VANCOUVER, B.C. – Barry Robson’s arrival is just weeks away, and Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi is anticipating a healthy dose of leadership from the fiery Scotsman.
The attacking midfielder, who will join the Whitecaps as a Designated Player this month, will be eligible for his first match on July 4 when the club travels to face the Colorado Rapids.
“One of the more important qualities that he’s going to bring to us is leadership,” Lenarduzzi told Vancouver radio station CKNW 980 on Tuesday evening. “That’s something that we’re lacking right now – an example was the Amway [Canadian Championship] quite frankly.
“When we played in that game … that game against Toronto, we were flat, we didn’t offer up any resistance, we weren’t able to lift our game up – we needed someone on the field that game to start, if not grabbing people by the scruff of the neck, certainly verbalizing, ‘OK, this isn’t good enough, this needs to be better.’
“Someone like Robson coming in is going to provide that quality to our squad.”
The midfielder is in fine form too, according to club co-owner Jeff Mallett, who recently took in a live match between Derby County (another club in which he has an ownership stake) and Robson’s Middlesbrough in April.
In that match, Robson captained 'Boro to a 1-0 win over Mallet’s Derby, but knowing the versatile midfielder is heading to his other club took some of the pain away.
“Jeff was able to watch Robson play in that game, and he was glowing about the kind of performance he put in,” Lenarduzzi said. “He’s a very, very good two-way midfielder, good defensively, very good in the attack. He can sit in front of the back four and direct traffic from there, or can play in a more attack-minded role, in behind the strikers.”
Vancouver fans will have to wait a while to see Robson play though – the ‘Caps don’t play at BC Place in July until the 18th, when the club hosts defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy.
“It’s not a bad thing,” Lenarduzzi said. “He’ll be away with the team and will be able to familiarize himself with his new teammates, but he’ll have four away games before he plays his first home game.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.