VANCOUVER, BC – Leadership by committee.
That’s the approach Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie has opted for following the news that captain Jay DeMerit will miss in the range of six to eight months with a ruptured Achilles tendon. And it'll have to start Saturday, when the 'Caps host Columbus (4:30 p.m. PT; Sportsnet Pacific; Bell mobile devices; TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca)
“There’s no real announcement of a captain,” Rennie said at Friday's training session at BC Place when asked whether he would name an interim. “We’ve got two or three very good leaders within our locker room, veteran players within our locker room. A couple of different people will wear the armband and they’ll all be leaders in the locker room.
“Tomorrow, most likely Kenny [Miller] will continue with it, but it will just be a case of working it that way.”
Miller captained the side during preseason when DeMerit was receiving treatment for Achilles tendonitis, and took over the captain’s role when the centre back was forced to leave last weekend's game with the injury.
Nigel Reo-Coker, who has captained a number of his club sides, is another player who will likely skipper the side at some point – perhaps when Miller is away with Scotland on international duty later this month.
And if he’s asked, the 28-year old Englishman is more than happy to step into that role.
“I’ve been a captain from the age of 14, 15, at youth level all the way through to the professional level,” Reo-Coker said on Friday. “So, for me, nothing’s going to change. It’s still the same mentality – being a team player.
“I haven’t come here to say I’m a match winner or a [Lionel] Messi. I’ve always been a team player. I like the enthusiasm of the young players we’ve got coming through and how well I can see them to develop to become better players. All I can do is be myself."
Alain Rochat has also captained the side at various times in the past two seasons when DeMerit has been unavailable, and Andy O’Brien and Young-Pyo Lee are players with the credentials to take the responsibility if asked, although Lee dismissed the idea of taking the armband this week.
“Jay’s our captain,” Rennie said. “He’s been the captain since we started MLS and he still is.”