I think we can place this in the “I did not see it coming” file.
The arrival of Brek Shea doesn’t make a ton of sense from a squad construction point of view but it’s been clear for a while that the Whitecaps have been keen to get Giles Barnes (or at least his salary) away from Vancouver and Shea was likely the best, or only, option.
So where will he play for the Whitecaps??
Well, Carl Robinson is quoted as saying that Shea will “bring a different dimension to our attack” which rules out him carrying on in the left back position he played in Orlando and the Whitecaps are just fine for left backs anyway.
So that leaves two possible options.
Either Shea fills the same role that Cristian Techera does within the squad, playing either wide left or wide right depending on who else is in the lineup and Robinson will no doubt like the more defensive aspect that Shea will bring to that role.
The problem with that though is that Techera won’t be a first choice starter once everybody else is fit anyway so he either drops even further down the depth chart or becomes virtually superfluous to requirements.
If the Whitecaps can handle that level of salary warming the bench for most of the year then fine, but it’s not a great idea in a league where every dollar (both real and imagined) counts.
The other possibility is that Robinson envisions converting Shea to a central midfield role so that he can play alongside Matias Laba.
This makes a kind of sense given that he has both defensive experience, the ability to get forward and a track record of being able to change positions at the whim of a coach.
And maybe Shea will indeed turn out to be the box to box midfielder the side so desperately need.
The reality though is that this probably wasn’t a trade made with a specific purpose in mind but one driven by a “needs must” agenda and only now will Robinson begin to think about how best to utilize his new signing.
One more versatile player isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there’s the danger that an awful lot of squareish pegs are going to be forced uncomfortably into roundish holes this season.
And that doesn’t sound pleasant for anybody!