The MLS roster freeze is on Friday, September 15 and the Vancouver Whitecaps are not done making moves.
Argentinian journalist César Luis Merlo first reported early Wednesday morning that Whitecaps striker Sergio Córdova is leaving Vancouver and will sign with Turkish club Alanyaspor. It will be a permanent deal and Córdova will sign a contract with Alanyaspor until 2027.
The Atheltic’s Tom Bogert confirmed Luis Merlo’s report.
As for the fee, Manuel Veth of Transfermarkt reported that the Whitecaps are getting some big money for Córdova. Given the fact the Whitecaps paid 2.1 million Euros from FC Augsburg to acquire him and their 2024 first-round pick and $300,000 in General Allocation Money to acquire him, it is good they are getting a large chunk of change back for him.
The Whitecaps will be off the hook from his $981,818 base salary. He was the second-highest-paid Whitecap behind Gauld.
The transfer isn’t official yet and according to JJ Adams of The Province, it looks like the Whitecaps will be signing Canadian international Junior Hoilett on a free transfer. Once those transactions become official, Nathan Durec and I will cover them and will talk about it all on a new episode of the Terminal City FC Podcast which should drop on Friday night.
Sergio Córdova’s time in Vancouver: Short and underwhelming
Córdova had the tools to become a good striker for the Whitecaps. He’s big, physical, has some pace and has good build-up play. Plus, he had proven experience in MLS. He scored 11 goals with RSL last season and two of them were in the playoffs. Córdova’s nine regular season goals came in the second half of the season.
But despite having the tools, he did not live up to expectations. Córdova had a rough start. Sure, he had to adapt to a new city and a new system. There was also an early season hamstring injury that played a part, but Córdova did not score a goal until July 12. That was against Austin FC at BC Place in the 72nd minute and that was the match-winner in a 2-1 win.
The Venezuelan international followed up with a late goal in a 4-2 win over LA Galaxy and a brace against Club León in the Leagues Cup. It looked like he was starting to find his form. However, it looks like the Whitecaps had seen enough of him.
Córdova will be remembered for missed chances, not creating chances and not pressing enough, which is something head coach Vanni Sartini wants in his system.
Brian White and Simon Becher have outperformed him. White is tied with Gauld with 10 goals for the team lead (In MLS play) and Simon Becher has scored four goals. All of those came from his hot early season start which saw him score four in 87 minutes. He has cooled from his hot start but Córdova’s departure gives more opportunity for Becher and Levonte Johnson.
A designated player spot is now open. It wouldn’t be surprising if they give the DP spot to Richie Laryea once his loan from Nottingham Forest ends on December 31.
It is fair to say Córdova has been a massive disappointment. He leaves Vancouver with four goals and one assist in 26 games across all competitions. He simply wasn’t a fit.
Córdova has gone down as one of the worst or arguably, the worst DP signing in Whitecaps history. His time in Vancouver can be summed up with the scene from The Simpsons when Abe Simpson walks in and walks out in a matter of seconds.
Other failed DP signings from the Whitecaps
After Córdova’s departure was reported, I sat down on my couch and did some thinking. I was specifically thinking about other DPs who signed with the Whitecaps and failed to live up to expectations.
I sent out a Tweet asking who were the worst DPs in Whitecaps’ history and I got some good answers. So since we just looked at Córdova’s time with the Whitecaps, let’s look at some other DPs who flopped.
Some of you might think I’m making this name up, but if you are a die-hard Whitecaps fan, you may remember Mustapha Jarju.
The Gambian international became the first African DP in the history of MLS when he signed for Vancouver from Belgian club RAEC Mons in July 2011. He was their second-ever DP after Eric Hassli signed with them a few months earlier.
But the man they call “Toubabo” made no impact. He only played 10 games with the Whitecaps and had no goals or assists in 449 minutes.
In January of 2012, Jarju and the Whitecaps mutually agreed to part ways. He went back to RAEC Mons and played two more years there. Jarju signed for Irtysh Pavlodar in Kazakhstan in June of 2015 but he did not play a game for them. He terminated his contract in September and then filed a lawsuit against Irtysh Pavodor due to compensation and unpaid wages.
Jarju went back to Belgium in 2016 and signed with Sporting Hasselt and that season there was his last as a professional soccer player.
In January 2013, the Whitecaps terminated a DP contract and that was the second year in a row they did that.
Midfielder Barry Robson joined from English Championship side Middlesbrough. He got off to a good start scoring his first goal with the Whitecaps in a 2-2 draw against David Beckham and the LA Galaxy.
Robson scored two more goals with the Whitecaps but you could say that first goal was when his career in Vancouver peaked. He never felt settled in Vancouver and was more known for yelling and flailing his arms around like a wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man.
He did not look like a fit on and off the pitch. It turns out, Robson and his family were never fully settled in Vancouver.
Robson joined Sheffield United (who were in the English League One at the time.) after leaving the Whitecaps on a short-term contract. That summer, he went back to his homeland of Scotland and signed for Aberdeen where he spent the final three years of his career.
Today, Robson is Aberdeen’s head coach.
Brek Shea had his moments and did score some nice goals but Whitecaps fans may remember him being very frustrating. It was clear he was not worth a DP spot.
The midfielder/left-back was acquired from Orlando City SC in a trade which saw Giles Barnes head back the other way in February of 2017. He was named a DP pretty much right away.
Shea was a player who was brilliant one moment and poor the next. For instance, he would score a nice goal and then he would give the ball away or miss a sitter or make a badly timed tackle. Even as a DP, he would often start games on the bench and come on as a substitute. But it felt like almost every time Shea came on, the Whitecaps conceded a goal
Shea was let go after the 2018 season and spent 2019 with Atlanta United before spending the next three seasons with Inter Miami. The American international announced his retirement last May.
The man they call “En Tanque” signed for the Whitecaps in December of 2019 and he was their most expensive signing ever. The ‘Caps paid a little over six million dollars (USD) to acquire the Canadian striker from Puebla of Liga MX.
I already wrote about Cavallini’s time with the Whitecaps on the day they did not pick up his option and you can read it here. But if you don’t want to for whatever reason, I’ll do a quick summary.
Cavallini was a disappointment. Instead of scoring goals, he would pick up yellow cards. In his three seasons with the Whitecaps, he would go on cold stretches and not do enough in the build-up.
Cavallini signed for Tijuana last winter and in 12 games of the Liga MX Clausura, (second half) he managed two goals and two assists. This season, he played four games in the Apatura (first half) but had no goals or assists.
There are others I have missed, but those four came to mind.
Unfortunately, Córdova joins the list of wasted DP spots and in a few years, Whitecaps fans will say “Hey remember him?” as they do with past DPs such as Robson and Jarju. Out of all the signings Sporting Director and CEO Axel Schuster has made since he came to the Whitecaps in 2019, Córdova takes the cake for the worst.