BY MARC WEBER
The staff has lacked continuity. The players have lacked connectedness.
On Monday, the Vancouver Whitecaps made a move they say will restore some pride to a women's program that not too long ago featured Christine Sinclair, Kara Lang and a host of senior national team icons trouncing all-comers in front of 4,000-plus fans at Swangard Stadium.
Hubert Busby Jr. -- a 40-year-old former goalkeeper from Kingston, Ont. -- was named the sixth head coach in women's program history. He's also the third in three years for a club that's lost momentum since that magical 2006 season.
Two playoff misses in three years, transient rosters -- more than 40 players dressed in 2008 -- and a general lack of direction have hurt the image. Last season, following a drawn-out hiring process, Simon Fraser University men's coach Alan Koch had less than a month to organize the team.
"We've had a lot of stuff going on with the club in the last year, obviously the focus on [Major League Soccer]," said Whitecaps director of youth development Dan Lenarduzzi. "We weren't looking as much as we should have long term on the women's side.
"We felt it was important not to be so year-to-year. We wanted to have somebody on board who could be with the club year round and help us build the program, connect it more with the youth programs and the national teams.
"Hubert was a natural choice with his experience last year as an assistant with the L.A. Sol [of Women's Professional Soccer]."
When exactly Busby became the natural choice is unclear, as sources say Koch was set to return as recently as a month ago despite his 3-4-5 record from 2009. The players, according to multiple sources, played a role in forcing a change, though Lenarduzzi denied that.
Busby will also oversee the Whitecaps U18 girls prospects team. Jesse Symons, a 28-year-old Whitecaps prospects coach who led Team B.C. to gold at the 2009 Canada Games, will serve as Busby's assistant on both fronts.
"It's a great opportunity for me," said Busby," who joined the Whitecaps for a brief playing stint in 2001. First and foremost, it's about developing young Canadian talent. Our goal is obviously to make the playoffs and from there see how the ball bounces."
Since retiring from a playing career that included a backup role for Jamaica in a World Cup qualifier, Busby has served in a handful of coaching and administrative roles from Ottawa to Toronto to Vancouver and L.A.
His one major professional head coaching job -- bench boss of the USL-1 Toronto Lynx in 2005 -- was an inglorious year.
Credentials aside, Busby certainly has one thing Koch didn't: Time.
The 2010 campaign doesn't start until May. On Monday, the website roster was wiped clean.
"I'm looking for those types who are serious, who are dedicated to this program," Busby said.
"Everyone's coming in with a clean slate."
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