BURNABY, B.C. – After more than five seasons in Major League Soccer, Dane Richards knows his time to win a championship in North America is ticking down.
The Jamaican international, who joined the Vancouver Whitecaps in July, will be off to join English second-tier side Burnley in January following the completion of the upcoming MLS Cup playoffs, giving him one last shot at MLS glory this fall.
“Right now my focus is on the Whitecaps,” Richards told MLSsoccer.com after a training session at Burnaby Lake field on Tuesday. “I’ve never won the MLS before in all my seasons. I want to push as far as I can to try and win an MLS Cup before I leave.”
When asked if the move would be a distraction for the Whitecaps during a crucial stretch, Richards (above, right) reacted by saying he actually tried to keep the move from going public, but ultimately the clubs involved were compelled to make the announcement.
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“That’s why I didn’t want to release [the information],” Richards said when asked if the pending transfer could affect his focus. “Because the media are going to get involved and all of that stuff, asking me all kinds of questions. I knew about this a long time ago.”
Barry Robson knows a thing or two about Richards’ situation. He signed on with the Whitecaps while still a member of English side Middlesbrough and he played during an ultimately unsuccessful promotion push knowing he’d eventually be moving on. The Scotsman backed his teammate to get on with the task at hand in Vancouver, as he did across the pond.
“It shouldn’t make any difference,” Robson said. “You’re here and you’re doing your best for your team and your teammates where you’re at. I’m sure Dane will be fine. He’ll work hard for the team and do his bit, and I’m sure he’ll have a successful career in England.”
It’s a sentiment shared by manager Martin Rennie, who feels the closing of Richards’ time in the league could act as a motivating factor for the player.
“It’s quite common,” Rennie said. “Players will know where they’re going to move at the end of the season and players just get on with it. It’s a good opportunity for him to go play in England and we wish him well with that. But I think he wants to finish the season well and make a big impression here.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.