The long-rumored return of 2013 Vancouver Whitecaps PDL fullback Emmanuel Adjetey took place this weekend, closing a circle that opened three months ago and reinforcing the Charleston Battery’s talented but thin defensive corps.
That’s not to say that it’s clear what happened between the Whitecaps, the Battery and Adjetey between February and June. But the bottom line is that he’s in Charleston on loan, his visa has been approved, and he’s expected to be available for selection on Saturday night against the LA Galaxy II.
While we’re on the topic, don’t get too adjusted to the current Battery roster. At least as far as its Vancouver players are concerned. More on that below.
For those with only a vague memory of the 2013 Battery season, Adjetey was the least heralded of the three Vancouver players who donned the Black and Gold during the current affiliation’s original test run. Midfielders Bryce Alderson and Ben Fisk were promising Canadian youth internationals, and Alderson was already signed to an MLS contract. Adjetey, on the other hand, was an unknown prospect, a product of Vancouver’s Ghana connections who signed to the club’s PDL roster after a winter trial in British Columbia.
Yet of the three original Batcaps, it was Adjetey who enjoyed the most productive season. He improved steadily from his arrival in April to take over as a regular starter as the Battery heated up down the stretch last summer. Though short by MLS fullback standards, the 5-5 Adjetey offered explosive acceleration and a combative game-day demeanor. He was quiet and perhaps even shy off the pitch, but his aggressive style under the lights fit the personality of the team well.
All of which made him the topic of a lot of offseason speculation here. Yet when Vancouver opened its camp in January, Adjetey was nowhere to be seen. The 25-year-old stayed in sporadic communication with people in Charleston during the winter, but what he said was typically short and mysterious. This made the unspoken possibility of his joining the team a constant consideration both before and after Feb. 22, when his name appeared in the printed Battery roster the club handed out to fans filing into Blackbaud Stadium on the opening night of the Carolina Challenge Cup.
“You know, we’re waiting,” Coach Mike Anhaeuser said after the Seattle match that night. “That’s a Vancouver decision. Obviously we thought he was coming in, we thought he would be here with us, but he isn’t right now. So he’s just one of the players that is in with their mix, and we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Exactly what happened between Adjetey and the Whitecaps remains an open-ended question. Anhaeuser said Adjetey was playing in Ghana while he waited for something to get worked out, but otherwise avoided specifics. Asked what he could say about the process that brought him back, he said:
It wasn’t really a process. It’s just what happens with some players. Clearance, and getting visas. It’s not as easy as people think. Some work out that way.
Also it’s players and positions and need. Vancouver had possibly a need to look at some other players, and he wasn’t in. So I don’t even know the whole story.
But that’s what happens. Sometimes you have a player who is sitting and he’s here training every day and you can’t play him because he didn’t get cleared.
It’s kinda the same situation. And we’re not going worry about what happened. We’re not going to worry that this didn’t happen or that didn’t happen. We’re just happy he’s here right now. He looks pretty fit. We’ll see tomorrow. We’ll try to go about 60 minutes maybe. Probably no more. See where he is physically. Obviously he looks ready to go, but getting him right in there? We’ve still got a lot of games left.
The irony of the 2014 Battery is that this year’s team is deepest in the attacking ranks, yet has excelled only in defense, playing a four-man back line with a roster that’s counted just five defenders since the departure of Jackson Farmer on May 1. Colin Falvey, John Wilson, Taylor Mueller, Quinton Griffith and Shawn Ferguson have shared starting duties, with each typically going the full 90 when their turn in the rotation comes up.
Adding Adjetey to that mix could loosen things up a bit. He’s a two-footed fullback with the ability to play effectively as an outside midfielder. And with Griffith also fitting that description, Anhaeuser is already talking about pushing him up to midfield. Charleston played an effective 4-2-3-1 with Griffith at right midfield on May 31 against Orlando, but it was a starting formation that featured every single defender on the team roster.
“He adds a dimension,” Anhaeuser said. “Obviously now it’s up to him. If he’s going to get an opportunity to play and possibly break into the ranks, he’s got that chance now. And we can use him, because you know: We’ve been thin in the back.”
Until the first week in May, Charleston had six Whitecaps in the squad. Farmer left with forward Marlon Ramirez the night before the Harrisburg-Dayton trip, only to be joined by star forward Omar Salgado early the next week. Since then the Whitecaps contingent has been limited to first-round pick Andre Lewis, second-round pick Mamadou Diouf, and 2013 signing Aminu Abdallah. Abdallah, by the way, is a good friend of Adjetey’s from Ghana.
But in discussing Adjetey on Tuesday, Anhaeuser appeared to indicate that more changes to the Whitecaps contingent could be in the works.
“They have to decide what players they loan, and loan back,” Anhaeuser said. “It’s like they took Omar back, and Jackson and Marlon. And you know we might be seeing one or two come back and maybe one or two leave again in July. So that’s the things we have to deal with as a team, as a club, and even the players have to deal with.
“But it’s no different than injuries. Two guys get injured, it’s the same thing. If two guys leave it’s just like being two guys injured. Other guys have got to step in and do their job, be ready to go.”
TOP IMAGE: Emmanuel Adjetey trained with the Battery Tuesday in a session that started an hour earlier than usual because of the heat. Janet Edens Conover photos.