Kendall Waston

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FC Cincinnati acquires Kendall Waston from Vancouver

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There was some teeth-grinding around MLS circles that perhaps FC Cincinnati bringing many of its USL players to the top flight could be a naive decision that leads to a Minnesota United level first year struggle.

Those concerns should be somewhat if not largely quelled on Tuesday, as FCC added two international quality backs and several other players via trades and the Expansion Draft.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 1-0 Napoli ]

FCC saved the best for last, acquiring Kendall Waston from the Vancouver Whitecaps for a lot of numbers and slots and stuff (via FCCincinnati.com):

  • $450,000 of General Allocation Money
  • $300,000 of Targeted Allocation Money
  • The 2019 international roster spot obtained from the Colorado Rapids via trade after the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft.
  • Vancouver will retain a percentage of future transfer fees should FC Cincinnati trade or transfer Waston.
  • Additionally, should Waston reach certain performance-based incentives with FC Cincinnati, Vancouver will also receive an additional $75,000 in GAM.

With respect to Greg Garza, no move is more promising than the rescue of Waston from Vancouver.

Waston had a down year this season with the Caps, but so did the Caps. The captain was angered by the firing of coach Carl Robinson, and said he was ready to move on (Vancouver also traded another critic, Kei Kamara, on Tuesday).

Thirty times capped by Costa Rica, Waston scored against Switzerland in his only action of the 2018 World Cup.

If Emmanuel Ledesma is able to have half the impact he had in USL, find steady goalkeeping, and line up a CB to pair with Waston (Forrest Lasso?), FCC is going to surprise a lot of teams.

The Vancouver Whitecaps had a very lively postseason media day

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You know what sounds terrible? Being a part of the 2018 Vancouver Whitecaps.

Aside from Alphonso Davies’ sale to Bayern Munich, the ‘Caps struggled to keep any semblance of momentum all season and saw their poor campaign cost longtime coach Carl Robinson his job.

[ MORE: MLS Playoff Preview ]

“Robbo” must’ve been smirking a little today, as the Whitecaps had a post-season press conference for the ages. It included tears, a captain asking out (again), and some pretty damning complaints.

Take this one, from 24-times capped New Zealand international and starting goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

Cue the “This is fine” meme.

Vancouver fired Robinson with five matches left in the season and playoff hopes still alive. They promptly took four points out of the next 12 and were eliminated before winning on the Decision Day and finishing two points back of sixth.

Captain Kendall Waston wasn’t happy with the move then, and spoke out more forcefully on Tuesday. Waston said he “doesn’t like two-faced people” and expects a transfer. Vancouver says he won’t be sold for less than market value.

Felipe Martins was in tears as he recapped a rough personal season that included his father-in-law dying, a loss of a family dog, and further unnamed family issues.

And Efrain Juarez was not pleased with his teammates speaking out in public.

Waston, Kamara upset by Vancouver coaching change

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The Vancouver Whitecaps parted ways with one of the longer tenured managers in Major League Soccer, and two of its stars are not happy with the move.

Carl Robinson was fired Tuesday after nearly five years in charge of the Caps, when Vancouver elected to hire him over Bob Bradley and other candidates.

[ MORE: Pulisic shines in BVB blowout ]

But things turned sour this season, and Vancouver president Bob Lenarduzzi is hoping a late coaching change can propel the Caps back into the playoffs. Vancouver is four points back of the final spot with five matches to play.

Kendall Waston joined Vancouver at the end of Robinson’s first season, and was twice named to the MLS Best XI in addition to making the All Star Team in 2016. From MLSSoccer.com:

“It’s a difficult moment. I’m not happy at all. But as a player, you have bosses, and even if you don’t like the things that happen, you have to respect what those bosses say. … I was thinking, with five games to go, was this the right moment? Personally, I don’t think it was the right moment, but I’m not in charge of the club.”

The Costa Rican captains Vancouver, so his feelings certainly matter when it comes to how they rebound from the decision.

And star striker Kei Kamara admits he feels the firing in his bones.

“He believed in me, he believed in how I could play, he believed that I can fit the system, and I respect him so much as a coach and for everything he’s done here,” Kamara said. “So when I heard the news, I took it personally too because I feel that we did that to him as players. … I feel responsible for part of it.”

The Caps have a rough run into the end of the season, with a visit to the desperate LA Galaxy before heading across the continent to meet Toronto FC at BMO Field. They finish home to Sporting KC, away to LAFC, and home to Portland.

Bizarre must-see penalty levels Costa Rica, Switzerland

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A wild finish in Nizhny Novgorod saw Costa Rica come back to draw Switzerland 2-2, though the Swiss are the second-place side to move into the Round of 16.

Switzerland led through ex-Montreal Impact midfielder Blerim Dzemaili and later Josip Drmic, but Vancouver Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston and ex-Fulham man Bryan Ruiz found equalizers.

Ruiz’s goal was especially wild, his PK bounding off the bar but hitting the Swiss goalkeeper for what will absurdly be recorded as an own goal.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Dzemaili’s goal came when Breel Embolo leapt to knock down Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross back toward the top of the six.

The knockdown could hardly have found Dzemaili in a more favorable position.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

It was Whitecaps stalwart Waston who restored the deadlock off a 56th minute set piece.

MLS defenses have seen this before…

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]  

Switzerland went ahead through Drmic, and then almost gave the lead right back. A penalty was awarded to Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz, but the ex-Fulham man was found offside via VAR.

No matter, Costa Rica got its penalty late, and converted it in… unusual fashion. Joel Campbell’s effort won the PK, and Ruiz’s shot hit the bar, then Swiss goalkeeper Jan Sommer’s head to make it 2-2.

Balance between club and country gets tricky with World Cup

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Kendall Waston was surrounded by Vancouver Whitecaps teammates when the club’s coach, Carl Robinson, informed him he had made Costa Rica’s 23-man World Cup roster for the first time.

The applause, warm wishes and water-bottle shower that followed were a sign of respect and admiration. Waston is Vancouver’s captain, and his play with the Whitecaps is largely why he’s headed to Russia.

Of course, the moment Waston made that Costa Rican roster, his priorities changed.

Waston says the Whitecaps “treat me like a family” and “have helped me a lot,” providing the exposure and experience necessary to crack a World Cup roster. But like many other Russia-bound MLS players, the last thing he wants is to invite any needless risks that might jeopardize his participation in Russia. Keeping the club competitive and staying fit and healthy to represent your country can become a delicate balance.

While most leagues around the world cap their play in early-to-mid May, the MLS schedule marches on, and many players headed to Russia stuck with their MLS teams through the last weekend of May before joining their national teams.

“I think that each day you have to work harder to be in good standing with the club, first of all,” Seattle Sounders and Panama defender Roman Torres said through an interpreter. “Each day with the club, I am training to the fullest to obtain the triumphs that we’re trying to achieve. … It’s important to be physically fit and mentally strong as you arrive from the club to your national team.”

Torres is a prime example of how tenuous the balance can be for both players and their club teams as the World Cup nears. During pregame warmups on April 29, Torres strained his hamstring. In the days after Torres was hurt, Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said, “it’s not good. It’s not good.”

What Schmetzer meant was the wide impact Torres’ injury had. It was significant to Seattle in the short-term and had a trickle-down effect for Panama. Torres had to sit out four games to properly rest the injury at a time Seattle could have used it’s staring defender. He spent most of May rehabbing instead of joining Panama in top form. And he’s at greater risk for aggravating the injury trying to slow down Eden Hazard or Harry Kane during the World Cup.

“It’s always challenging and it’s been challenging for us as a club because we’ve always had a lot of internationals on our roster,” Schmetzer said.

Injury is typically the primary concern, and the fallout can be significant. In Europe, England’s Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlin and France’s Laurent Koscielny were lost from World Cup consideration due to major injuries suffered late in their club seasons. A final capper to the international club season were the injuries suffered by Mohamed Salah (Egypt) and Dani Carvajal (Spain) in the UEFA Champions League final and have put their status for Russia in question.

For others who sit on the cusp of making their national teams, the consideration of injury and overall health isn’t allowed to be a factor. Give less than 100 percent effort, and performance could diminish, and selection for the World Cup might not happen.

“It’s not an easy time for the players, because that’s obviously on their minds,” said LAFC and former U.S. coach Bob Bradley.

Gustav Svensson has seemed a lock for Sweden after he played significant minutes in its World Cup qualifying playoff win over Italy. And while the thought of what lies ahead in Russia would sometimes creep into his mind during training, he did his best to push it aside when it came to games for Seattle.

“I think it’s dangerous to start thinking about that,” Svensson said. “I think it’s dangerous if you start not going into 100 percent in every challenge. I think easier to get injured if you start lacking in a little bit of some things.”

Clint Dempsey played in three World Cups for the U.S., two while playing in MLS and one while in England. He said that either way, the top concern for players this time of year is the challenge of staying in top shape.

“I couldn’t say which one is more difficult because you have a short career you want to make the most of it,” Dempsey said. “You don’t want to complain and you make the most of what your situation is whether you play domestically for club or playing in Europe. You want to be playing well because if you’re playing well for your club you’ll always get called into the national team.”

AP Sports Writer Anne M. Peterson contributed to this report.