Coach not worried about making jump with Caps to MLS - The Province


BY MARC WEBER

Teitur Thordarson is a man unconcerned with what it will take to win the Major League Soccer coaching job for the Whitecaps in 2011.

There's a simple reason: Even if he knew in fine detail what the evaluation process entailed, he wouldn't alter his approach.

"I will not change much during this season here," the Icelandic bench boss said after training Friday.

"I will definitely be quite a bit of the same. I think if I haven't been able to convince the people in the club about my qualities as a coach the last two seasons, then I don't know what has to be added to it."

Asked if there was a level of results that would make it impossible not to renew Thordarson's deal, Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said: "That's a really hypothetical question that I can't answer. Coaching is results-oriented, but there are other factors as well."

It's unclear exactly what those other factors are. How much Thordarson and recently hired director of soccer operations Tommy Soehn see eye-to-eye will obviously play a role. And Lenarduzzi made reference to bringing along the residency players, dealing with the fans, community and media, and helping to grow the game.

Thordarson can certainly claim to have achieved some success in those aspects, too, in addition to a USL-1 title, a second-place finish, and a near-miss in last year's Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

"In addition to everything he's done on the field, he's a quality guy," said Lenarduzzi, who along with ownership and top management will make a collective decision on the coach.

The reality is, the club could win the double this year -- take the USSF D-2 league title and the Nutrilite crown -- and there will still be an interest in who else is out there. A Canadian? An MLS veteran? Someone with an international pedigree?

Thordarson, 58, is perhaps not out to prove anything further this season so much as he's simply waiting on his competition to arrive.

They'll have an impressive resume to go up against.

His 20-plus years in coaching have included stints under former France manager Gerard Houllier and current Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. He coached Estonia to a 77-spot climb in the FIFA World Rankings.

As a striker, Thordarson's 20-year career included a 19-goal season with Ligue 1 side Racing Club de Lens.

Following his initial two-year deal with the Whitecaps signed in Dec. 2007, Thordarson signed a one-year extension last November with no guarantees of employment beyond this season.

Caps captain Martin Nash isn't assured of an MLS spot yet either, but he threw his support behind Thordarson this week.

"I hope we have a good year for him and the players work for him," said Nash. "And if we can do what we did the last two years, I think he deserves it.

"I think he deserves it anyway."

Most impressive, Nash said, was the way Thordarson dealt with last year's turmoil. Slumping in the league standings and dealing with the fallout from an in-game scrap between teammates, another in practice, and lingering bitterness from their harsh Nutrilite exit, the Caps rallied to make the USL-1 final.

How much that will play into Thordarson's favour, like everything else, we'll have to wait to see.

"I don't even think about it," Thordarson said of next season. "I just go out and do my job and it's just as simple as that."

mweber@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province