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Arnoux signs with Whitecaps as Vancouver eyes talent ahead of MLS move

Cody Arnoux

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A year ago Cody Arnoux was a hot-shot Wake Forest striker bypassing his senior season to chase the dream of European soccer rather than going the Major League Soccer route. Today, Arnoux is back on this side of the Atlantic and may be a step closer to MLS.

Arnoux has signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USSF Division-2, the same club that will join MLS in 2011. Released by Everton last summer after injuries hampered his one year with the Toffees, Arnoux could play his way into place on the Vancouver MLS expansion team, or even the 2011 MLS Draft.

Major League Soccer is closely monitoring transactions such as this in an effort to keep incoming expansion clubs from circumventing league rules to stockpile talent ahead of their introduction to MLS. In the case of Arnoux, he is a player who was a highly-regarded MLS prospect who could have easily been a Top Four pick in the 2010 MLS Draft had he played his senior year at Wake Forest.

Arnoux's status as a top young American prospect makes his situation different than that of Swiss internationals Alain Rochat and Davide Chiumiento, who Vancouver just signed to USSF D-2 contracts and who the Whitecaps can sign as MLS players next year.

Will the Whitecaps be able to bring Arnoux to MLS in 2011? It is possible, but not automatic. According to sources within MLS, Arnoux could wind up having to enter a weighted lottery or the 2011 MLS Draft, where the Whitecaps could consider drafting him with either the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick (which pick Vancouver has could be determined as early as Monday). The Whitecaps might also consider using that top pick on recent loan acquisition Omar Salgado, who has joined Vancouver's USSF-D2 team on loan but who will enter the 2011 draft.

Either way, Arnoux's return to North America is a good sign that he is ready to reconsider returning to MLS. He would be a lock first-round pick if he were made available in the 2011 MLS Draft, though the 2011 draft is shaping up to be a very deep one. If you don't know much about Arnoux and want some perspective, consider that he and Marcus Tracy were the starting strikers for Wake Forest who kept highly-regarded New England rookie Zack Schilawski on the bench for the Demon Deacons until his senior year.

So why wouldn't MLS just let Arnoux sign with the MLS Whitecaps? It's pretty simple. Allowing such a move could set a dangerous precedent by giving future MLS expansion teams (such as Montreal) the option of recruiting and signing top college talent to USSF-D2 deals in order to have them bypass the MLS Draft. MLS can't allow it, and even though Arnoux obviously didn't leave Wake Forest to end up with Vancouver, allowing a direct move could lead to a raiding of college soccer talent by future expansion teams.

What do you think of this signing? Hoping Arnoux ends up in the MLS Draft? Worried about Vancouver's stock-piling of talent, or are you glad to see an expansion team being so ambitious?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Arnoux is actually on Vancouver’s squad now and played against the Rowdies. He is Whitecap property.

    Arnoux affirmed he wasn’t contacted by anyone from MLS, so how can they retroactively claim he’s draft eligible, when no such attempt was made to draft him when he left.

    Likewise, Salgado could still be drafted by Vancouver, but they’d have to wait until he’s 18 to play in Canada, apparently, but it would still be their option. If anyone wanted Arnoux why didn’t they draft him, as Vancouver is expected to if they want Salgado? There were 4 rounds last year.

    It seems MLS want Vancouver’s money and they’d like them to be good, but not too good. Well managed, but not too well managed. Those cheeky Canucks!

    Moreover, perhaps MLS feel the ‘Caps are front loading Rochat & Chiumiento’s salaries and want to punish them otherwise.

  2. Played with Cody growing up, great kid who turned down a chance at bradenton to stay at home with family, went the college route and still went overseas. Thought the EPL might be asking a bit much at his age, but definitely someone to keep an eye on.

  3. This is just another example of the asinine cloak-and-dagger games that MLS lives to play with what laughably passes for its rules. Arnoux is neither a “college player” nor a “USL player” because he signed for a foreign club. MLS has never had any claim on this player; therefore, he should be treated as a professional free agent from a foreign team — period. The fact that he apparently will not is yet another example of the sort of idiotic tomfoolery that makes MLS look like a joke.

    Worse, it is yet another example of MLS’s no-holds-barred determination to keep every American player not named Landon Donovan from having any hope of earning DP wages. Wonder how that attitude plays into Don Garber’s stated ambition to “keep the best American talent here”? Does he seriously think offering the best U.S. talent $400k is gonna keep those guys from bailing for even Scandinavian teams? If so, he’s a total fool!

  4. Robinswood +1. I know of a handful of cases where players have had their scholarships removed due to injury and than are stuck with the massive debt of a college education. To top it all off, many of the athletes were pushed through the system due to sports and don’t know how read at age 20.

  5. The draft is kind of necessary at the moment, but there will come a time when MLS will have to get rid of it.

    The only question is, will it be because MLS has become successful enough to remove the training wheels of artificial parity, or will it be because good players have stopped playing in college?

  6. Although we call Vancouver and Portland expansions, it is more accurate and more appropriate to call them acquisitions. MLS is “expanding” in to Portland, Vancouver, and later Montreal, by acquiring existing, smaller companies. Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Montreal Impact are existing going concerns (soccer teams) with established brands. The acquired companies will transfer their assets (fixed, and intangible/intellectual property)and personnel to the new parent company (MLS). MLS will build on existing brands and rosters through acquisitions, and increase their value through economies of scope.

    Acquisition does not involve startup costs necessary for grassroots expansions like Philly and Toronto. There, MLS had to establish name brands, and build new stadiums, start with zero players, and build from the ground up. MLS should differentiate governance of expansion teams by the means of expansion. I don’t know if MLS considers these advantages acquisitions posses, but If you do please reply!

  7. My thoughts I posted this over at BS:

    Vancouver and Portland have been told that they are allowed to bring forward any player on their USSF D2 roster, unless another MLS team owns their rights. Arnoux’s rights are not currently owed by the MLS or any team in the MLS and he never signed anything with them at any point.

    I think the MLS is saying that because they showed interest in signing him to generation Adidas before he left for europe that he must go through the draft or discovery. My point of view on this is that the MLS has realized that they have left a loophole open, wish the had not, and are now trying to close it retro-actively. Unless of course they are claiming that anyone who they express interest in or thought about expressing interest in (without signing anything) is theirs, that would be a hoot.

    In the end because of single entity I suppose the MLS prez could always just say no because I say so.

  8. I love it. I hope more people circumvent the draft system. Let the teams willing to pay get the players who want to be there.

    I know people worry about it becoming like Europe or something, but c’mon; MLS is already only slightly less predictable than many European leagues. (in fact it resembles the Dutch league a bit where there are 4 or 5 contenders every year but every couple of years an outsider sneaks into the mix. Just like in MLS and Eredivisie has no draft system)

    I have no problem with college athletics, I think MLS and NCAA should work together whereby academy players have their college education paid for by the MLS team until the club decides they are pro-level or the player opts out and the NCAA lets the players play on the college teams in addition to the teams academy teams.
    The school would get ‘stars of tomorrow’ to promote and not ahve to pay a dime for them and with a system like that with a possible guarantee of top line education, you might even start seeing more young foreign future stars coming here for the chance at footballing fame while also getting the promise of a top notch degree from a top notch institution.
    It’s an opportunity the systems around the world simply couldn’t match at the moment.

  9. If the next expansion team has to be NY2, Garber will be forced to expand beyond 20 teams as NY2 would not expand the footprint of MLS, which MLS most def has to do…..
    MLS will probably expand to 30 teams
    3 divisions of 10


    So this will probably come up again so they should set up a rule to regulate it…..Even if it is entirely stupid… Its not like Cody thought that he could avoid the draft and dictate where he wanted to play when he signed with EVERTON of the PREMIER LEAGUE

    Anyways…. Go MLS

  10. The universities often make life uncomfortable for those who continue to attend, thus encouraging leaving. When that fails, they will often “find” a transgression worthy of revoking the scholarship. Fairly good article on just this in the Seattle times recently.

    Can’t speak to soccer, but in football and basketball it’s a very common practice. The UW alone, has cut off three players in this way over the past two years.

    Soccer….. You’re probably right. There’s just not the same level of profit to justify the effort, nor enough competition. Wait a few years.

  11. Notice that MLS already makes an exception for DP’s. Just what one would predict, since the market is an open one where the team can recruit anyone they want and only have a portion of the wages count against the cap. In the absence of rules preventing competition for players, the “exceptions” would be demanded and yielded repeatedly, leading to the collapse of the cap. Even if the cap is maintained, financially successful teams would find creative ways to “compensate” desired players off the books.

  12. How many soccer players do you know who have had their scholarships pulled because “they simply weren’t good enough”? Anyone who can no longer participate due to injury in any sport is still allowed to attend school on scholarship. The scholarship simply does not count against the program’s signing limit.

    I don’t think you know much about college athletics.

  13. The bottom line is, after Vancouver, Portland and Montreal, how many more expansion teams will there be? Exactly, maybe 1 according to MLS growth estimations. We are not talking about a common thing here.

    I could see MLS wanting to control such a thing, but realistically I don’t think the Player’s union would go for this, I would gather this is a grey area in the most recent CBA if teams are trying it. Props to Vancouver for trying to get their expansion team in the past shape possible.

    Also good for Cody, any player that goes to Europe and is out of college for over a certain time, should be able to sign with whomever.

    Now, this silly allocation process/order, that is a whole other story that this could have ramifications on…

  14. It has been great to see the majority of the young talent stay home and go to MLS. The future of the MLS seems bright. Now if only MLS could bring back some type of reserve league to give the guys who don’t play right away a chance to develop. That might mean expanding the rosters?

  15. I dont think them signing a player who spent an entire year abroad before coming back sets any kind of precedent. It’s not liek there would be many more teams this could even impact (2 at most). He’s not Canadian and as much as this probably circumvents someone’s discovery claim on him, he COULD have been drafted the year he left school (much like Joe Lapira and Marcus Tracy were even though they didn’t intend to go to MLS). No one did that thus he should be rights free…..either way, by the time Vancouver join MLS his college protected rights would have expired (12/31 the year following his draft eligible season/turns pro). Actually, that might have been the 2010 draft, but either way, no one used a pick on him thus I’d say they forfeit the right. Him getting an EPL contract is not like slumming it in the Norwegan D3 for a year…this was opportunistic and smart.

    Seattle signed guys ahead of their move up, Vancouver are just taking it to a new level. Their acquisitions beign better quality than Sanna Nyassi and Le Toux (although he’s obviously moved to bigger/better things)

  16. Thanks for the clarification…… It just seems slightly silly is all……. And I am not against the Draft just against a player that is not from this country who is not part of our system being subjected to our system
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  17. We don’t know that for certain yet and word in Seattle is that HE may enter the allocation lottery (which is a different deal from the college draft). In the NBA, it would be his age, which would still place him in the college eligible category.

  18. And in most of those cases where those players are exploited and discarded, the majority of them would do it all over again because it is the only chance they’ll ever have of having a quality life. You’d rather see them attend either nonexistent schools/colleges or be denied entrance to the ones that actually exist?

    I’d point out that college sports in the US is not much better than the model you’re providing, where kids have their scholarships pulled because of injury, or worse, because they simply weren’t good enough, all while being exploited by the schools, shady agents, and, yes, often their own parents.

  19. Which is not what the fans really want. Sure the wannabes are happy about it, since they simply want to be able to compete without spending a fortune, but ultimately what fans want is their team to be one of the top four and dominate everyone else. Competitive balance is good for this league right now, but we are not far away, imo, from seeing the haves demand their right to the very best entertainment/players money can buy and will resent being held back.

  20. This is bull…… Its for the better of the league if all new teams come in strong out the gate……..

    Side Note: why does John Rooney have to enter the MLS draft if he wants to play in MLS.

  21. A player will never reach his full potential playing and training with college players instead of professionals during the most important years of his soccer education. And a US soccer program before that isn’t helping either.

  22. I kind of like the notion of expansion teams getting a bit of a leg up as far as signing players for the remainder of the D2 season–it puts the MLS teams on notice that they need to continue to be proactive in the transfer market, however given Arnoux’s bypassing of the draft last year, I think some action should be taken to block.

  23. I tend to agree, but I’m not 100% what they’re getting after other than trying to get a stranglehold on every last detail.

    Why wouldn’t teams be able to ‘stockpile’ talent before they reach MLS? They’re already at a disadvantage as expansion franchises as it is, and usually pick through the scrubs of the league to fill their roster. As long as they’re squad fits within the salary cap it shouldn’t be a major issue.

  24. Colin,

    I don’t think MLS is concerned with stockpiling. They are concerned with college players circumventing the draft system. Every other team in MLS should be concerned with that, not just the league. If they are going to have a draft system (and that’s not going away anytime soon) then you have to enforce the rules to insure the validity of the system.

  25. What’s wrong with stockpiling talent? Isn’t that what we’re looking for in MLS? As long as they stay under the salary cap when they enter the league, there shouldn’t be a problem here. It would nearly eliminate the need for the stupid expansion draft and would allow for those expansion teams (with great attendance numbers already built-in) to hit the ground running.

  26. Finally, someone with a good argument. As academies progress, the importance of college soccer and the draft will diminish.

  27. You’re right Skinn, it’s much better the way they do it in soccer around the world. Shady agents conning parents into signing their children’s rights away. Importing African youth to France and then abandoning them when they don’t work out. Buying and selling teenagers like they are slave laborers. Oh yeah….the whole system of college athletics feeding hte pros is stupid…..except few peoples’ lives are ruined because of it.

  28. The rules are there to hold down wages. If teams competed for all talent, the salary cap would collapse either directly or through off budget payments.

  29. The draft is there to keep the league competitive, to give the worst teams the best shot at the young talent needed to turn their teams around.

    It’s also one of the forces keeping MLS from turning into something like the EPL where really only 3 maybe 4 teams have a shot at winning it all.

    While all the little rules seem stupid, it’s really there to promote competitive balance.

  30. That’s the only way College players really get into the league, everyone else just spends time in the MLS team academys and is promoted.

  31. I went to Liverpool last September, stayed at the Mariott downtown. One night in the hotel lobby/bar area on my laptop I heard a few people having a conversation w/ notable American accents. Wound up walking over and striking up a conversation with them. Started talking soccer… turns out the 2 guys I was talking with were Cody Arnoux & Anton Peterlin.

    It was pretty cool. Talked mostly w/ Cody, who was extremely friendly. So its good to hear some news about him. Thats my random story. lol

  32. I hate to admit this being a Sounders Fan but the Whitecaps have done a great job stockpiling talent and using this years USL season to build towards next year. There defense is tops in the USL and they brought in a steady stream of players that seem to be MLS material. If they can find some offense in the expansion/superdraft and international markets I think they could eclipse the Sounder’s first year success.

  33. I might have to go back to college to earn a degree in “MLS management” to understand the thick rulebook MLS governs by. Glad to see another young prospect is back home. MLS has really done well this year bringing in young and popular talent.


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