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Defender O’Brien moves from Leeds to the Whitecaps

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Andy O’Brien
The central defensive pairing of Jay DeMerit and Martin Bonjour has been one of the best in MLS so far this season. But that didn’t stop the Vancouver Whitecaps from adding some insurance. On Wednesday, the Whitecaps announced the capture of Irish international defender Andy O’Brien, who had spent the last two seasons with Leeds United in the English Championship. O’Brien is 33, and is probably best known to soccer followers on this side of the Atlantic for the four seasons he spent with Newcastle United, beginning in 2001. The Irish defender was placed on the Leeds’ transfer list in May after he couldn’t regain a spot in the lineup after undergoing treatment for depression, which was diagnosed in 2011. O’Brien and Leeds made his battle with depression public early in 2012. O’Brien has 26 Irish national-team caps, and was a member of the Ireland team that went to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. The defender has played in 486 English league games overall, more than 300 of them in the Premier League. As a Newcastle player, he also appeared in the Champions League. If his medical condition is under control, he will bring a wealth of experience to the Whitecaps. “Andy is an experienced centre half, who is good in the air and comfortable on the ball,” said Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie in a release issued by the club. “He has spent several years in the English Premier League and with some of England’s best-known clubs. Andy also had the privilege of being at a World Cup. We’re delighted to add a defender of Andy’s experience to our squad.” This move must pain Toronto FC followers, who have been pining for a centre back to plug what is a shorthanded and inexperienced backline. While rumours fly about more centre backs who could call Toronto home, the Reds could only watch as the Whitecaps, who already have DeMerit and Bonjour in the back, snatched the exact kind of player that the Reds so badly need. (And O’Brien is not a Designated Player, either). RELATED: Saborio’s two strikes sink unfortunate Whitecaps (CLICK) Robson’s penalty gives Whitecaps the win over Western Conference-topping Quakes (CLICK)

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