The Vancouver Whitecaps continued to bolster their roster, today focusing on their back line with the addition of centre-back Bjørn Inge Utvik.
Utvik comes on a two-year deal with a club option for an additional third year. He will take up an international roster spot.
“I’m just happy to be here now,” Utvik said. “I talked to the coaches and the sporting director a few weeks ago and got a really good feeling.”
Most recently with Sarpsborg 08 in the Eliteserien in Norway, Utvik captained his club last season while adding four goals and one assist over his 27 appearances.
Speaking about MLS, Utvik said the league was “more open and individualized than in Norway.”
“I will come to Vancouver and be myself,” he said. “One of my qualities as a player is the leadership. I want to talk out on the pitch to organize the team well both offensive and defensive.”
The six-foot defender comes at a time when the Whitecaps were looking to add depth to their centre-back options. He will join the ranks of Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon, Mathías Laborda, Javain Brown and Luís Martins.
Head coach Vanni Sartini praised the versatility and tactical awareness of his new defender.
“Bjørn is a very good player, a lot of experience in a league like Norway,” Sartini said. “And he played in his career both in a back four and a back three. In a back three, he played both in the middle of the three and the side of the three. He’s very good at building up. He has a good right foot…He’s a guy from a league that’s very tactical, and all the video that I see, all the games that I see, his tactical discipline was on point.”
Sartini also noted his ability in aerial duels, which he felt would benefit set pieces.
The home opener for the season is still a month away, but Utvik may get his chance to play with his new teammates in the Champions Cup. The first match of that competition is Feb. 7 against Mexican side, Tigres.