Martin Rennie is now in town to begin a new era with Whitecaps FC, as he runs his first training camp starting Wednesday at Burnaby Lake. This is a chance for players to stake their claim to a roster spot for next year. The coach and players will take this time to get to know each other on and off the field, as coach Rennie will be looking to do some one-on-ones as well as evaluate and critique their performances in each practice session.
It is a key time for both coach and players, as first impressions are always important, especially when knowing that major decisions are being made on a day-to-day basis. While the process could be stressful, I feel that Martin’s communication skills with his friendly approach and desire to get to know the players individually that each member of the squad will know exactly where they stand and what is expected of them. The trick is for them to go out and get it done on the field.
WATCH: MARTIN RENNIE INTERVIEW (AUGUST 9, 2011)
Some may feel that the players are tired after finishing a tough season, but in all honesty, this is the time of the year when they would most like to be playing. They would much rather be on the field fighting for the MLS Cup than sitting on their couch, so this is a good exercise to keep them sharp and focused. It is a fresh start and a chance to put a disappointing season on the field behind them. They now have a quick turn around and a chance to see what the next MLS season is going to look like with Rennie in charge.
Many lessons were learned from their first season in Major League Soccer, and now they will welcome the chance to get back on the field and show their stuff instead of brooding and agonizing over the results they did not get this year. I have spoken to a number of the players who have played in Major League Soccer before, and they have said that this is one of the best clubs they have been a part of. Players feel this is a strong organization that is going places and they want to be a part of the journey.
At this point, it shouldn’t matter to the players how much playing time they received last season; they now have a clean slate. It is about going out each training session and showing the new coach what they can do. The reverse is also true. There are a number of players who did have a strong season, but they too must turn the page and make a good impression with coach Rennie.
As for coach Rennie himself, I’m sure he is excited to see the players up close and personal. He has a number of tough decisions to make, but he has to feel encouraged by the many strong performances he watched on TV or DVD where the ‘Caps held their own against some of the best MLS teams in 2011. He now gets a chance to see how these players respond to the challenges he puts before them in his first camp. Being on the field will let him see firsthand the attitude and character each player possesses as he notes their work rate and gages how hungry each player is to represent the ‘Caps and be a part of a winning squad.
So yes, there will be some pressure, but you can bet that coach Rennie and his players will be grateful that this moment has arrived, and now they can begin the process of putting together a squad that will look to make big strides during the 2012 MLS season.
Whitecaps FC 2012 Major League Soccer season tickets start at $329, plus applicable tax and a $10 processing fee per order. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, including loge seats and suites, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com/protect.