New Whitecaps coach wants to play attacking style, develop young players

Jim Morris - Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Teitur Thordarson was named the new coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps Tuesday, saying he wants the United Soccer Leagues team to play an exciting, attacking game while developing young players through the club's youth system.

"Football is about results," said Thordarson, 55, a native of Iceland, who spent three years as head coach of Estonia's national team. "There are different ways to get results.

"My philosophy has always been to play attacking football. That is something we will try to do."

Thordarson spent 11 years coaching in Norway's top flight and five years in Estonia. As head coach of Estonia's national team he took a side ranked 145th by the FIFA world rankings in January 1996 and moved them to 68th by November 1999.

The native of Akranes, Iceland, admitted he knows little about Canadian soccer. He decided to accept the Vancouver job after talking with Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi and Even Pellerud, the head coach of Canada's national women's soccer team, who also coached in Norway.

Thordarson said he was impressed with the Whitecaps youth and residency programs.

"I was excited when I came over here to see the work the club has been doing," he said. "There is good ground work already there. It makes it a lot easier to bring players forward."

Developing your own players is the key to winning champions, said Thordarson.

"You have to do that, especially when you are not so big that you can buy what you want," he said. "On the way to becoming a very good football club you have to develop you own players and bring them forward to the professional system in your club."

Thordarson, who signed a two-year contract, said he also joined the Whitecaps because of the team's desire to become part of Major League Soccer by 2011.

"That's one of the things I found very interesting, that the aim of the club in the future is to go there," he said.

Thordarson becomes the sixth head coach in the Whitecaps' 22nd season of play. He replaces Bob Lilley who guided Vancouver to the 2006 USL First Division championship but was fired on Sept. 18 after the team was eliminated from the first-round of this year's playoffs after struggling to a 9-7-12 record.

Lenarduzzi said Thordarson has a history of developing young talent.

"We're not going to abandon the senior players by any means, but the one thing we can control is the development of a young infrastructure," said Lenarduzzi.

"What we need is someone at the top of our pyramid to be willing to play the younger players that are performing well in the residency (program), at the same time understanding you need that core of senior players."

Lenarduzzi also wants a change in the Whitecaps attitude.

"I'm looking for our players to show an urgency for 90 minutes, to really demonstrate they want to win that particular game," he said. "It's easy to become cautious and sometimes go through he motions.

"That's not something we want to have demonstrated by our players moving forward."

Whitecaps captain Jeff Clarke said he welcomes the different energy a new coach brings but was intrigued by management's desire to play a more exciting game.

"We like to think we played an exciting style," said Clarke. "Hopefully he won't come and expect us to play like Barcelona or Arsenal.

"You have to play within your means. The next six months will be interesting to see what that definition is."

As a player, Thordarson is a former captain for his native Iceland. He earned 41 caps, 39 starts, and scored nine goals.