Teitur Tots It: Whitecaps Name First MLS CoachSeptember 3, 2010 at 4:55 am | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps In MLS, Whitecaps Season 2010 | 1 Comment
Today the Whitecaps announced what we all really knew would happen: Teitur Thordarson will coach the Vancouver Whitecaps in their inaugural Major League Soccer season in 2011. I am absolutely delighted, and the appointment is well deserved.
Teitur was a complete outsider to the club when he was hired. The club took a big risk on him when they hired him on the basis of the interviews they conducted with him. Thordarson’s coaching can only be described as a success thus far. In 2008 he took over a team that under performed under Bob Lilley in 2007. In 2007 the Whitecaps struggled to make the playoffs and then went out in the first round to arch-rivals the Portland Timbers. The team played a dour defensive style under Lilley. The Whitecaps supporters made it clear they had had enough of “Lilleyball” and wanted to see some entertaining football at Swangard.
Thordarson immediately took the Vancouver Whitecaps to the 2008 United Soccer Leagues Division 1 Championship, beating the Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1 in a thrilling final at home. Thordarson played an attacking style which relied for its success in using the core players Clarke, Kindel, Valente, Nash and Sebrango.
In the offseason the club offloaded all but Nash. The team needed to be rebuilt. The Whitecaps were painful to watch for much of 2009, with a revolving door in the centre of the back line. Thordarson had to deal with players fighting each other on the pitch (literally) during a home game. Even with these difficulties, Thordarson again took the team to the 2009 final. On the way he beat the favoured Portland Timbers in a stunning series (which I completely missed while in Italy…). The win in the second leg verses Portland was a coaching masterpiece, and one of the most heroic games in Vancouver Whitecaps history (if anyone knows where I can get a copy of the match tape, please let me know). Poor refereeing in the two leg final agains the Montreal Impact deprived all involved of a true sporting contest, and turned the USL final of 2009 into a pathetic travesty. We lost.
Teitur has done well again in 2010. It has been a transitional year and players have come and gone though the squad at a dizzying pace. While Thordarson was brought in to play attacking football, this year has been a rather barren affair in terms of goals due to a lack of quality up front.
In any event, the Whitecaps sit atop the NASL conference, though they sit fourth overall in terms of points in the USSF division 2. I expect we will go deep into the playoffs this year, and may well appear again in the final. Wouldn’t it be nice to leave the league in style as champions? Why not go for it, Teitur?
No doubt next year will be an enormous challenge for Thordarson. Typically expansion franchises in the North American sports market struggle in their first year. They are often terrible. Coaches can be the first ones blamed, and Thordarson must know that he is already sitting on a bit of a bubble before the season has even started.
My own prediction is the Whitecaps will be competitive right out of the box in MLS because we already have an excellent footballing infrastructure in place.
Could we make the playoffs in the first year? I am sure Teitur has been told this is the goal. Anything short of this may result in his dismissal, especially with Tom Soehn, a man who has considerable MLS coaching experience, possibly waiting in the wings to take over.
Teitur is a good man and a great coach. He has brought a lot of good football to Vancouver already. I wish him the best of luck now and in 2011.