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Scottish international star midfielder looks forward to playing for Whitecaps

06/18/2012 05:35 EDT | Updated 08/18/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Veteran soccer star Barry Robson knows the North American game brings some different challenges. The Scottish midfielder is looking forward to tackling them.

He began another chapter in his storied career Monday by joining the Vancouver Whitecaps. The 33-year-old was formally introduced by the Major League Soccer club at a news conference at B.C. Place Stadium.

Robson said he believes he'll be up for the challenge of excelling in MLS, which incorporates systems and playing philosophies from around the world.

"I've played a lot in Europe — Champions League, UEFA Cup, a bit more international — so I know what it's about," said Robson. "I know the different cultures, different styles. This is going to be a totally different one again that I'm going to have to learn and adapt to."

Robson was signed by the Whitecaps in the off-season but had to wait until he completed his contract with Middlebrough of the English Premier League.

He has started training with the Whitecaps but can't officially join the roster until an international transfer window opens June 27. He will be eligible for selection in his first game July 4 in Colorado against the Rapids and can suit up for his first home contest July 18 against Dallas.

Robson played for Scotland in the 2008 World Cup and has also starred for Glasgow Celtic and Dundee United. The Whitecaps signed him after new coach Martin Rennie scouted him extensively in the winter.

Rennie didn't expect to get him under contract, figuring Robson would have several opportunities. He was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to join the club in February.

"It just didn't seem realistic to a few people I spoke to," Rennie said. "But thankfully it turned out to be the case that it was realistic and we're really happy that he's here because we think he can add a lot on the field and off the field. We think he can add a lot in the locker-room."

Robson, who declined a chance to re-sign with Middlesbrough, said he did have some other options but wanted to sign with Vancouver.

Rennie is confident Robson will help raise the standard of the club, as Korean star defender Young-Pyo Lee has done. The Whitecaps must move a player to create a roster spot for Robson and while Rennie has made his decison, he declined to tip his hand.

Robson, who can play central midfield or on the right side, is confident he can make the adjustment to playing regular matches over the summer months. The coach is looking for Robson to score some goals, making up for a lack of production from his midfielders.

Robson said he has always strived to make teams better wherever he has gone, but is not making any bold promises.

"I'm here to do a job, and I'm here to help the team win their cup," said Robson.

Although he is a designated player earning one of the top salaries on the club, Robson said he will have to earn a starter spot. The Whitecaps, 7-3-4 heading into Wednesday's game against the New York Red Bulls, are undefeated in four MLS games.

"I'm going to work hard and wait for my chance to get on the team," said Robson.

The Whitecaps have already surpassed the six wins they mustered all of last season. President Bob Lenarduzzi said the Caps hope to build on their momentum with the addition of Robson.

"It's an indicator that the club is committed to putting as good a product on the field as possible," said Lenarduzzi.

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