Whitecaps trade Gershon Koffie to New England Revolution

 

 
 
 
 
Gershon Koffie joined the Vancouver Whitecaps organization in 2010, the year before it debuted in Major League Soccer.
 

Gershon Koffie joined the Vancouver Whitecaps organization in 2010, the year before it debuted in Major League Soccer.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG

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VANCOUVER — Carl Robinson admits he probably got as close to Gershon Koffie as he did with any player in his four years with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

"Listen, he's my boy," he said of the popular Ghanian midfielder.

But in yet another sign that the young bench boss has a real grasp of the job's challenging requirements, Robinson understood the 24-year-old Koffie had "hit a ceiling in Vancouver." And the coach was able to block out the emotional side and make a business decision, dealing away one of the club's longest serving players while he was still able to get something in return.

The Caps announced today they have traded Koffie — who joined the club in 2010, the year before it moved into Major League Soccer — to the New England Revolution for general and targeted allocation money.

Koffie, who has played more MLS games (136, including 119 starts) than any other player but whose contract was set to expire after the 2016 season, was a fan favourite. He always had a smile and gave freely of his time to supporters' groups.

"Words cannot explain my love for Vancouver," Koffie said in a statement issued by the club. "Vancouver has a room in my heart and it owns the key. I understand this is a business and this move will make me stronger, will help me grow as a player and as a person."

The decision to trade him came down to a few key factors, including that expiring contract. Despite his love for Vancouver, Koffie wants to test himself in Europe and was not going to re-sign with the Caps. In fact, he can sign a pre-contract deal in Europe in July.

"I couldn't afford to wait three or four months and risk get nothing from anyone," said Robinson.

The Caps, after signing Masato Kudo, Christian Bolanos and Blas Perez in the off-season, are also in a cap crunch. They have to shed some salary.

Koffie, who made $241,000 last season but doesn't have the offensive upside of teenagers Deybi Flores and Kianz Froese, is the first to go. Striker Darren Mattocks, who is set to earn about $300,000 this season, will likely be gone by the start of the regular season.

A hard tackler and ball winner as a defensive midfielder alongside Matias Laba, Koffie could be the best player on the pitch some nights. He scored the occasional dazzling goal on long-range strikes. But despite all the opportunity in the world, he simply wasn't consistent enough. And he was too often keeping cheaper, homegrown player Russell Teibert off the field.

"Rusty's been super reliable, but unfortunately in big games I've always gone back to Gershon," said Robinson. "I wanted to give Rusty an opportunity and we've got two young ones (in Flores and Froese) coming through. And I need a goal-scoring midfield player.

"I thought Gersh had hit a ceiling. He's played great in some games, but he's been inconsistent."

Robinson said he kept Koffie informed over the last three or four weeks on his discussions with other clubs. He said he could have moved him earlier, but Koffie rejected a trade to one particular club.

The Revolution have always been interested. But their need became more urgent when recently signed designated player Xavier Kouassi tore an ACL.

"He'll definitely play there," said Robinson, noting that Koffie also will be reunited with Tommy Soehn, a Revolution assistant coach, who brought him to Vancouver from Ghana in 2010.

"I think it's the best thing for him. Sometimes change is good and he understood that. It's down to him now to go above and beyond the inconsistency."

gkingston@vancouversun.com

 
 
 
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Gershon Koffie joined the Vancouver Whitecaps organization in 2010, the year before it debuted in Major League Soccer.
 

Gershon Koffie joined the Vancouver Whitecaps organization in 2010, the year before it debuted in Major League Soccer.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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