VANCOUVER, BC – It’s been less than a month since Carl Robinson was appointed head coach of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but the Welshman has been hard at work ever since.
There hasn’t been much downtime for the new ‘Caps manager, who has been busy finalizing his coaching staff, preparing for the upcoming MLS Player Combine and SuperDraft, and working to fill out the club’s roster.
The team currently has 19 players under contract: one goalkeeper, five defenders, seven midfielders, and six strikers. One of those strikers, Darren Mattocks, has graduated from the league’s Generation adidas program. As a result, the Jamaican’s salary will begin to count against the club’s salary budget – an important consideration as Robinson builds his roster for the upcoming season.
Whitecapsfc.com recently caught up with Robinson before he departed for the MLS Player Combine, and the head coach spoke to media on Thursday afternoon. See below for a summary of the various topics discussed.
On the appointment of Gordon Forrest as assistant coach:
It’s a fantastic appointment for the club moving forward. He’s a fantastic coach, he’s has a great rapport with the younger players, and I know him inside out having worked very closely with him over the last few months especially. He’ll be a great addition to the club.
On how this hiring fits the club’s commitment to youth development:
I think everyone knows that we have a fantastic group of young players in Vancouver. It’s important that we unlock the potential of these young players. They will be given chances over the next period of time especially in preseason. We’ll put everything in place for them to be successful and then it’s down to them.
On Forrest’s involvement in the day-to-day activities of the first team:
He’ll be involved on a day-to-day basis. He’ll be a first team coach with myself, as well as another addition who will be named shortly. He’ll have a very strong say on what we do on a day-to-day basis leading up to the match on Saturday.
On Forrest’s relationship with the veteran players on the squad:
Gordon is a fantastic coach. If you can coach and you have a good rapport, then no matter whether you’re young or old, they respect you. The senior players on the squad are familiar and respect Gordon. That won’t be a problem.
On if we can expect more Homegrown signings in the near future:
Most definitely, I think you can. I think you’ve seen the talent coming through. Fans who watch the Residency games know that there’s fantastic talent there. I’ll be trying a few of those guys out in preseason. They will be given their chances. I’m sure there will be an endless stream of them coming through once we have the first couple in.
On the decision not to renew the contract of Paul Ritchie:
I have a fantastic amount of respect for Paul Ritchie. Obviously we’ve been friends for a number of years. When I got the appointment, I just felt that we needed to go in a different direction, hence with the appointment of Gordon Forrest and the attributes that he’ll bring to the table. I just think it was the right decision.
On goalkeeper coach Marius Rovde staying on with the club:
The big Norwegian is a very hard-working guy. Everyone who knows him knows he wears his heart on his sleeve and he likes to be on the training field. I think he has a great rapport with David Ousted, who’s a key part of the team moving forward for next year. It will be important that David is in fine form next year and Marius will be a big part of that.
On what Robinson has been up to since his appointment:
It’s been very busy. Flying back to the UK and walking my mother down the aisle was the most important thing after getting the opportunity to lead the Whitecaps into the 2014 season. That was first on the agenda, spending some time with the family was next – albeit on the phone a lot of the time. And then obviously visiting a few clubs in England over the new year. It was interesting to see different styles of football, different training methods, and meeting good people there.
On building out the roster:
It’s been quiet on the signings front, but it hasn’t been quiet on the work front. There’s been a lot of behind-the-scenes background work through myself and the other coaches with regards to players. We are narrowing down our targets because we know there are positions we need to strengthen. We’ll be doing that in the coming days and weeks.
On the status of contract negotiations with Jay DeMerit:
We’re still in talks with Jay. I think they’re going very well at the moment and we are coming down to the latter part of the negotiations. I’m hoping to have some news in the next few days.
I've spoken to Camilo three or four times over the last two or three weeks. We've had some good conversations. What was said in those conversations I obviously cannot relay at this time, because we are in the process of trying to find a solution to the matter that has arose. We have been in contact. He's understood the situation. I've let him know what our stance is on the situation. The behaviour that he has shown, the unprofessionalism that he has shown is not acceptable. We're working 24 hours a day to try and find a solution to this.
On Camilo's future in Vancouver:
I want players committed to the club. Vancouver is a fantastic organization and we have a proud history at the club. Anytime someone puts that in jeapordy, you have to ask questions. Camilo's behaviour has not been acceptable. I've let him know that. He's under contract to the club, as are a lot of the other players. None of the other contracted players have acted like that and we need to try and find out why this behaviour has popped up. Camilo is a good player, a fantastic player. And I want as many good players as this club as I can, but I do not condone that type of behaviour.
On the importance of the upcoming MLS Player Combine in terms of player evaluation:
It’s very important. It’s important that you do your work. It’s not just what the players do at the combine. I think we saw that last year with one or two picks that went quite early. You need to do your homework, you need to sit down and meet the guys individually to see what the character is like. There are numerous things that go into this. It’s not just a knee-jerk reaction. We’ll be finalizing our work over the next week and make sure we put the correct decisions in place.
On what the club looks for in player interviews at the combine:
We want great people and great footballers. We talk about our motto - "Our all. Our honour." - we want people who are humble, who are polite, who have the right characteristics in them. That’s very important for me as a head coach, as well the club. If they are quality people and if they are good players then I’ll seriously look at them.
On if they have specific players they’re considering at next week’s SuperDraft:
We have certain names that have been thrown to us that I’ve identified, as well as the coaches. They will be kept secret at the moment. There are always one or two that slightly pop their heads up at the combine and with a bit more work and research on the homework that’s been done by scouting coordinator Jake DeClute, I’m sure one or two will come out of the woodwork. Then the fun begins.
Whitecaps FC 2014 season tickets start at just $349, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps are also offering a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.