The head coaching job at the Vancouver Whitecaps remains vacant, but with MLS roster deadlines, the club kept 11 players and left eight others in limbo.VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Whitecaps may not have a head coach on the books, but the show must go on.
With Major League Soccer rules dictating clubs must exercise options on players before December 1, the 'Caps did just that on Thursday, keeping 11 players around and opting not to give the thumbs up to retaining eight others – at least for now.
Defenders Jordan Harvey and Carlyle Mitchell, midfielders Aminu Abdallah, Bryce Alderson, Gershon Koffie, Erik Hurtado, Nigel Reo-Coker, Russell Teibert and Matt Watson, as well as strikers Omar Salgado and Camilo Sanvezzo will be sticking around.
As for goalkeepers Joe Cannon, Brad Knighton and Simon Thomas, defender Brad Rusin, midfielders Jun Marques Davidson and Daigo Kobayashi, and strikers Tommy Heinemann and Corey Hertzog, well, they're either gone or at least unlikely to return – but a new head coach could keep them around.
As for who made these calls in the absence of a head coach? Well, club president Bob Lenarduzzi stated he made the decisions along with director of professional teams Greg Anderson and the club's assistant coaches Carl Robinson and Paul Ritchie.
Interestingly enough, Lenarduzzi also stated roster evaluations provided by coach candidates during interviews in recent weeks also played a part in these latest squad moves.
“Not that we would go with that information,” Lenarduzzi said of the opinions provided by potential coaches. “But it also provided a useful perspective. Between all those sources, we were able to confirm the players that we've retained and the ones that we've moved on.”
In terms of the retained players, Reo-Coker sticks out as the most prominent player to stay on the books, but a salary raise or a long-term extension, which some in the media have bandied about as a possibility, doesn't necessarily seem forthcoming.
“Not necessarily,” Lenarduzzi answered when asked about Reo-Coker getting a longer-term deal. “We have exercised his option ... the incoming coach will look at our existing players and determine which of those players will provide us a good chance of success in the short term, and ideally, some of them over the long term.
“He had a good year for us and that was acknowledged by him being in the running for newcomer of the year to MLS. We'll look forward to him coming back in and being settled and doing a lot more of what he's good at, which is driving, surging runs from the middle of the park.”
Of those the club decided to take a pass on, Kobayashi's name will leave the sourest of tastes. This after the playmaker failed to gel and struggled to adapt to the physicality and speed of MLS after arriving with some fanfare ahead of the 2013 season.
Ultimately, the once-capped Japanese international would finish the year with two goals and four assists – not good value for his $238,833 salary.
“He was on a significant amount of money in the world of MLS,” Lenarduzzi said. “So we had hoped that he would fill that attacking midfield role. To his credit, he did it, but didn't do it on a consistent basis, and we felt that we could wait and hope that he does that next season, but at the same time, our thoughts are that we'll move on at this point and look to the incoming coach to guide us accordingly in that direction.”
Still, those players whose options were not renewed could still stick with the club. Goalkeeper Knighton, whose option wasn't exercised on Thursday, is an affordable, solid backup – if he's willing to play that role.
Lenarduzzi mentioned him specifically by name when asked about some on that list who could stick around despite Thursday's decisions.
“Prior to the waiver draft and prior to the re-entry draft, there is still an opportunity for the incoming coach, if we can announce him fairly quickly, to actually sit down with the players that we've made decisions on,” Lenarduzzi said. “And, discuss with them, if in fact he's that interested, the opportunity of re-signing.”