Vancouver Whitecaps FC took an important step in shaping the identity of their Major League Soccer (MLS) team today, as the club announced Teitur Thordarson as the team’s inaugural head coach when it begins play as the 17th team in MLS in March 2011. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
"Over the past two-and-a-half seasons, Teitur has done an outstanding job as a leader, a motivator, and a teacher," said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. "His extensive experiences as a coach and player in the top leagues in Europe have had a huge impact on our club, as a whole. Teitur has a proven history of success, while setting very high standards, both for himself and those around him."
A native of Akranes, Iceland, the 58-year-old Thordarson has enjoyed three successful seasons as Whitecaps FC head coach - having initially joined the club on December 11, 2007. In what was his first year of coaching in North American professional soccer, the former Iceland international striker led Whitecaps FC to the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) championship title following a second-place finish in the USL-1 standings with a record of 15W-7L-8D. The 'Caps won the USL-1 Championship Final with a 2-1 victory over Puerto Rico Islanders at Swangard Stadium on October 12, 2008. Thordarson also led the men's team to notable wins over MLS clubs Los Angeles Galaxy (international friendly) and Toronto FC (Nutrilite Canadian Championship) that season.
His second year in charge was just as eventful. After making several changes to the squad in the off-season, Thordarson's side endured a more difficult USL-1 regular season campaign, as they claimed the league's final playoff berth with a record of 11W-10L-9D. However, a fine playoff run saw the 'Caps make the finals for a second straight year before falling 6-3 on aggregate to Canadian rivals Montreal Impact. It was also under Thordarson that Whitecaps FC suffered heartbreak in the 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Championship after being edged to the title by Toronto FC on goal difference.
Thordarson's third season at the helm has been a more consistent campaign, with the 'Caps leading the NASL Conference in the United States Soccer Federation Division-2 Professional League (USSF D-2) with a record of 9W-3L-13D. Their form defensively, and away from home, have Whitecaps FC in a strong position to challenge for the USSF D-2 title come playoff time this October. In total, Thordarson has amassed a combined record of 44W-27L-37D with Vancouver.
"It is a great privilege and honour to be leading Whitecaps FC as their head coach in Major League Soccer," said Thordarson. "Since joining the club nearly three years ago, I have been part of many fantastic experiences, both on and off the pitch. I am very much looking forward to the opportunity and challenge that comes with being the club’s inaugural head coach, as we return to the top level of professional soccer in North America."
Prior to joining Whitecaps FC, Thordarson compiled an extensive coaching resume in the professional leagues of Sweden, Norway, Estonia, and his native Iceland from 1987 to 2006. The majority of his coaching career was spent in Norway’s top-flight Eliteserien, where he coached for 11 seasons with clubs like SK Brann, FC Lyn Oslo, and Lillestrøm SK. He also had a successful spell at the helm of Estonian club Flora Tallinn and the Estonian national team between 1996 and 1999. For his work in developing Estonian soccer, Thordarson received a medal from the President of Estonia in February 2000. More recently, he led Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur (Reykjavík Football Club) of the Úrvalsdeild - Iceland’s premier division - to a second-place league finish and a spot in the Icelandic Cup final in 2006.
Before entering the coaching ranks, Thordarson enjoyed a successful playing career as a striker for nearly two decades. Thordarson signed his first professional contract at the age of 17 with his hometown club Íróttabandalag Akraness (ÍA) in 1969 and would later play with Swedish teams Jönköpings Södra IF, Östers IF, and Skövde AIK, Swiss side Yverdon-Sport FC, and French clubs Racing Club de Lens and Association Sportive de Cannes.
It was in France that Thordarson played under two legends in the sport in former Liverpool and France national team manager Gerard Houllier, as a member of RC Lens, and current Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger, while at AS Cannes.
A former Iceland national team captain, Thordarson also had an impressive international career, as he scored nine goals in 41 appearances for his country between 1972 and 1985.
Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets deposits have surpassed the 14,000 mark and fans are encouraged to secure their seats for next season today. For more information on MLS season tickets, call 604.669.WAVE (9283) or visit whitecapsfc.com.About Vancouver Whitecaps FCIn 1974, Vancouver Whitecaps FC played their inaugural season in the North American Soccer League, and in 1979, the club won the NASL Soccer Bowl championship. From 1987 to 1992, as a member of the Canadian Soccer League, Vancouver won four straight CSL titles. In 2002, the Whitecaps created a full club model that encompasses professional teams for men and women, extensive youth development and grassroots participation programs, facility development, and the Whitecaps Foundation to support specific initiatives related to health and wellness through soccer. Since 2004, the Whitecaps have won two United Soccer Leagues First Division championships and two USL W-League championships. In 2011, Vancouver will begin their inaugural season in Major League Soccer at Empire Field before moving into the new BC Place Stadium in downtown Vancouver.About Major League SoccerHeadquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. MLS features many stars from the U.S., Canada, and around the world. MLS kicked off its 15th season on March 25, 2010. MLS features 16 clubs each playing 30 regular season matches in 2010. Those teams include Chicago Fire; Colorado Rapids; Chivas USA; Columbus Crew; D.C. United; FC Dallas; Houston Dynamo; Kansas City Wizards; Los Angeles Galaxy; New York Red Bulls; New England Revolution; 2009 MLS Cup Champion Real Salt Lake; San Jose Earthquakes; Seattle Sounders FC; Toronto FC; and, in their inaugural season, Philadelphia Union. Expansion teams in Vancouver and Portland will debut in 2011 and in Montreal in 2012. For more information about MLS, log on to the League’s official website at www.MLSsoccer.com.
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