A familiar face and a promising former Major League Soccer man will take charge of the goalkeeping duties for the Vancouver Whitecaps men's team this season.
In the first of our four-part preview series to the 2008 Whitecaps men's squad, whitecapsfc.com takes a closer look at the two men that will be the club's last line of defence this term.
In an off-season that has seen many changes to the men's team, new Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson will be hoping that the returning Srdjan Djekanovic and new signing Jay Nolly can earn many clean sheets in 2008. In anything, the Whitecaps will hope for some stability in the position after using four different keepers in 2007. Former number one Tony Caig's abrupt decision to leave the club last June left the team scrambling to find a suitable replacement. Richard Goddard, Lutz Pfannenstiel, and Matt Nelson all made appearances by the season's end, but all three would not see their time with the club extended.
Nolly will be a new face to Whitecaps fans after joining the club on a one-year contract – plus an option – this past January. By the end of February, Djekanovic re-signed for his second spell with Vancouver after making several appearances for Canadian rivals Toronto FC in their inaugural MLS campaign last year. Assistant coach Todd Wawrousek believes the pair provide the team with much-needed confidence in a key position. "We are fortunate to have two very good quality goalkeepers that have not seen their best yet," he told whitecapsfc.com. "Both come to our club with experience, and yet, both of them come here without playing a large volume of games in the past few seasons. Serge is a very good shot-stopper and is improving his defending of crosses. Jay, meanwhile, is very good at directing his defences. He's also very good at reading the game and quite good at dealing with crosses into the box."
Another new face in the squad is the club's new goalkeeping coach Mike Salmon. A former professional shot-stopper with English clubs Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, and Charlton Atlhetic, Salmon has provided the value of his experience to Djekanovic and Nolly since immigrating with his family from the United Kingdom last October. "Mike is just exceptional in the experience and unique approach that he has brought to things," Wawrousek said. "It's obviously reflected in the qualities of both of our keepers, as they have done some exceptional work with him so far."
The growth of the club's Residency program has also provided Thordarson and Wawrousek with the chance to include youngster Simon Thomas in their first-team training squad. The pair have been impressed by the Victoria, BC, native's progress since he joined Thomas Niendorf's squad last September. "Being in that environment and working with two very experienced keepers will benefit Simon greatly," Wawrousek said.
In the next edition of our 2008 men's team preview, we look at the players that will patrol the club's defensive backline.