By DAN KARELL
One of the Vancouver Whitecaps’ first round draft picks won’t actually be playing for the team.
Sources have confirmed to Goal’s Ives Galarcep that Jamaican midfielder Andre Lewis has decided to sign with the North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos, spurning the Whitecaps despite being drafted seventh overall at the 2014 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.
(UPDATE: The Whitecaps released a statement via their official Twitter account: “2014 MLS SuperDraft pick Andre Lewis (7th overall) is signed by Major League Soccer and, upon selection, is now a member of VWFC.”)
Lewis, who was on trial with the Cosmos late last season and even traveled with the team on a post-season tour of Spain, reportedly impressed scouts at both the Caribbean combine and subsequent MLS combine. The Whitecaps had clearly seen enough promise in the 19-year-old Jamaican youth international to draft him, but according to the Goal report, Lewis had agreed upon a deal with the Cosmos prior to the draft, which he did not attend.
“We agreed to a deal in principle with the player a while ago, and he’s under contract with us now pending approval from U.S. Soccer,” Stover told Goal USA. “We haven’t made an official announcement yet since we’re in the process of finalizing the terms of the developmental agreement with his club in Jamaica.”
Lewis’ decision to join the Cosmos only adds to the Whitecaps’ miserable Friday. The Whitecaps finalized the transfer of Camilo to Mexican club Querétaro in exchange for a “multi-million dollar transfer fee” but are leaving head coach Carl Robinson with little time to bring in a new forward before preseason training begins on Jan. 25.
The former Jamaica Under-17 National Team goal scorer isn’t the first player to spurn MLS after being drafted but he is the highest draft pick to do so, and the only one to join a team in one of the lower divisions in U.S. Soccer.
In 2008, goalkeeper Dominic Cervi, taken 12th overall by the Chicago Fire, decided to test his luck in Europe, eventually signing with Celtic FC in Scotland. In 2004, former Canadian international Olivier Occean used a strong performance at a preseason tournament in Spain with the Metrostars to receive a large contract from Norwegian club Odd Greenland.
The Goal report also adds that with the exception of top seniors and Generation adidas players, a majority of players who are drafted are unsigned by the league and could potentially leave to sign elsewhere.
What do you think of these developments? Surprised that a player would choose to play for the Cosmos instead of in MLS? What does this say about the Whitecaps’ organization?
Share your thoughts below.