Teitur meets friend Gerard Houllier

Vancouver Whitecaps men’s team head coach Teitur Thordarson met an old friend during a trip to the United States last week.

The Icelandic tactician was in Baltimore, Maryland, with assistant coach Todd Wawrousek and manager of soccer operations Greg Anderson, for the annual National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention.

It was in Baltimore that the former Estonia national team head coach met former Liverpool, Lyon, and France manager Gerard Houllier. During his playing days, Thordarson played for Houllier in the early 1980’s at French giants Racing Club de Lens. “He was my coach in France when I played there, so I know him very well and it was nice to speak to him,” Thordarson told whitecapsfc.com on Friday. “I just came from a practical session that he held here at the Convention, while I also attended a very interesting technical session that he conducted on Thursday.”

Houllier was one of several high-profile presenters at this year’s NSCAA Convention, which is considered to be the largest annual gathering of soccer coaches in the world. With the majority of attendees coming from around North America, the event was Thordarson’s first real opportunity to become more familiar with soccer in the United States and Canada. “I’m very satisfied with having attended this event,” he revealed. “I feel it has been very useful in helping me get to know North American soccer better in a variety of ways, as there were lots of interesting conferences here in Baltimore.”

One of the main highlights of the 2008 NSCAA Convention was this year’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft, as all 14 MLS clubs selected some of the finest talent to come out of the NCAA college soccer ranks. For Thordarson, the draft process is a new concept to him, as he has been used to a different player recruitment system from his time in Europe. “It is the first time that I’ve seen anything like that,” Thordarson said of the SuperDraft. “This was a very interesting thing, but it was very professionally run. This was totally new for me and so different from how clubs in Europe bring in players. I felt the whole process was very interesting.”

While MLS clubs were looking at players for the future in Baltimore, Thordarson and Wawrousek also took the opportunity to stage an ‘invitation-only’ player combine on Saturday morning. “All of those players that will be there are very interesting players, so for us, it will be a question of trying to find out if these players are ones that we would like to have in our team,” Thordarson said. “We have a lot of good players already, so it’s just a matter of completing the group with some new faces. There are a lot of people in the club that have done a fantastic job to make Saturday’s scouting session possible. Todd Wawrousek has done a tremendous job to organize this, as this will be very useful for me.”

Whitecaps professional teams director Greg Anderson snapped some shots of the combine, which you can view in our photo gallery.

The Saturday session marked the beginning of preseason for Thordarson and the men’s team, as the first-year coach looks ahead to his inaugural campaign with the Whitecaps. “From the session on Saturday, and from training with our locally-based players next week, we will aim to complete much of our roster for the new season.”

The men’s team begin their preseason program on Tuesday with a training session at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.