The Bad Guy

You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. - Tony Montana

Few in Major League Soccer have replicated the theatrical audacity of Al Pacino's performance in Scarface to the same extent as Blas Perez. Observing the simulation, the malice, and the general lack of ethics within the Panamanian's game has represented a repulsive feature to every meeting with the Hoops. The animosity that exists between Dallas and the Caps is largely owed to his maligned conduct, as the chief instigator of vitriol in Oscar Pareja's team previously. After incidents like this, the scrutiny he's been subjected to at BC Place is completely justified.

The 34-year-old exacerbated the hatred associated with his name in Upper Cascadia by inflicting pain on his Canadian adversaries in more sophisticated fashion too. There was the brace back in 2014 that included this seemingly impossible effort, among countless other contests where he got the better of an emotionally fragile Vancouver back-line. His movement off the ball and ability to incorporate others into the attack, coupled with the territory he assumes under the skin, have challenged Carl Robinson's side unlike any striker in the league.

Yogi Berra once said baseball is ninety percent mental and that the other half is physical. This memorable malapropism on the national pastime applies with equal relevance to the beautiful game, where matches are frequently won and lost on the basis of psychological fortitude. That much has been demonstrated by Super Ratón in the occasions where he has come up against his former nemesis north of the border. The same methodical brilliance we came to loathe during his time at Toyota Stadium ought to be celebrated with equal fervour in his new home.

Some have expressed concern at the addition of Blas reinforcing the club's reputation as an outfit imbued with cynicism. The volume of fouls committed by the Caps and the accusations of embellishment directed at many of the Latin American players will in theory strengthen in consensus with this injection of Panamanian energy. Moreover, it appears likely that others across the league will come to detest the team in the same manner they have become hostile towards Dallas with Perez's involvement. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing for VWFC.

I believe a case study is needed to elaborate on this point, and the Bad Boys era in the NBA during the late eighties would certainly be an appropriate parallel to draw. The Detroit Pistons captured the Larry O'Brien trophy in back-to-back seasons in '89 and '90 on the foundation of their willingness to win at all costs. Everyone on that team was galvanized by their shared devotion to that end, and their assumed malevolence was ultimately responsible for their triumph. Who cares about national resentment when you have two rings to your name?

Detroit encountered failure and adversity before reaching that pinnacle, though. There was the agonizing defeat to Boston in the '87 postseason, much alike that playoff loss down in Frisco, and twelve months later Detroit succumbed to the Lakers after Isiah Thomas went down with an ankle injury - Kekuta's knock in last year's postseason anyone? Isiah somehow produced one of the greatest Finals performances of all time on his remaining healthy ankle, but there is a lot in common when comparing the Bad Boys with the current iteration of the Whitecaps.

Incidentally, at the 1989 trade deadline, Pistons GM Jack McCloskey exchanged fan-favourite Adrian Dantley for Dallas Mavericks forward Mark Aguirre in a move instantly met with outrage. Dantley had played an integral part in the creation of the Bad Boys identity, while Aguirre had earned a reputation for selfishness and petulant behaviour as a Mav. The introduction of Aguirre is now regarded as what pushed Detroit over the top, and decades later another deal involving an individual joining from Dallas has been made with the same impact in mind.

Carl Robinson harbours the same intentions as McCloskey - a strategist also revered for his astute team-building - before the Pistons proceeded to win their first two NBA championships. McCloskey knew the Aguirre-Dantley trade would initially polarize the fanbase, however remained convinced in the improvement it would exert on and off the court. To this day some are still disappointed in the decision, just as some will refuse to worship Perez wearing a Caps jersey. But everyone enjoyed the same euphoria delivered by Aguirre when the confetti fell.

I'm of an opinion that many reading this will no doubt object to, that the club shouldn't consider the reaction of supporters if a decision can better the product on the field. If you can't abandon your seething dislike for Blas when he's devoting the same intensity in Vancouver, that's your problem. We are constantly reminded by those occupying the biggest platforms that soccer is a results business, and the same narratives that accompanied the Will Johnson speculation a few months earlier are even more pertinent when discussing these circumstances.

Perez isn't blessed with the same luxury of being Canadian that Johnson enjoyed when he was linked with a return to his home country. Let's face it: there are certainly some observers out there who would foam at the mouth if the Whitecaps signed a watering can to play up front if it were manufactured in Manitoba. That's somewhat understandable, especially considering the culture that demands Canadian participation by any means necessary, however nationality shouldn't have absolved TFC's shiny new midfielder from the same criticism extended to Blas.

Although one would have expected more minutes in the starting line-up for Johnson, the arrival of another antagonist in the form of Perez has scope to reap just as many rewards. There is a philosophy in the squad that the team is disrespected south of the border and that it doesn't get the recognition it merits from most. Even without playing ninety minutes every week Blas can help to further utilise that mentality as a method of motivation. The wily veteran will eradicate any uncertainty as to what the roster's personal mission statement represents.

Nobody will gain more from this acquisition than Octavio Rivero. Masato Kudo will help in how his presence can delegate responsibility from the Uruguayan DP, and in how the immediate boost in competition should encourage even further industry on a day-to-day basis. Perez can offer that to some degree, but his value in the development of El Cabeza will likely come in more of a mentorship capacity. They have a number of mutual characteristics, particularly in the facets of their play that demand the most of a forward from that crucial mental standpoint.

The rigour of the lone striker role evidently took its toll on Rivero in the latter stages of the campaign, having played to such a high standard for months on end beforehand. Adapting to a new environment didn't make matters easier for the side's top-scorer in the regular season, and the pressure to produce in such excessive quantity made his predicament a practical impossibility after a while. That's all part of his learning curve though, and Perez can teach him how to harness lessons from the darker days in order to create a brighter future for himself.

Rivero has displayed the ingredients of the killer instinct that has earned his new team-mate his success leading the line. During his prolific run of games in the spring there was no stopping the 24-year-old; he was always one step ahead of the back-line thanks to his remarkable vision and tenacity up top. Octavio remained an exceptional thinker throughout the year, however ceded some of his lethal contribution to play when he lost his confidence. Without the belief that inspired his goal-scoring production in March and April he was always going to be limited.

Being surrounded by Blas - a guy that has learned to embrace the cold reception he is afforded by his adversaries - should remedy the element of self-doubt in Rivero's actions. Perez doesn't ever become apprehensive when the soundtrack of jeers that follows his borderline immoral antics heightens in volume. It would be of huge benefit to Octavio if he could obtain the same indifference to unsympathetic surroundings, even if it means taking the same heel turn as Perez and attaining the same negative connotation. Good is a point of view, Anakin.

One of the main reasons to be excited about Perez heading to Vancouver relates to his potential influence when playoff soccer rolls around. He changed the dynamic of the Western Conference final second leg after coming on midway through the second half - the substitution created newfound impetus in possession as he stretched Portland's jaded defence relentlessly. Blas headed past Adam Kwarasey off a Mauro Diaz free-kick shortly after entering the match, and was only denied from forcing extra time by a ridiculous block from Nat Borchers.

Imagine if Robbo could have called upon Perez in the round prior to the Dallas-Portland series. Manneh's ill-fated injury wouldn't have sealed the team's fate, and much less asked would have been asked of the exhausted Rivero. In essence, Super Ratón will fulfil Robert Earnshaw's former function with higher expectations of production and from his intangibles. Whether he becomes Mark Aguirre or educates Octavio on the dark side of the force, Blas Perez puts the 2016 Whitecaps in a better position to achieve than last year's edition. Nothing else matters.

It's been plugged by everyone with a keyboard, but the MLS Insider feature on the two sides of Perez is well worth a watch if you're yet to take a look. Be sure to keep up to date with the From The Backline podcast - the best place for Whitecaps insight and discussion - for more on Blas and everything else going on at the club. Episode 115 includes an enthralling chat with former Caps midfielder Mauro Rosales and a whole lot more.