Home MLS Vancouver Whitecaps Whitecaps need to evaluate more than just the coaching position

Whitecaps need to evaluate more than just the coaching position

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The Whitecaps will wait no longer, as the team announced Wednesday that it had “released” coach Carl Robinson, assistant Martyn Pert and goalkeeping coach Stewart Kerr.

“With five games left, we remain focused on our opportunity to make the playoffs,” said Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi in a release. “As we look to 2019 and beyond, we are committed to being a championship contender and a global search for a coach to lead this vision will start today.”

One has to wonder if the start to the search was accelerated with ESPN reports that the San Jose Earthquakes have asked for permission to approach LAFC assistant Marc Dos Santos about their open coaching gig. MDS, of course, is the Canadian coach who steered the Ottawa Fury to an NASL final, then Swope Park Rangers to a USL final, then won a NASL championship with a lame-duck San Francisco Deltas side — all in three consecutive years. MDS will surely be one of the hottest properties in the coaching market.

The Whitecaps, sit  in eighth place in the West, and have the fifth-worst defensive record in the league. The team’s marquee player, Alphonso Davies, leaves for Bayern Munich in the New Year.

It’s not unfair to say that the new coach will be needing to do what amounts to a full-scale rebuild. And, that might only be attractive to a marquee candidate if he knows he’s going to get the keys to the kingdom. In the past, the Whitecaps have had a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to decision-making about players and the direction of the organization, and the question has to be asked, are the Whitecaps looking for a staff member or a leader?

The more power the Whitecaps are willing to cede to the new coach/manager, the better the field of candidates will be.

Look to Toronto FC as a prime example. TFC had the power of MLSE behind it, but stagnated for nearly a decade, as coach after coach was lost in the corporate structure. When Tim Bezbatchenko was brought in as general manager, he was given license to build the team, and, well, things turned around — despite this season’s stumble.

Now, Bezbatchenko is a GM and vice-president, not a coach, but the lesson is there. Give good people a project, give them something to build, then stand out of their way.

But, if the Whitecaps are looking for a yes man, well, maybe it doesn’t matter who coaches the team, because the structure remains the same.

This is an excellent time for the Whitecaps not to only reevaluate the coaching position, but to reevaluate how decisions are made and the club is run. The Whitecaps have for, too long, been a team without identity. It’s time to allow a new coach the chance to finally put a stamp on the team, rather than shift around moving parts and there being no consistency from one game to the next.

The fans in Vancouver have been patient, but the empty seats are becoming more noticeable at BC Place.


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