Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.
The panther is a solitary animal, elusive and rare, one rarely spotted because of its nocturnal nature.
Sergio Cordova, it seems, has lived up to his “La Pantera” nickname. He was rarely spotted, too.
The Vancouver Whitecaps are in the final stages of transferring the Venezuelan striker to Turkish Süper Lig side Alanyaspor, ending a short and forgettable tenure in Vancouver. The deal isn’t finalized yet.
Cordova splashed down in Vancouver from Augsburg in Germany — he’d spent 2022 on loan with Real Salt Lake — with massive expectations and the price tag to match: a US$2.2M transfer fee and US$1.05M salary. Vancouver also sent their 2024 MLS SuperDraft first-round pick and $300,000 in GAM to acquire him.
He didn’t score in his first 19 appearances across all competitions, dogged by a hamstring injury and adjusting to a new team, new country, new system.
It looked as if he’d found his footing when he scored in three straight appearances — off the bench in two league games against L.A. Galaxy and Austin, followed by a two-goal start vs. Leon in Leagues Cup — but fell back in the doldrums for the last five games.
His final tally in Vancouver: four goals, one assist in 26 games and 15 starts across all competitions.
When he did score, Cordova did it with style and panache, like his first goal for Vancouver against the Galaxy in August, where he patiently out-waited two defenders and the keeper before slotting home the calm finish.
But then there were the misses, the flubbed breakaways and mistimed runs. He also never seemed to consistently show the same venom in the press that other forwards exhibited, which plays a big role in Vanni Sartini’s playing system.
Cordova’s underlying numbers weren’t terrible, despite the glaring misses. The 6-foot-2 forward was fourth on the team in goals per 90 (0.20) and Expected Goals (0.30 xG), and sat just behind the big three of Ryan Gauld, Brian White and Julian Gressel in goal-creating actions. But for a player whose role was to stretch opposing back lines and find space to run into, he was only 11th in progressive passes received, the lowest of all Vancouver forwards.
His time as a DP was also Limited, with Richie Laryea looking to take that spot, depending on if the Caps can get a deal done over the off-season. Cordova’s salary was of a “Max TAM” level, meaning his cap hit could be bought down to non-DP status.
Looking back, it’s clear this wasn’t the best move for either party.
The 26-year-old’s move to Turkey, first reported by Argentine journalist César Luis Merlo, will be a permanent one. The transfer window in Turkey closes on Friday, the same day as Major League Soccer’s roster freeze.
The Caps could only add a player from outside of MLS or out of contract, as the league’s secondary transfer window closed, and sources with knowledge of the situation say there could be further incoming player movement.
But there isn’t a pressing need; White has been having a career year, still in striking distance of the MLS Golden Boot race with 10 goals this season — including scoring in five straight road games.
Behind him, first-year, first-team player Simon Becher is still marinating on the bench after his scintillating start to the year. He has five goals and an assist across all competitions, and makes $70,000 a year. Levonte Johnson is another 24-year-old showing promise at the forward spot.
Then there’s Gauld, the attacking midfielder/forward who is the nitro to White’s glycerine, with their chemistry and partnership a big part of why he’s the Caps all-time assists leader.
Gauld is leading MLS in goal contributions since May 31, getting 10 goals and seven assists over that span. In his last 14 games, across all competitions, that number balloons to 20.
White is tied with Fredy Montero for most MLS regular-season goals in team history with 26, but is second overall with 33 in all competitions.
Vancouver Whitecaps at Toronto FC
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. PT, BMO Field
TV: Apple Radio: AM730
How the Vancouver Whitecaps became the Kings of Cascadia — again
Whitecaps 1, NYCFC 1: Vancouver extends undefeated streak, even if it wasn’t pretty
Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.
You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited, ad-lite get unlimited, ad-lite access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.