BY IAN WALKER
Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson will be back for another season.
Marcus Haber may not.
It was just one of those days for the province's professional soccer franchise.
It’s been well-known for months that Thordarson wasn’t going anywhere — at least for next season. The two sides all but conceded months ago that a deal was in place, and not much has changed since that Vancouver Sun story ran. It’s a one-year extension with no guarantee that even a third straight championship berth would ensure Thordarson’s employment in 2011 — a date Whitecap fans associate with Vancouver’s entry to Major League Soccer.
It begs for the label of ‘lame-duck’ coach. Or it would if the native of Akranes, Iceland, had any clue what the term meant.
“Oh yes, I see what you mean now, and while that is true, it doesn’t affect my mindset moving forward too much at all,” said Thordarson shortly after he’d put his club through its paces at the Whitecaps training facility at SFU.
“Yes, with MLS there are still questions, but really, it doesn’t affect me. My job is to get the players ready and the team as far as possible this season. Really, that’s my only focus. Beyond that, we’ll just have to see.”
Whitecaps management has given every indication it plans to exhaust every option before hiring a coach for the team’s foray into MLS. And with new CEO Paul Barber now in the mix, you’d have to think the possibilities are endless. Barber is currently top executive for Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premiership. He takes over his new role in March.
“It’s a unique situation we find ourselves in, but we’re happy to have Teitur back for another season,” said Whitecaps soccer operations manager Greg Anderson. “And he knows he’ll be a candidate near the top of our list once we have our MLS coaching criteria in place.”
Like Thordarson, Haber’s situation should also come as no surprise — at least not to anyone who had the chance to watch the 20-year-old Vancouverite in action last season. Haber recently returned from a training stint with England Championship side West Bromwich, which is reportedly interested in signing the striker.
“It went quite well, but it’s out of my hands,” said Haber, who was named the USL-1’s rookie of the year last season. “My job is to let things develop between the two clubs. There’s really not much more I can say.”
While Haber is still under contract with the Whitecaps, Anderson said the team wouldn’t stand in his way should he want to pursue a career oversees.
In that case, West Brom would be required to pay Vancouver a transfer fee to secure Haber’s rights. Anderson had not received a call from West Brom as of late Monday.
One player who will be back is the team’s most valuable.
The Whitecaps are expected to announce today that they’ve locked up goalkeeper Jay Nolly for at least the next year.
Nolly played every minute of every game for Vancouver last season and was a calming force in what turned out to be quite an eventful year for the 2008 USL-1 champs.
“There’s no doubt Jay Nolly is someone we are counting having back,” said Thordarson.
“He’s a huge player for us and definitely good enough to be in MLS.”
Funny, the same could probably be said of Thordarson.
• In related news, the Rochester Rhinos became the 10th team to officially join the new North American Soccer League. The NASL, which counts the Whitecaps as a member, is still awaiting approval from the United States Soccer Federation, but a decision is expected sometime in the next two weeks, said a USSF spokesman.
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