Whitecaps sign Ousted to contract extension
VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps locked up another key player to a multi-year deal Tuesday by agreeing to a contract extension with all-star goalkeeper David Ousted.
The 31-year-old Dane made his debut for Vancouver on Aug. 3, 2013, after signing as a free agent and hasn’t looked back, playing every minute of Major League Soccer action during his time at the club.
“He’s an integral part of the spine of the team, a character guy in the locker-room,” head coach Carl Robinson said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have him in Vancouver for the long term.”
In recent months the Whitecaps have also inked multi-year extensions with workhorse midfielder Matias Laba and hulking defender Kendall Waston, who along with Ousted are influential to Vancouver’s setup.
The Whitecaps had a breakthrough season in 2015, finishing second in the Western Conference with a franchise-record 53 points before falling to Portland in the playoffs.
A lot of that success had to do with their goalkeeper. The Whitecaps tied for the fewest goals allowed in 2015, with Ousted finishing second in MLS with 16 wins and tied for first with 13 clean sheets.
“Vancouver has become a second home for my family,” he said. “I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and (am) excited about what the future holds.”
While the team would not confirm contract details, it’s believed the deal moves Ousted atop the pay list for MLS goalkeepers. He made US$302,570 last season, behind Bill Hamid of D.C. United ($405,500) and Nick Rimando of Real Sal Lake ($370,000).
Ousted holds a number of the Whitecaps’ all-time MLS regular-season records, including most career wins (32) and most career clean sheets (30). He also holds the club’s ironman record with 81 consecutive regular-season appearances.
In another move announced Tuesday, Vancouver bolstered its attack by acquiring striker Blas Perez from FC Dallas in exchange for veteran midfielder Mauro Rosales.
Perez, who agreed to a one-year deal, has been training with the Whitecaps and already appeared in two pre-season games. The 34-year-old Panama international was a central figure for Dallas in a number of heated clashes with Vancouver — including a memorable 2014 playoff game — but will now suit up for the Whitecaps.
“We know Blas is an excellent player from playing against him in the past four years and we’re excited to get the chance to work with him on a daily basis,” said Robinson. “In the short period of time that he’s been here, he’s shown how he can help our team and also our group of forwards improve.
“We’re delighted to have him on board and the guys have welcomed him with open arms.”
Perez recorded 36 goals and 14 assists in 97 regular-season appearances for Dallas from 2012-’15. He has also played club soccer in Panama, Uruguay, Colombia, Spain, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.
Perez, who stands second in goals with 39 and third in appearances with 102 for Panama, announced his departure from Dallas in December in an open letter to fans in which he said he wanted to stay “but the board and technical staff have other plans.”
The 34-year-old Rosales has 13 goals and 48 assists in 142 MLS games with Seattle, Chivas USA and Vancouver. He had one goal and three assists in 24 appearances last season.
The Whitecaps previously added Japanese forward Masato Kudo, who along with Perez should push Octavio Rivero for playing time.
“I’m very excited about this new opportunity,” said Perez. “I appreciate the confidence from the club and coaching staff, and I hope to repay it on the pitch.”