Photo by ISIphotos.com
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.