Home MLS Montreal Impact Did Whitecaps inherit Montreal’s headache, or the NASL MVP?

Did Whitecaps inherit Montreal’s headache, or the NASL MVP?


Can Martin Rennie sell the charm of playing with the Vancouver RailHawks, er, Whitecaps? Will it be enough of a calling card for Etienne Barbara?

After the MLS Supplemental Draft was completed, the Montreal Impact traded its Discovery claim on reigning NASL MVP Etienne Barbara to the Whitecaps. In exchange, the Impact gets Gienier Garcia, the Cruz Azul youth team product who the ‘Caps took with the second overall pick in the Supplemental Draft.

Rennie, who coached Barbara with the RailHawks last season, already has former Carolina players Matt Watson and Brad Knighton in Vancouver. But can he get the jewel in the crown?

“Etienne is a fast, powerful player that can create goals,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Rennie. “He understands soccer in North America and has had a good career in Europe. If we are able to sign him, he will bring versatility to our line-up as a wide midfielder or a striker.”

The problem may be the offer. Barbara flatly rejected the contract offer made to him by the Impact, which was believed to be a basic entry-level deal. Now, remember that MLS has central control of contracts, and this is where it gets interesting. How much of an improved offer can the Whitecaps make Barbara?

MLS will likely not be too pleased if the Whitecaps wanted to make an offer that was significantly higher than Montreal. Yes, Barbara ran away with a scoring title last year, but that was at the NASL level. And, if a precedent is set that a player like Barbara can make decent dough right out of NASL, then the next great NASL prospects and their agents have a hill to die on.

So, Vancouver’s pull has got to be Rennie and the RailHawks alumni. Maybe a nice orange third jersey for the Whitecaps.

As welli, Rennie was able to squeeze a lot of out of a player who is known around North American soccer circles to be a difficult personality in the dressing room.

But if money wins out over loyalty, then Vancouver may have inherited Montreal’s problem, not grabbed itself the NASL’s top player.


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One Comment

  1. Ken Jamieson

    January 21, 2012 at 4:17 am

    As a big fan of Whitecaps FC, I am trying to be optimistic about Etienne Barbara. Having watched him in action in the NASL last year, I have to be realstic about his chances in MLS. It’s easy to look at his stats last year, especially 20 goals in the first half of the season. However, outside this amazing tally, his is a moderate talent. Div 2 NASL was actually the highest level of play he has played at. At 29, he is not an upcoming talent but rather a fringe player looking at possibly his last shot at the big time.
    It some ways I am brought to draw a comparison with Arsenal’s acquisition of Andrei Arshavin, in his late 20s at the time, now in his early 30s they are still waiting for him to realize his potential.
    My final thought on this subject is just how Etienne will fit into the squad. No doubt his existing relationship with Martin Rennie will play in his advantage, but its a stretch to consider him the main man as he was in Carolina, or even as a starter, but only time will tell. Rennie must also realize that, by bringing in Barbara, he is tying himself to this ship, if it turns into a sinking ship, Rennie may very well be in the same boat.

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