Lyall back at school
This time last year, the 31-year-old was trying to pursue a career in British soccer after joining Walsall FC midway through the 2006/07 English League Two campaign. After making 11 reserve team appearances, Walsall opted to release Lyall, with the Victoria, BC, native making a return to the Whitecaps last June.
With the 2008 USL First Division season beginning on April 12, Lyall is looking to life after professional soccer by beginning his career in the world of education. The former University of Victoria standout is currently serving as a substitute teacher at his alma mater in Glenlyon Norfolk School. “It’s been going well,” Lyall said of his teaching spell to whitecapsfc.com. “I’ve been teaching everything from physical education to English and French. On Thursday, I was teaching some Grade 8 volleyball.”
Part of Lyall’s off-season training program has included time with some of his old teams on Vancouver Island. “I’ve been helping out a little bit with the men’s and women’s teams at Bays United, as well as training with them,” he said. “I’ve also been training with the University of Victoria team under head coach Bruce Wilson and doing some fitness on my own.”
The defender is hoping for better fortune on the injury front in 2008, having picked up an ankle problem in the Whitecaps playoff defeat away to Portland Timbers last September. “It was still pretty bad during the LA Galaxy game in November, but it’s a lot better now,” Lyall said. “The ankle is a bit sore here and there. I did a couple of road runs on it over Christmas, but I’ve been mainly staying off the cement because it doesn’t help it. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of fitness on my bicycle. I think it will be sore throughout the year, but the last resort would be to have surgery and clean it out. If you have an operation on an ankle, things like scar tissue and an infection can occur, so hopefully I won’t need to go under the knife.”
Having been in England when the 2007 USL-1 season began, Lyall returned to find competition at the right fullback position. The emergence of youngster Lyle Martin proved to be a bright spot in what was a disappointing campaign for Vancouver in 2007, and Lyall admits he may be needed in a more versatile defensive role this year. “At my age, my pace is not what it used to be when I was in my mid-20’s,” he said. “When you’re competing against a guy like Lyle, it’s almost no contest, as he’s got to be the fastest guy in the league. It’ll be interesting as to how I can help out the team. It might be at the right fullback position, it might be at centre back. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
With Teitur Thordarson having succeeded Bob Lilley as head coach, Lyall is anxious to see what direction the men’s team takes under the Icelandic tactician’s leadership. “Every February and March, I get excited to head over to Vancouver and play again, but even more so this year with the new coach in charge,” Lyall revealed. “You got to look forward to being taught new things and new ways of playing. It will be very interesting to see how the team adjusts from the system we played under Bob Lilley. I don’t know how different Teitur will be, but it will be interesting to see if we play our positions in a different way or not.”