In some ways, Tuesday was a historic day for MLS. The Vancouver Whitecaps called a press conference on Tuesday morning to make a "major player announcement," with many speculating it would be a second designated player to go along with Eric Hassli. We were all right -- Vancouver announced a designated player acquisition -- though the original names floated were off. Instead, the Whitecaps signed African forward Mustapha Jarju
Jarju certainly isn't a name with wide-spread notoriety, but it is a smart choice for Vancouver. Instead of throwing a ton of money at an aging superstar that's well past peak, Vancouver went young, choosing to hand a DP contract to a goal-scorer with plenty of potential. He should pair well alongside Eric Hassli, and could make an immediate impact for the Whitecaps.
Over at SB Nation's 86 Forever, Benjamin Massey took a look at the signing on Tuesday morning. He's not sure about Jarju, calling it a roll of the dice, but does see potential in the move.
Mustapha Jarju is not a "name". He will not sell a single ticket. There's no casual soccer fan flipping past Sportsnet this morning and double-taking. "Wait, the Whitecaps signed Jarju? Wow, maybe they're more legitimate than I thought." This is a move strictly to improve the team on the field; just the way I like it.
The fact is that Jarju has no reputation to prop him up. He's not a Torsten Frings type; brought in because people know who he is and remember his salad days. Jarju's salad days haven't arrived yet and only real fans of Belgian or Gambian soccer will know more than his name. That means we can only evaluate him on his record and, luckily, his record is pretty good. It's enough to make me confident, if not exactly certain, in this signing.
With that, Cascadia improves. Vancouver has struggled in its first year in MLS, but may be making strides, even if only incrementally. This is a smart way to use the designated player contract, though none of us know whether he'll pan-out as of yet.