The Vancouver Whitecaps reportedly made a trade on Monday afternoon and it involved one of the team’s older players.
It was reported by MLS insider Tom Bogert reported that winger Cristian Dájome has been traded from the Whitecaps to DC United for allocation money.
Har Johal of Daily Hive reported that it is for General Allocation Money The Whitecaps will receive a total of $350,000 in GAM. Manuel Veth of Transfermarkt also reports that they will also receive an additional $200,000 in GAM once Dájome plays his first competitive with DC United. Steven Goff of the Washington Post also reports the Whitecaps could receive an additional $200,000 in GAM in 2025, if Dájome meets certain performance standards.
I didn’t think he had much trade value and it is kind of surprising to see DC United pay that amount of money for him.
Why trading Dájome was the right move
Dájome has had a rough past year or so. Last season, it was kind of hard to blame him for his poor play.
Due to Sartini playing three at the back in 2022, the Colombian winger was being played as a wingback. Dájome’s offensive output and creativity was limited and he had to run back to defend a lot because wingbacks are forced to run and up and down the pitch throughout the games.
Turning a winger into a wingback worked well for Ryan Raposo but Dájome. It was clear that he wasn’t suited to play wingback and it was painful to watch him play there.
This season, the 29-year-old looked to bounce back by playing as an attacking midfielder. He showed a few flashes but he never got gained form. This season Dájome’s passes looked off, he wasn’t being a creator or putting himself in position to score goals. Sartini’s system does not include wingers but DC United does as head coach Wayne Rooney has them playing a 4-4-3 or 4-4-2.
I should note that DC United played with a a 3-5-2 in their last game which was a 3-1 win over Orlando City SC. That formation is what the Whitecaps played with last season. Are DC United going to stick with that formation with Dájome? We shall see. They did acquire a natural winger so my guess is that they go back to four at the back.
Another reason why it was best to move on from Dájome was that his contract was a major anchor. He signed a contract extension in April of 2022 and it ran until 2024 with an option for 2025. Dájome earned $815,625 a year in guaranteed salary with the contract. So cap space has been cleared up right? Well not so fast.
Unfortunately, there is a catch in this transaction as I have just learned when writing this. JJ Adams of The Province reports that the Whitecaps will continue to pay most of Dájome’s salary until the end of the season and Veth confirmed the report. This part hurts.
Well, at least the there is the $350,000 for the Whitecaps to use.
Dájome’s time with the Whitecaps
Dájome joined the Whitecaps from Colombian side Bogota FC in January 2020 for an undisclosed fee. He as on loan with Ecuadorian Serie A club Independiente del Valle before joining the Whitecaps. There he co-lead Independiente del Valle in scoring and helped them win the 2019 Copa Sudamericana. It looked like a good signing, Dájome was a proven winner and an offensive creator and it looked liked he could be a key piece to Whitecaps attack going forward.
Under Marc Dos Santos, Dájome was one of the better players on squads that weren’t that good. He brought speed and creativity. In the 2020 season, that included the MLS Is Back Tournament, Dájome scored two goals and managed three assists.
His best season was 2021. In a season which saw them play in Utah until late August, Dos Santos getting fired and Sartini coming in an interim head coach, he managed 10 goals and five assists helping the Whitecaps clinch their first playoff berth since 2017. In the 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City, he scored the Whitecaps’ only goal of the game from the penalty spot.
But as mentioned above, Dájome’s form never bounced back after Sartini was made permanent head coach.
If you want to sum up his career in a sentence it would be: A player who was a bright spot on a poor Whitecaps squad in 2020, was instrumental in their 2021 playoff push, but was never the same after.
It’s a long sentence but it works.
One thing that would be missed about Dájome is his veteran leadership especially among the young South American players Pedro Vite and Deiber Caicedo. Vite revealed in a Whitecaps player profile article last November that Dájome, Cristian Gutiérrez and Caio Alexandre felt like his parents since they were all older than him and took them in as if he was their son. Too bad for Vite as all three are no longer with the club. Gutiérrez is now with Toronto FC after being put on the waivers by the Whitecaps last March and Alexandre is on loan with Brazilian club Fortaleza.
But sports are business and frankly, letting Dájome go was easily the right move for player and the club. At DC United, Dájome could potentially find his form there. He will make his return (Barring injury, illness or suspension) to Vancouver when DC United face the Whitecaps on September 30.