Q&A: Catching up with former ‘Caps midfielder John Thorrington

John Thorrington 2012

In 2011, John Thorrington became a member of the inaugural Vancouver Whitecaps FC MLS side after he was selected in the Expansion Draft.

He now serves as the general manager and executive vice president of soccer operations for Los Angeles Football Club. Prior to our first match against his new club, whitecapsfc.com caught up with the former ‘Caps midfielder.

What was your first reaction when you found out that you were selected by Vancouver in the 2010 MLS expansion draft?
I’d played in Chicago for six years and thought at the time that I might end my career there. But as we know in sports, things can change quickly. When my wife and I found out about the possibility to move to Vancouver, we were very excited.

I have fond memories of my time there. The club is full of a really great group of people. They have very engaged owners, and the front office staff really went out of their way to make me and my family feel at home.

What do you remember most about living in Vancouver?
I’ve said it many times before, but I think that Vancouver is the most naturally beautiful city in the world. Nowhere else do you have snow-capped mountains and the beach all at the same time. I’m a very outdoorsy person, so I enjoyed going paddling at the beach and going to the mountains as well.

My fondest memory though is that my first child was born in Vancouver, my daughter Elle Victoria.

Who were your closest teammates in Vancouver?
Joe Cannon, Jay DeMerit, Terry Dunfield, and myself were called upon to lead the group, so we were all pretty close. We still keep in regular contact. We look back on that time together fondly. Being as competitive as we are though, we hoped for more success in our time there, but we hope that we helped lay the foundation that’s been built on in Vancouver.

What did you learn from being a part of an MLS expansion club in 2011?
Expansion is inherently difficult. You don’t have any past seasons to catalogue and look back on. The way I would describe it is turbulent, and your start will depend on how you respond to that turbulence, and how steady can your hand be at the wheel. That helped inform our decisions as we were building our club at LAFC, and who we have brought to the club.

But expansion is not a short-term focus, it’s laying a foundation for the long term.

Does that 2012 playoff game against LA Galaxy still get you fired up?
That Galaxy team was very experienced, which again you don’t have in expansion. It was a tall order, but I thought we had enough of the game to win, and I thought we equipped ourselves well. We had a couple opportunities that we didn’t finish. When Jay [DeMerit] got injured, that was an important player we were then missing, and again that speaks to the lack of depth in early expansion seasons, which is hard in those big games.

Most of all though, I would have loved to have played a home playoff game in Vancouver. That would have been something special.

Did knowing Jordan Harvey from playing in Vancouver help bring him to LAFC? 
For any GM, the more you can know about a player on and off the field, the more informed your decision can be. I don’t need to tell fans in Vancouver what you get from Jordan Harvey. But it’s those types of players – that work ethic and steady hand in those turbulent times – which we wanted to bring into the group.

Have you kept in touch with people at Whitecaps FC as you’ve been building LAFC?
I have been pleasantly surprised at the collegial dynamic amongst clubs. While we compete on the field, there is a shared interest to grow the league together. 

What are your thoughts on this Vancouver Whitecaps FC team?
I never played for Robbo as a head coach, but he joined the club as an assistant coach in my second season there in 2012. [Whitecaps FC] have a clear identity, which is an achievement in and of itself in MLS. We have a healthy respect for the Whitecaps, and we’ll both want to come out on the positive side Friday night.