Lee Young-pyo may not be a household name, but his reported signing by the Vancouver Whitecaps could end up being a rather significant move. The 34-year-old South Korean fullback would instantly qualify as the biggest name player to come to MLS from an Asian country. He has also played for the Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur, Holland's PSV Eindhoven and the Bundesliga's Borsussia Dortmund, while becoming the third most capped player in South Korea's history.
Of course, Benjamin Massey over at Whitecaps blog 86 Forever is not exactly impressed. Massey notes that Young-pyo was not exactly a star at any of his stops, that he likely comes with a considerably price tag and was most recently playing in the Saudi Premier League.
Lee comes with less recent first-class experience than our other ex-Premier League defender, Jay DeMerit. He may well be more expensive, is certainly older, and has had some injury concerns in recent years. If Lee is expensive it's difficult to see the value in such a signing; ominously, it may just be Paul Barber intervening for an old buddy from his Tottenham days.
Massey's pessimism aside, the move might not be as crazy as he thinks. There are nearly 600,000 people of East and Southeast Asian decent in the Vancouver area and a player like Young-pyo would be highly recognizable to the soccer fans among them. At 34 years old, Young-pyo might not be in his prime, but he should have at least a few more good years in him.