Welcome to Vancouver: Andy O’Brien signs on with Whitecaps FC

Luck of the Irish?

On Wednesday morning, the Whitecaps‘ Martin Rennie veered off the Scottish trend, but not by far, signing Irish international Andy O’Brien.

O’Brien is a veteran of over 300 English Premiership appearances, including 120 with big club Newcastle United.  He last played for Leeds United, where he started his youth career.

A true center back, he will be another veteran presence on a back line that already includes South Korean international Y.P. Lee.

Like new teammate Lee, he will bring a lot to the club, including:


Mentioned above, Andy O’Brien is a veteran in England, appearing in over 300 matches for various clubs.  With a generally young team, Martin Rennie has done an excellent job mixing in international veterans, including Barry RobsonKenny Miller and now O’Brien.

When Rennie was hesitant to start Carlyle Mitchell over Jay DeMerit in last week’s loss to Real Salt Lake, it was in large part because of Mitchell’s last start where he looked uncomfortable.

O’Brien will bring a presence to the team that will help groom youngsters Mitchell and Greg Klazura.

Depth to the back line

Quite often this season, Martin Rennie has had only one defender as a substitute to start matches, Jordan Harvey, who comes on as a holding midfielder rather than a defender more times than not.  Having O’Brien on the team will make Martin Bonjour go to the bench, or O’Brien himself.

As we saw against RSL, depth is invaluable.

The World doesn’t revolve around DeMerit anymore

Don’t get me wrong, Jay DeMerit is absolutely one of the premier defenders in all of Major League Soccer, and has been the most important piece of Vancouver’s turn around this season.  But Rennie should not have started him in the match following the All-Star game.

Going back even further, against New England in May; Rennie left DeMerit in Vancouver to rest for the CONCAF Championship game later in the week.  The result? A 4-1 defeat to a squad that is currently sitting second last in their division.

Andy O'Brien

Andy O’Brien is a veteran in England, appearing in over 300 matches for various clubs. (Photo Credit Sky Sports)

Having O’Brien would have allowed DeMerit to start and O’Brien to stay in Vancouver or vice versa.


Going away from the intangibles Andy O’Brien brings, he brings talent to a team already oozing with talent.  He brings the kind of talent that Martin Bonjour brings.

Calmness to the backline, one that the team was missing last season.  He isn’t going to shock anyone with his speed up the line ala Dane Richards or score any goals seen around the world like Eric Hassli but he will absolutely stop those kinds of goals from being scored against the ‘Caps.

Just ask rival L.A. Galaxy or Eastern powerhouse New York Red Bulls, there is no such thing as to much talent.

International Recognition

This point is more for the fans rather than the team.  Ask any fan of the Seahawks, Mariners, any Northwest team.  Being so far away from other teams, it is hard to get recognition.

Having another world class player on the team will bring us another step closer to being a poster boy of success for the league, similar to what the Seattle Sounders have made for themselves.

Regardless of Andy O’Brien’s performance in Vancouver, I can promise you that the fans support for the team and coach Martin Rennie will not waiver.

Check out C-Mac’s Watching The Wave for some video on O’Neil.


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