[MLS] For the first time, an MLS team has dipped into the African talent pool to sign a Designated Player. Gambian striker Mustapha Jarju, 24, was introduced Tuesday by Vancouver, which already has Frenchman Eric Hassli on its books as a DP.
Once his international transfer certificate is received by the league office, Jarju will be eligible to play. He could suit up as early as Saturday, when the Whitecaps host Real Salt Lake, because the secondary transfer window opens Friday.
“Mustapha is a proven goalscorer at the club level in Europe," said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi in a team press release announcing the deal. "He has pace and the ability to find the back of the net with regularity, as he did during his successful spell in Belgium. Mustapha will be a great addition to our strike force."
Jarju, a Gambian international, played the last three seasons in Belgium for Royal Albert-Elisabeth Club (RAEC) de Mons, for which he scored 18 goals in 33 league appearances during the 2010-11 season as the club gained promotion to the Jupiler Pro League, the top division in Belgium.
The 6-foot, 160-pound striker scored 43 goals in 118 appearances during his time with RAEC Mons.
“I had many options throughout Europe and the Middle East, but Whitecaps FC made me feel very welcome and the city is beautiful," said Jarju. "Recently, I have watched several matches and believe the club is ready to push for the playoffs.”
Jarju, a native of Bangu, played in Gambia for Reggae Boys, Wallidan, Racing Star, and Steve Biko FC prior to moving to Belgium, where he first played two seasons -- one in the Juliper Pro League -- and scored 26 goals for Lierse SK. He has played for his country's senior team 25 times and scored four goals after representation at the U-17, U-20, and U-23 levels. He captained the U-17 and U-20 squads.
He joins five other Gambian representatives in MLS.
Gambians in MLS
Kenny Mansally, New England 22
Sainey Nyassi, New England 22
Sanna Nyassi, Colorado 22
Omar Jasseh, San Jose 18
Mamadou Danso, Portland 28
Mustapha Jarju, Vancouver 25