Everyone has their opinion on who the next Whitecaps captain should be after Jay DeMerit retires in the next couple of season. As the only captain in the Whitecaps MLS history, the next one will have a legacy that DeMerit will leave behind that will be hard to live up to. DeMerit bleeds blue and white. He has adopted this city as his own and all of the Caps fans as his family. That will be difficult to recreate and a challenge for who ever has to fill his cleats next.
Do you go with a solid player like Alain Rochat? Do you go with a player with experience being a captain like Nigel Reo-Coker? Or, do you go with a young hard-working player that has committed himself to Vancouver and Canada like Gershon Koffie?
He is one of the most dependable, versatile and reliable players that has ever put on a Whitecaps jersey. He always gives a 100% on the pitch and will play wherever Rennie asks him too. The fact that he was born in Canada and has dual citizenship is a nice problem for the Caps advertising team to help build up buzz for a season ticket push. He is 30 years old this year and would be 32 years old if DeMerit plays another season after this one. That would give Rochat four seasons in Vancouver to cement himself as a leader and a voice on the field and in the locker room. The downside is I don’t see Rochat playing past 35 years old. That would make him captain for 3 maybe 4 seasons. Some teams are fine with a new captain every 3-4 yrs with all the turnover a team can have season to season. We have to remember the MLS is not the NHL. It’s almost impossible to have a Trevor Linden or Steve Yzerman years tenured captain on a soccer team.
As I write this Reo-Coker hasn’t played a single meaningful game or minute in the MLS. This pick is more based on experience and leadership he has obtained from playing for Wimbledon, West Ham United, Aston Villa, Bolton and Ipswich Town. He has been a captain at most levels of European football. If he can assert himself in the Caps current leadership team and be mentored for the next 2-3 years he would be a great choice to lead this team going forward. If he works his way up to a DP spot and current Caps players realized he wasn’t handed that tag and he came in and showed he deserved it through hard work and leadership, other players would follow his lead. In two years he will be 30 years old and in the prime of his career. He could be the big name that Vancouver can pull in as our own and build a solid contenting team around.
Lets start with the age first, he is only 21 years old this year. That is really young to be an MLS captain. Two years from now he will be 23 years old with 5 years of service to the Whitecaps organization. With all the talk of him being sold in the next couple of years some people would say he isn’t a good choice just because of that. If he keeps progressing at the rate he is, why sell him in 2 years? Sure the infusion of money can help with all other aspects of the Whitecaps organization. But why give the MLS 33% of any fee. Say we sell him for $4 million like FC Dallas just did for Brek Shea. We would get, give or take, $2.6 million. Wouldn’t it more financially beneficial to keep him and build the team around him. Tickets sales and jersey sales throughout out his career in Vancouver would for sure be more than that. He has the making of an MLS superstar for the next 12-15 years. A once in a life time player for a franchise like Vancouver.
In the next 2-3 seasons we could have a new batch of completely different players. At the rate that they have moved players since joining the MLS, nothing is set in stone. Whatever happens, whoever they choose, they will always have the legacy of Jay DeMerit to live up too.