The Whitecaps reluctantly said goodbye to their all-time MLS appearance leader in Gershon Koffie on Thursday, trading him to the New England Revolution for general allocation money and targeted allocation money. The Whitecaps will also receive a percentage of any future transfer fee obtained by New England for the 24-year-old.
The deal should free up salary cap space for Vancouver to complete the long-awaited signing of striker Blas Perez from FC Dallas, with the Panamanian international having been in preseason camp with the Blue and White for the past week.
"It's never easy parting ways with a player like Gersh, someone I admire greatly," Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson said in a club statement. "From the first day I met Gersh in 2011 until today, we have had a fantastic relationship, and that will continue as he continues his football development. I consider him a friend."
Koffie’s move to New England makes sense for both clubs heading into the 2016 campaign. Vancouver needed a way to fit Perez into its salary cap budget, and the club already is blessed with defensive midfield options in Deybi Flores, Matias Laba and Russell Teibert.
The Revolution, meanwhile, were in need of midfield reinforcements after the club opted not to re-sign U.S. international Jermaine Jones and incoming designated player Xavier Kouassi suffered a major knee injury with Swiss side Sion last weekend.
The trade sees Koffie reunited with New England assistant coach Tom Soehn. As the Whitecaps director of soccer operations, Soehn brought the midfielder to Vancouver from Ghanaian outfit International Allies in September 2010.
“Gershon is a strong central midfield player who, at just 24, has proven success and experience in MLS,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a club statement. “We’re pleased we were able to acquire him and we look forward to getting him into camp with the rest of our players and coaching staff as soon as possible.”
Though the deal is a sensible one, Koffie’s departure from Canada’s west coast will disappoint many Whitecaps fans, as the West African had become a fan favorite in his five MLS seasons with Vancouver. He holds the club record for most MLS appearances with 120 and is one of only two players to have played more than 10,000 MLS minutes with the Blue and White.
"Words cannot explain my love for Vancouver,” Koffie said. “Vancouver has a room in my heart and it owns the key. I am thankful for all the time and support the fans, my teammates, coaches, support staff and front office have provided over the last five plus years. I understand that this is a business and this move will make me stronger, will help me grow as a player and as a person. I am ready to embrace this new challenge and look forward to this new opportunity. I love you, Vancouver.”