Home MLS Vancouver Whitecaps Another DP experiment goes bust: Robson, Whitecaps part ways

Another DP experiment goes bust: Robson, Whitecaps part ways


It was almost a year ago today that the Vancouver Whitecaps organized a conference call so the club could unveil Barry Robson as its new midfield general and Designated Player.

“I am very excited to be joining Whitecaps FC and to continue my career in Major League Soccer,” said Robson in February of 2012. “I am impressed by the quality of MLS and Vancouver as a club. They have a passionate fan base and a fantastic stadium in BC Place. My family and I are also looking forward to our move to Canada and the beautiful city of Vancouver this summer.”

A year later, and Robson is gone — his departure marked by a training session held without him in attendance and, later, a press release from the club that confirmed he was gone.

“We are thankful for the contributions Barry made during his time with the club. Unfortunately Barry and his family never fully settled in Vancouver, and we’ve mutually decided to move in different directions,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi in that release. “On behalf of the club, I wish Barry the very best in the next stage of his career.”

While the team will neatly fall back on the family explanation, the truth is Robson, once he was clear of his Middlesbrough commitments and began playing for the Whitecaps in July, never himself looked settled. He scored three goals in 18 matches, but one of those came on a penalty.

Barry Robson

In open play, Robson struggled to keep up with the pace of MLS, something we have seen all too often when European thirtysomethings are paid major money to play in this league. But, what he will, unfortunately, be best remembered for in Vancouver was his ability to protest everything, from referees’ calls to the abilities of his teammates. Robson, with arms raised in anger, will be the image that Whitecaps fans remember best.

They’ll also remember that when Robson arrived, the Caps were over .500 and comfortably in a playoff spot — and with him and fellow Scottish DP Kenny Miller on the scene, the Caps ended up having to fight FC Dallas for the last playoff spot and then went out in the play-in game to the eventual Cup champs, the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Robson wasn’t a factor in that playoff loss; and it’s tough on a team when the midfielders who were playing in NASL in 2011 are outplaying and outrunning the DP.

So, after a DP failure in Mustapha Jarju, for the second consecutive year the Whitecaps are parting ways with a failed big-money experiment. The Whitecaps have done very well in finding diamonds in the rough in the NASL — with the likes of Matt Watson and Brad Knighton — and through some good scouting (think Gershon Koffie). But when it comes to shooting for the stars, the Whitecaps have instead consistently shot themselves in the foot.


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  1. @sjfletch74

    January 22, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I wouldn’t consider Hassli a failed DP. He was not used right by Rennie who seems to treat a 4-4-2 setup the same way Superman treats Kryptonite. If he’d played Hassli and LeToux up front – one a target player, the other a speedster – in time he would have had a decent pairing. Let’s hope he sees the light and tries to make it work with Mattocks and Miller. I doubt it though. Miller is the same type of player has Hassli. If coaches and players are going to be looking at him to take the ball from half, beat six defenders and score they will be disappointed. He’s a finisher, and that’s it. Sadly, in Canada, we see that as a flaw.

  2. Footy

    January 22, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Not a surprise at all, really. Btw you forgot about Hassli, another one of WC’s DP’s.

    Did you hear anything about a possible move from Canada’s Rob Friend from Eintracht to Whitecaps? He is a solid targetman, very popular in the second Bundesliga, but just not good enough for the first level in Germany.

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