulo Jr. on Friday, selecting him with the 10th pick of Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft. While the 23-year-old's natural position is striker, he has played wide as well – and this could be where he fits in with the Whitecaps given their lack of a natural right-sided midfielder.
“I think [head coach Martin Rennie] saw him play on the right side with Miami FC and feels that might be his strongest position,” Greg Anderson, the Whitecaps director of professional teams, told MLSsoccer.com on Friday evening. “If we are able to get something done with him, that’s probably the position that Martin would be looking at for him.”
The club now has seven days to tender the player a “genuine” offer in order to secure his rights for next season.
Paulo Jr. played in 22 matches in 2012 for Real Salt Lake, scoring two goals and adding two assists. Twelve of those matches were starts.
While he's a player that could bolster Vancouver’s lineup should he come to terms with the club, the side also said farewell to one of its original MLS Whitecaps, John Thorrington.
The 33-year-old spent much of his two seasons with the club on the sidelines due to a number of health problems related to a back injury, but was a key figure when healthy, often starting in central midfield. Even when unavailable to play, he was seen as a mentor, and had spoken of his enthusiasm for helping the club’s younger players as they made their push for first-team minutes.
“John was an important piece of our club for two years, and we really enjoyed having him here,” Anderson said. “We wish him all the success with his next club.”
Anderson said the club had extensive talks with Thorrington and his agent, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement that worked for both parties.
“We had a lot of discussions with his agent trying to make something work,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get to that point – but we did have a lot of discussions over it.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.