Coach takes team to second championship berth in two years, but his long-term future remains uncertain
By Ian Walker
It can't be ignored any longer. Although on the cusp of leading the Vancouver Whitecaps to their second straight league title in only his second year as head coach, Teitur Thordarson remains without a contract for next season.
Well, that's the official word, anyway. Unofficially, the 58-year-old Icelandic tactician will definitely be back for at least another year. You can expect his contract extension to be announced shortly after the United Soccer Leagues First Division championship, which opens between the Whitecaps and Montreal Impact on Saturday at Swangard Stadium. The second-leg match is slated for Oct. 17 at Saputo Stadium.
But back to Thordarson. Think about it for a second. Two berths in the league championship in two years -- with almost completely different rosters. If this was a coach of a NHL team we were talking about, the dude would have himself a job for life, a personal driver as well and the key to every bar in the city.
But it's the Whitecaps of the United Soccer Leagues First Division, soon to be Major League Soccer. And therein lies the issue behind the Whitecaps reticence to locking up Thordarson beyond next year.
It makes perfect sense, too. It cost Greg Kerfoot and Co. more than $35 million to bring MLS to Vancouver. For that kind of money, you might as well exhaust every option before naming the team's first head coach. Nothing personal, double T.
"Teitur has more than demonstrated he's a capable coach," said WhItecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "It's just that we're in unchartered territory and we want to buy us some time. It's unfortunate for him, but please know, based on his results it would be a totally different scenario if this was not the case."
Thordarson gets it. And his loyalty should play into his favour once it's time for the club to make its long-term MLS decision.
"I understand that all things with MLS are not in place yet, but absolutely I would love to be part of the team's future," said Thordarson. "I like the club and the people I am working with and I'm very happy with what we've been doing. The support I get from the club and the spectators is great ... I like the city, so I would definitely like to continue being here."
The Whitecaps should be so lucky. Other coaches with his credentials may not have been such a team player. This is a guy with top-level European coaching certification. A former head coach of Norway's top flight Tippeligaen and Estonia's national team, where his efforts in developing football in the country earned him a medal from that country's president .
"He understands the situation," said Lenarduzzi. "Other guys would be ranting and raving, but he hasn't. He's a quality guy -- not only a very good coach, but a man of integrity."
Sounds like the perfect guy for the job(s).
Saturday vs. Montreal Impact
6:30 p.m. at Swangard Stadium
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