The New York Cosmos have stated that Jamaican U-20 midfielder Andre Lewis will be loaned -- and not transferred -- to the Vancouver Whitecaps for the upcoming MLS season.
The Whitecaps selected Lewis with the seventh overall pick at last week’s MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia, following an impressive showing at the MLS Player Combine earlier in the week. Confusion then reigned however, when Goal.com reported that Lewis had signed a contract with the Cosmos, who play in the North American Soccer League.
The move left Vancouver facing the possibility of having wasted a first-round draft pick on a player who would be playing in another league. But late Friday, the Whitecaps and MLS stated via the league’s website that an agreement had already been reached with the reigning NASL champions for Lewis to play for Vancouver by securing a loan or an outright transfer.
Speaking exclusively to ESPNFC.com, Cosmos COO Erik Stover clarified the nature of Lewis’ impending move to Vancouver.
“We’ve reached an agreement for MLS to send Andre Lewis to Vancouver,” he said. “If the Whitecaps want to keep him after March 1, then we will finalize the arrangement as a loan with MLS.”
Given the relatively high draft pick the Whitecaps spent on Lewis, it’s practically assured he will make the club’s roster, though the amount of playing time he will receive is still in question. That said, it puts Vancouver in the awkward position of perhaps later paying a transfer fee to secure Lewis' rights, a cost normally not associated with drafted players.
The move amounts to a win for the Cosmos. NASL regulations only allow for seven international roster spots, and given the club’s penchant for aggressively filling those slots with veteran players, Lewis likely would have found playing time hard to come by. By going out on loan, the Jamaican stands a better chance of getting the playing time he needs for his development, with the Cosmos retaining his rights.