All of that joy that Toronto FC fans have felt in the past few months just went away a little bit, as they were forced to get rid of one of their better players from last season in 22-year-old youth Designated Player Matias Laba. The recent additions of Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe and Gilberto forced Toronto FC to shop Laba around due to the MLS rule stating that clubs could only have three players signed to designated player contracts.
It should be noted that this switch to a permanent trade for Laba rather than a loan, only transpired in the last few hours.
— Peter Schaad (@PeteSchaad) February 27, 2014
Well, Toronto FC’s loss is the Vancouver Whitecaps‘ gain, as the Whitecaps acquired Laba for “future considerations” on Wednesday. The deal was originally announced as a loan on Tuesday, but reports came out on Wednesday stating that the deal would be a trade.
Either way, the news is great for the Whitecaps, who solidify their midfield with the former Argentinos Junior player. Laba will be a welcome addition alongside Nigel Reo-Coker, an instant upgrade over Jun Marques Davidson, who occupied the other central midfield spot for most of last season.
The Whitecaps seemed like they’ve just had the worst offseason imaginable; nothing was going right with the Camilo transfer scandal after he won the Golden Boot last season, along with the Andre Lewis draft debacle when they drafted him after he had already signed a contract with the New York Cosmos the day before. All the while, they had a new man in charge, as former assistant Carl Robinson took over for the fired Martin Rennie.
The biggest question now for Whitecaps fans is, who will be the link between the attack and the midfield? Sure, they have solidified the center of their midfield, but both Laba and Reo-Coker are defensive-minded central players. Factor in that Vancouver traded an attacking minded midfielder in Daigo Kobayashi to the New England Revolution earlier on Wednesday, and defensively they look pretty solid. However, until they can find that connecting piece, they may struggle to get the ball forward on a regular basis.
The two clubs play only once during the regular season, but will meet up in the semifinal round of the Canadian Championship in May. It will be very interesting to see the reception that Laba gets when the first leg is held at BMO Field in Toronto.