But when coach Martin Rennie has mined the lower leagues or took on project players, he’s had some success. Brad Knighton wasn’t a top MLS keeper when he went to NASL to get minutes, now he’s Vancouver’s No. 1. Matt Watson and Jun Marques Davidson gave the Caps valuable minutes in 2012.
The Whitecaps announced the signings of three men Wednesday who fall very much into the “project player” category: Paulo Jr., Tom Heinemann and Corey Hertzog.
Paulo Jr., who the Whitecaps took off Real Salt Lake’s hands in the waiver draft, scored seven career goals for Real Salt Lake and spent part of last season on loan to the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Heinemann scored three career goals for the Columbus Crew… over parts of two seasons. But, he did score six times in 12 Division-2 matches when he played for Rennie in Carolina. Another ex-RailHawk? On a small MLS contract, the risk factor is low.
And Hertzog was a first-round SuperDraft pick of the New York Red Bulls in 2011, but scored just one goal for the team, and that came in U.S. Open Cup play. He was loaned to Wilmington of USL Pro in 2012, and scored 11 times in 20 matches. He did at Div. 3 level, he’ll have to fight to show he can do it at Division-1 level.
Clearly, these are depth players that offer low risk.