VANCOUVER, BC – That’s a wrap.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC held their year-end media availability on Wednesday morning following the announcement of multi-year contract extensions for head coach Carl Robinson and assistants Martyn Pert and Gordon Forrest.
Here are some news and notes from the day.
MAKING A STATEMENT
Wednesday’s announcement made it abundantly clear that the club has full faith in Robinson and his assistants, despite this year’s disappointment.
Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi referenced their body of work over the last three seasons, which included a pair of appearances in the MLS Cup Playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League – not to mention a first-ever berth in the Champions League quarterfinals.
"I always believe that you learn more when things don’t go well," Lenarduzzi told reporters. "We had two good seasons. Obviously this one not so good. When you go through adversity, you can look to blame others or you can look internally – like we all need to do – and figure out what we need to do better. I think Carl will be a better coach for having gone through what he’s gone through and I think we’ll be a better organization.”
‘YOU’VE GOT TO BE PROUD TO WEAR THAT JERSEY’
Robinson and Pert are off to South America on Thursday to kick off an extensive offseason scouting trip – something he discussed at length with media. The ‘Caps coach spoke about the importance of not only finding the right players in terms of their ability, but also players with a real “hunger” and “desire” to play for this club and city.
“It’s a great city,” Robinson said. “We’ve got great supporters, through good times as well as bad times. You’ve got to be proud to wear that jersey, because it is a special jersey.”
That’s a notion Robinson referenced a few times on Wednesday. It came up again when he was asked to single out the one quality he values most when recruiting players.
“Having the hunger to play,” he answered. “If you go and attract older players, they’ve usually been there, done it, played for top clubs. That’s why I like the plan we have in place with these young players. They’re brought up in Canada. They want to play for this club.”
Robinson, of course, was alluding to the club’s Residency program, which most recently recruited and graduated Alphonso Davies to the MLS roster. Developing young players who come through the Residency program, as well as the MLS SuperDraft, will continue to be a priority.
“Our job is to identify more players to give ourselves the best chance,” said Robinson, who referenced the success of Supporters’ Shield winners FC Dallas in developing Homegrown players. “It’s very important, and the draft is very important as well.”
Whitecaps FC will pick seventh overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, which will be held on January 13 in Los Angeles.
Pedro Morales made it clear on Wednesday that he – and his family – are happy in Vancouver. He had nothing about good things to say about the club’s staff and supporters.
His future with the club, however, remains uncertain.
“I don’t know what happens,” Morales told reporters. “I’m really happy to play here. But I don’t know what happens now for the future.”
Robinson was singing a similar tune.
“We just had a very, very positive conversation there,” he said. “So we’ll just take our time. We’ll see where both parties are and then we’ll move forward.”
LOOKING IN THE MIRROR
Whitecaps FC posted a 6W-5L-6D record at BC Place this season. And that, according to goalkeeper David Ousted, was one of this year’s biggest disappointments.
“The most disappointing thing is letting the fans down,” he said.
Ousted went on to suggest that this team isn’t far off from getting back to where they were a year ago, when they finished third in Major League Soccer with a club record 53 points.
For now, though, Ousted said it’s time for self-reflection on an individual level.
“If you ask me about the leadership, I’m obviously going to point to myself and say I haven’t been good enough this year either,” he told reporters. “I haven’t been good enough getting after people and providing that leadership. This is about everybody looking in the mirror and assessing what they need to do better, and I’ll do the same.”