What's in a player?
The off-season at Vancouver Whitecaps FC is a time when staff members work on several projects to wrap up one season and prepare for another.
In my case, there are many items to write up or update regarding the club, the teams, and the players. With less than a month before the start of Whitecaps FC’s second season in Major League Soccer, one of my big tasks – and one of my most enjoyable – is writing up the biographies of the players that will play for the Blue and White in the 2012 campaign.
With a new head coach in Martin Rennie taking charge, it came as little surprise that the club’s MLS roster would have a new look. Over a dozen new faces have arrived on Canada’s west coast this off-season, with the hope that these new players will significantly improve Whitecaps FC following a challenging first season in MLS. For me, it meant an opportunity to learn more about these new players and their careers through the research and writing of their bios. It is safe to say that the ‘Caps have a squad made up of many different backgrounds. My experience of writing Whitecaps FC player bios over the years has not only given me a basic insight into a player at the club, but his pedigree as a professional as well.
The first new player that comes to mind is Young-Pyo Lee. It is hard to ignore the qualities and experiences that the former South Korean international brings to the ‘Caps, having played in three FIFA World Cup finals and with some of Europe’s top clubs. Yet, the fun part of writing player bios is some of the interesting facts that can be discovered. Should Vancouver win the Amway Canadian Championship this season, Lee would have the rare distinction of possibly playing in three different Champions League competitions (Europe, Asia, and CONCACAF).
Sometimes, the interesting facts are less tied to the player, but the league or competitions they play in. In writing the bio of new centre back Martin Bonjour (pictured), not only did I learn more about the domestic game in Uruguay, I discovered that the Peruvian top flight played the equivalent of two full seasons in a calendar year (over 50 games). That is quite a lot of soccer to decide a domestic championship…one would think…
Then there are the interesting ties between Rennie and his players. Aside from the obvious ones that stand out, there were a couple of interesting ones that came to my attention. In editing Jordan Harvey’s bio, I discovered that the defender had faced Rennie back in 2005 when both were in the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). It occurred during the playoffs that year, as Harvey’s Orange County Blue Star defeated a Rennie-led Cascade Surge 3-0 to win the PDL’s Western Conference title. That match was Rennie’s last as a PDL head coach, as he moved on to the United Soccer Leagues Second Division (USL-2) with Cleveland City Stars. It was with Cleveland that the Scotsman’s side contested midfielder Matt Watson’s Richmond Kickers for the 2007 USL-2 regular season title. Richmond claimed top spot from Cleveland by two points that season.
Even the facts regarding the new players can be tied back to Whitecaps FC alumni. This season, midfielder Jun Marques Davidson will follow in the footsteps of former ‘Caps left fullback Takashi Hirano by having played for Vancouver and Japanese J.League club Omiya Ardija.
For me, writing Whitecaps FC bios has been a fascinating experience. While the knowledge learned does help with my duties throughout the season, the real discovery lies in what these players have accomplished before coming to Vancouver.
We hope there are more accomplishments to come for them in Blue and White.