MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Why Vancouver Whitecaps FC will have no backup goalkeeper on Thursday

Vancouver - close up of GK holding a ball

UPDATE (July 22): The Vancouver Whitecaps announced on Wednesday that they had loaned goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois from the Montreal Impact for one day, allowing them to field a backup goalkeeper in Thursday morning's game against the Chicago Fire. Sirois is a 19-year-old Homegrown player signed by the Impact in March.

In a perfect storm of injuries, International Transfer Certificates, bad timing and bad luck, Vancouver Whitecaps FC will play their final group stage game at the MLS is Back Tournament on Thursday against Chicago Fire FC without a backup goalie. 

The club entered the tournament with Maxime Crepeau, Bryan Meredith and Thomas Hasal as goalies on the squad. Before their first game against the San Jose Earthquakes, Meredith exited the squad after the sudden passing of his mother Beth — returning to his native New Jersey to be with his family. 

They still had two goalkeepers for their second game on Sunday against the Seattle Sounders, but then starter Crepeau went down in pain and was subbed out. Homegrown 21-year-old Hasal came off the bench to make his MLS debut. It turned out that Crepeau fractured his left thumb and will be unavailable for the foreseeable future. 

Now, it gets tricky. 

MLS has a system for situations like this, a league-wide reserve goalkeeper pool for emergency scenarios. There is a pool goalkeeper at MLS HQ in Orlando, Charlie Lyon, and during the tournament he has trained with NYCFC and was on the bench for Sporting Kansas City in their last match. But, because Vancouver are a Canadian club and he already was registered with Sporting, he cannot be temporarily added to Vancouver's roster for their final game because they'd need to move his International Transfer Certificate. They can't because the transfer window is closed. 

“The problem is that the goalkeeper is here was used for the Sporting KC game," Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos told reporters on a video conference call. "Now we need to have a transfer window to allow this goalkeeper from the US to join a Canadian team and the transfer window is closed right now. So it makes it impossible for us to do a move.”

Additionally, before Meredith exited the bubble, league sources tell that the Whitecaps had the option to add a different pool goalkeeper, Caleb Patterson-Sewell, to their delegation but didn't, because they had all three goalkeepers available. He was offered to all the clubs on July 12th and had previously been with Nashville SC. Due to Nashville's withdrawal, he was set to leave Orlando the next day.

Meredith left the squad on the 14th and Vancouver looked into adding Patterson-Sewell, but the former Toronto FC 'keeper had already left Orlando. Because he played for Toronto, he would have been eligible to sign with Vancouver because his ITC was in Canada.

“The backup is no one," Dos Santos said for their upcoming match. "It’s going to be a situation where we’d have to go into full emergency mode, but hopefully that won’t happen.”

A series of unfortunate events have left the Whitecaps with just natural goalkeeper available for their final group stage game at the MLS is Back Tournament.