VANCOUVER -- Rumours became reality Thursday as the Vancouver Whitecaps signed veteran Danish goalkeeper David Ousted.
Pending receipt of his international transfer certificate, the former Danish Superliga star will be eligible to play in Major League Soccer on July 9. He can't play sooner because an international transfer window does not open before then.
"We just felt that if we didn't (sign him) in this window, he would go elsewhere," said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "We felt we were in a situation where it was important to lock him up."
Ousted's arrival was expected following several recent media reports in Denmark that linked him to the Whitecaps.
Ousted, 28, played 10 seasons in Denmark, including four campaigns in the top-flight Superliga. He earned 35 clean sheets in 103 matches for Randers FC over the past three seasons while helping the club finish third in the 2012-13 Superliga and qualify for the UEFA Europa League.
The six-foot-three Roskilde native made 39 total appearances in the final season in his homeland, earning 14 clean sheets. Six of his appearances came as he helped Randers reach the Danish Cup final, where it lost 1-0 to Esbjerg fB.
He also made six appearances for Randers in the 2010-11 UEFA Europa League.
The Whitecaps pursued Ousted after Vancouver's goalkeeping coach Marius Rovde, a Norwegian who is tapped into the Scandinavian market, learned that he was out of contract and available. Given Ousted's age, said Lenarduzzi, the club believes he can help in the short and long terms.
"He sets a very commanding presence," said Lenarduzzi, who has seen him on video. "He's (about) six-four and is a good shot stopper. His size would suggest that he's quite comfortable coming for crosses in the box."
Ousted's acquisition raises questions about Brad Knighton's status as Vancouver's starting goalkeeper. But Lenarduzzi said Knighton, who sports a 3-1-1 without a clean sheet, remains the club's starter for the time being.
"(Knighton) is the incumbent right now, and how he plays will determine when Ousted gets to start," said Lenarduzzi.
Ousted arrived in Vancouver on Thursday and will join his new teammates on the pitch Monday as the team resumes training following a break. But Knighton, 28, who is in his second season with Vancouver, has a chance to retain his job for at least the next three games, between June 29 and July 7, until Ousted is eligible to play. The Whitecaps (6-5-4) had a habit of giving up leads earlier in the season, but have lost only one game with Knighton in net.
"(Ousted) needs to come in and earn a spot," said Lenarduzzi.
Knighton said recently that the starter's job is his to lose and welcomed the extra competition.
With Ousted's acquisition, the Whitecaps have four goalkeepers on their roster, with 16-year veteran Joe Cannon, 38, and rookie Simon Thomas, 23, of Victoria also in tow. The club plans to keep all four until the end of the regular season, and will not be required to make a move based on roster numbers.
"Carrying four goalkeepers is not that uncommon in MLS," said Lenarduzzi. "Seattle did it last year. Each of the 'keepers are at different stages of their careers. Simon Thomas is at the start of his career as the third 'keeper, and (Knighton) is a veteran of MLS and is looking to establish himself as a No. 1, and (Cannon) is in the twilight of his career."
Lenarduzzi said the coaching staff sat down with the three holdover goalkeepers as rumours of Ousted's signing emerged to make them aware of what would happen.
Ousted's arrival signals the end of Cannon's tenure with the Whitecaps, with the departure date pending as he plays out the final year of his contract. Cannon began the season as the starter but was displaced by Knighton for the second consecutive season.
"We sat down and talked to (Cannon) and wanted to make sure that we help him into transitioning into the next phase of his career, if that's something that he's looking to do. ... Right now, he's competing for a goalkeeping spot until the end of the season," said Lenarduzzi.
With Ousted's acquisition, the Whitecaps have now developed considerable depth at every position, even with three central defenders sidelined with injuries.
"We feel like we have a roster that has covered most positions," said Lenarduzzi.
The Caps president said the club still could make another move once the international transfer window opens, but it will avoid extensive changes like the ones that "probably impacted the chemistry of the team" last season.
"Like most clubs, we're always looking to strengthen the roster," said Lenarduzzi.