Carl Robinson - Press Conference
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

News and notes: Robinson fields wide range of questions at year-end media day

VANCOUVER, BC – And that’s a wrap.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson met with the media for the final time earlier this week and discussed a wide range of topics.  

See below for a summary. 

On the re-signing of Matias Laba:

We’ve been talking for a while. It’s a great signing for the club. Obviously, Mati has been here two years and he’s been a very important part of the team. He’s improving every day, he’s a great lad to have in the locker room, and I want players like that. We’re going to try and take this club to the next level and he’s certainly a big part of that.

On whether there will be more re-signings:

You’ll probably see in the next two or three or four or five days. That will speak for itself. As I said, when players do well for you, it’s important you reward them. Obviously, we’ve rewarded one or two players and that will continue to happen. I want to build here. I don’t want to be a team that makes 10-12 changes every season because you get no continuity. Especially if you’re going young, you need to continue to build and with that will come new deals and a bit of stability. So over the next period of time, you’ll see.

On whether there will be fewer changes this offseason than in years past:

Probably, but there will be changes without a doubt. In every season that goes by, you need to try and increase competition and get better. We’ll try and do that. We’ve identified a number of targets. Sometimes, it’s not as easy as just going out and signing them because they’re at other clubs or their financial demands, but we’ll make as strong a case as we can.

On the need to improve offensively:

We know we need to improve in the goals area. Can we do that by bringing one player in? Yeah, we could possibly do that. Can we do that by coaching and developing the individuals to get better? Octavio, Kekuta, Techera, Pedro, Kendall, yeah. Can he increase his goals? If you do that by committee, that might help you as well. We’ve had the best defensive record in the league for two years. It’s not doom and gloom. I know we’re out and it hurts me to say that but the club is moving forward.

Yes, we know we need to score more goals. We know we need to get our wide players in the box a little bit more, we need to get our fullbacks higher, we need to get a midfield player or two midfield players scoring goals. We need to keep everyone healthy. They are all areas we need to improve on, but if you think there’s going to be a dramatic change, well unfortunately there’s not.

On Octavio Rivero:

He started off like a house on fire. He won MLS Player of the Month in the first month and everyone was saying he could be the best player in the league. Expectations in this city are brilliant because you go from being the best to being the worst in a short period of time. He’s certainly not the best and he’s certainly not the worst. We know he’s a work-in-progress. We know he’s got the potential, but he’s 23. So we’ve got to work with him. Will we be looking to add other pieces? Yes, 100 per cent we will. Will we be looking to supplement his strengths? Yes, without a doubt we will. Will we be looking to keep Pedro fit? Yes, without a doubt. There are a number of factors.

On potentially changing formations:

Sometimes, I think people get caught up in formations. If I find a player that is going to suit my team and make my team better and it means we adjust our formation, then I certainly will do that. I’ve got no worries whatsoever in relation to that. It’s not about formations, it’s about players. There are four teams remaining in the playoffs and they all play near enough the same system. Barring Portland who play the 4-3-3, probably out of necessity because Will Johnson got injured, they’re all 4-2-3-1s. None of them have any problems scoring goals and none of them have any problems keeping goals out … I’m always looking at good players and formations don’t really matter to me.

On Pa-Modou Kah and Mauro Rosales:

We’re looking at trying to cap-juggle as well. When you re-sign your young players, you’ve got to make sacrifices somewhere – that’s the way the league is structured – without moving pieces that are very important to you. And both of those players are very important. Can we come to agreements? Hopefully we’ll see over the next few days or few weeks.

On Pedro Morales:

I’m not worried at all [about his long-term health]. In the first year, people were saying he was the best player we’ve had in our franchise’s history. He’s had an OK season. I think he’ll be the first to admit that. And now people are talking about whether it’s right moving forward with him. When you’re on the top of the hill, it’s great. When you’re at the bottom, it’s difficult. I’ve got no worries about Pedro getting fit. It’s a big year for him next year and for us as a club.

On his offseason plans:

I’d love to say I’m going to have a six to eight week break but that’s not going to happen. I’ll be here for the next week or so … next week I might go off on a scouting trip. There are a couple of games I want to try and see. But I will be going to different parts of the world, including Wales. South America will probably be a visit of mine, Central America will be a visit of mine, Europe will be a visit of mine, and Wales. Llandrindod and Builth Wells, but there are no players there.

On his assessment of Erik Hurtado’s loan in Norway:

I’ve been in contact with Erik. Obviously, it’s disappointing for him that his team got relegated, but the experience will do him good. I think sometimes North American players need to come out of their comfort zones and once you come out of your comfort zone you actually have a sense of realism. And the realism was that Erik went there and played very well at certain times, he did OK at certain times, he found it difficult to adapt at certain times. It’s important he comes back and has a different outlook and his outlook is to try and get into this team of players.

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