Blas Perez goes from foe to friend with Vancouver Whitecaps
MLS Goalkeeper of the Year runner-up David Ousted signs contract extension with Whitecaps
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If a picture is worth a thousands words, then soccer fans in Vancouver would love to know what goalkeeper David Ousted was really shouting at Blas Perez back in October of 2014.
It’s a familiar photograph for Whitecaps fans. Ousted, Vancouver’s goalkeeper on the right, holding the ball and verbally scolding Perez, who was with FC Dallas.
The rivalry between the Whitecaps and FC Dallas was about to hit its peak with an MLS playoff game a few weeks later, though the bad blood between the two clubs had been brewing before that, Perez as one of the feature antagonists.
But Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ single doesn’t apply here. Any problems between the Whitecaps and Perez have likely been solved by now.
He’s on their side. Perez agreed to a one-year deal, which was officially announced Tuesday.
“Throughout your career, you’re going to play against players that you absolutely hate on the field … and they haunt you,” said Ousted.
“Then you end up meeting them, being teammates with them … and finding out how nice of a guy they are. Same with Blas. He’s a nice guy and coming in, he’s only been all smiles and ready to work.
“I’m still going to scream at him. A lot. Like I do with all the guys. But this time he’s going to be on my team so hopefully he’s going to haunt someone else.”
In an MLS video, Perez has admitted to being an aggressive player. The highlight package included numerous fouls committed by and against Perez. There are elbows and grabs and in-your-face, um, conversations with officials.
Head coach Carl Robinson probably won’t mind the antics if Perez can help a Whitecaps team that desperately needed an upgrade to its attack following last year’s playoff loss.
“Whatever way he can score goals, that will do for me,” said Robinson.
Robinson acknowledged the additions of Perez, who had been training with Vancouver before this deal was finalized, and Japanese forward Masato Kudo have given his club more options up front in their attack, which stagnated late last season.
Perez said he’s still battling to be a starter up front, though he could be used as a substitute. As a target player, he can be brought off the bench to change the dynamic of a game if Vancouver is in need of a different look offensively.
As for past battles with his new teammates, Perez is of the mind to let bygones be bygones.
“You’ve got to move forward,” said Perez, through a translator.
“As a professional … what happened in the past happened in the past. What happened on the field stays on the field. After the game is done, we’re all brothers, friends, family. Now that I’m at this club, it’s my opportunity to really repay the confidence the club has shown in me and work hard.”
DAVID OUSTED SIGNS EXTENSION
Star goalkeeper David Ousted still has aspirations of playing in Europe and he even looked at his options on that continent before deciding to sign a contract extension with the Whitecaps.
The 31-year-old Ousted, runner-up for 2015 Goalkeeper of the Year, said his new deal is two years plus an option and presents the best choice for him and his family.
“We flew in and my daughter looked out … coming into Vancouver and she looked at me in said, ‘This is our city.’ As a father, you can’t deny something like that,” he said.
“I still have my wanting to go back to Europe and try and play at an even higher level but I’m also very aware of how happy I am here, of the way the club is moving forward and the way I want to be a part of that.”
Ousted, who has started every Whitecaps regular season game for the past two seasons, said those ambitions to play in Europe won’t change so long as he’s still playing.
“The day that changes, I think is the day I’m going to stop playing soccer because I always need to have my ambitions. I don’t think the Whitecaps are going to have the best keeper they can if my ambitions (are) not to play at the very highest level,” he said.
The progression of the Whitecaps, particularly since Robinson took over as manager, is another attractive element for Ousted.
With a young group, the Whitecaps have made strides in each of the last two seasons and, even though the 2016 season hasn’t even started yet, they seem poised to be in contention for a lengthy playoff run.
“Robbo was a big part of me wanting to stay,” said Ousted of the coach.
“For me, he’s a great manager but he’s also got visions for this club going forward and I wanted to be a part of that. I think the years to come in this club could be very exciting.”
ROBINSON SCOFFS AT LATEST MATTOCKS RUMOUR
Speculation about Darren Mattocks and his future in Vancouver is nothing new, whether it’s him on the trading block or as a possible transfer option.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated reported that Mattocks, the second overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, is being targeted by the Chinese Super League, though it’s uncertain at this point that a deal would go through.
Robinson seemed taken aback at that specific scenario.
Asked if there was any movement with Mattocks, Robinson said, “No. Not at the moment.”
Asked if movement could be expected in the next few days, that coy Robinson smile broke out.
“No. We’re still in the process of trying to build our squad at the moment,” he said. “So we’ll see. As soon as I hear any news, I’ll let you gents know.”
KUDO HAS A ‘SMALL ISSUE’
Whitecaps forward Masato Kudo did not take part in Tuesday’s training session.
Robinson said Kudo was dealing with a “small issue” but it isn’t expected to be that bad. The coach didn’t rule out the possibility of Kudo re-joining the squad at training later this week, but he also he didn’t want to rush him back.
“We’ll take a little bit of time with Masato,” said Robinson.