A little over four months remain before Vancouver Whitecaps FC embark on their maiden journey into Major League Soccer, and with the 2011 season fast approaching, the club is focused on building a competitive squad.
Wanting success is a simple desire, but a complex goal to achieve. The 18 clubs that will make up MLS in 2011 are all looking for that competitive edge that can turn them into a champion.
Though they have yet to play a minute of MLS action at this stage, Whitecaps FC have been diligent in their preparations, with a lot of emphasis put on the establishment of a competitive roster. That process has resulted in the Blue and White forming a broad base of players from their 2010 USSF D-2 Pro League squad, and ongoing planning for next week's MLS Expansion Draft and January's MLS SuperDraft. Extensive scouting efforts have also continued, with the next FIFA transfer window opening in January.
The roster building process also included the establishment of an experienced decision-making structure at the club. "The first thing we did was hire someone with MLS experience in Tom Soehn as director of soccer operations," said Bob Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC president. "Bringing Tommy into the fold here provided us with an MLS resource that we could refer to, instead of having the sharp curve of having to learn about the league for ourselves. Having Tommy on board as early as January has helped eliminate a lot of the questions we might have had during our process to become an MLS team."
While a short-term building process has taken place, Whitecaps FC have also established a player development policy that aims to keep the club consistently competitive, with the full-time Residency program at the forefront of those efforts. By next season, MLS clubs will have the incentive to sign an unlimited number of 'homegrown' players, and the 'Caps are well positioned to build their MLS roster with Residency graduates.
Though performances on the pitch will ultimately be the judge of Whitecaps FC and their MLS planning, the club's preparations have many fans excited for what they will see come next March.