Vancouver Whitecaps sign veteran MLS forward Damir Kreilach; close to signing Fafà Picault
With their round one Concacaf Champions Cup tie against Tigres now less than a month away, the Vancouver Whitecaps have been wheeling and dealing to start 2024, as they prepare to build off a huge 2023 campaign.
To start, they made a key veteran addition, signing veteran MLS forward Damir Kreilach, bringing in the 34-year-old Croatian on a two-year deal following a six-year stint with Real Salt Lake.
Kreilach is now blue & white! 🔵⚪️— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) December 29, 2023
‘Caps are pleased to announce that experienced midfielder and @MLS free agent, Damir Kreilach, has signed to a two-year contract through 2025 ✍️
Welcome to the club, Dami! #VWFC | #FIFTYTGTHR
After 168 games with Salt Lake, in which he scored 56 goals and added 19 assists, Kreilach will look to bring his veteran poise to an already-solid Vancouver attack, headlined by the dynamic duo of Ryan Gauld and Brian White, and complemented by pieces such as Pedro Vite, Ali Ahmed and more.
He likely won't be asked to play as big of a role as he did at RSL, where the attack was heavily concentrated around his dual-threat attacking ability, but he could chip in nicely in a depth role, while picking up starts when needed.
And looks like Kreilach won't be the only veteran addition to that attack, either, as it was also reported this week by Harjeet Johal that the club is finalizing the addition of 32-year-old Fafà Picault, who most recently played with Nashville SC, and has had stints in MLS with the Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas and the Philadelphia Union.
A strong presser of the ball, Picault can also create offence at a solid rate, having scored 47 goals and added 20 assists in 195 games in MLS.
#VWFC are close to signing free agent winger Fafà Picault to a one year contract with an option for 2025.— Har Journalist (@HarJournalist) January 9, 2024
There will be no TAM used.
Deal will be done this week.
The 32-year-old New York native spent last season with Nashville. #MLS
For a Whitecaps team that likes to press their opponents high up the field, however, they'll be mainly looking for him to continue to bring the former to the table, although they'd certainly be pleased if he chips in with a half-dozen goals, which isn't unrealistic after he scored nine in all competitions on a Nashville side that sometimes struggled to generate offence last year.
With 2023 Whitecaps super-sub, Simon Becher, reportedly set to head to Denmark for a transfer fee of $400 000, per Tom Bogert, Picault will look to replace the seven goals that Becher was able to put up in limited minutes in 2023, while bringing some key leadership after spending over a half-decade in the league.
Otherwise, the Whitecaps remain in negotiations with full back Richie Laryea, whose loan from Nottingham Forest expired at the end of 2023, but his fate remains in Forest's hands, as the Whitecaps maximum possible offer has proved to be unsatisfactory to the Premier League side for now.
Whitecaps CEO Axel Schuster told @TheRealJJAdams— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) January 9, 2024
“The max amount that Richie can cost us in our (salary) cap by MLS rules isn’t the problem for him, it’s more of a problem (w/ Nottingham). And the club is not … open to let him go for a price that would make this deal possible” https://t.co/ogZcyvD2xi
Because of that, the Whitecaps have begun to look elsewhere for potential reinforcements at the right back position, although they'll still hold out hope that Forest could change their mind, especially with it looking increasingly likelier that they'll ensure Premier League status for another season, which could impact Laryea, who they likely view as insurance for if they were to go down to the Championship and had to offload a bunch of their current squad.
Lastly, the Whitecaps are yet to issue an update on veteran forward Junior Hoilett, who after signing a short-term contract in the fall, remains a free agent, although his return seems unlikely after the Picault rumours emerged this week.
On the pitch, the Whitecaps will be back in action in the Champions Cup at Starlight Stadium on February 7th, while their MLS season kicks off with a home date against Charlotte FC at BC Place on March 2nd.