Soehn: No regrets over spell with Vancouver

Director of soccer operations Tom Soehn left the Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday by mutual consent. He told he leaves the club with no regrets.
After parting ways with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday, former director of soccer operations Tom Soehn is of the mindset that his tenure with the club will be seen as a success, given time.

“I truly enjoyed my time in Vancouver, coming up there, and feel like you built a blueprint for what we have,” Soehn told during a phone interview. “I’m happy we made the playoffs this year – I would have loved to have done it the first year, but overall at every club at some point you find it’s time to move on.

“I think for both parties it was a mutual separation and now it’s about moving on to what the next challenge is.”

As someone who had been around Major League Soccer for a while and knew the ins and outs of its complex roster rulebook, Soehn was the man tasked with bringing the team up to MLS from second-tier NASL as director of soccer operations.

He assembled the roster for the club’s inaugural season, and eventually stepped down to field level to replace struggling coach Teitur Thordarson in the role of interim head coach.

That was an unpopular move at the time, particularly among the club’s most prominent supporters group, the Southsiders, and the team’s record under Soehn was 5-12-5.

His inability to turn the team around immediately meant the club decided to change direction completely – announcing during the 2011 season that then Carolina RailHawks boss Martin Rennie would take over.

From there, Soehn’s influence would wane, as he first gave up the coaching reigns to Rennie, before stepping away as director of soccer operations this week, after largely being a spare part in a technical team in which Rennie had the final say. 

“Martin had a much bigger hand in on things,” Soehn said of life after Rennie’s appointment. “It’s his decisions to make. It’s his team. But we always collaborated.”

Soehn’s time will likely be looked on as mixed – he helped bring in Gershon Koffie, the promising young Ghanaian midfielder, but also oversaw the signing of Mustapha Jarju, a Gambian designated player who went scoreless during his stint and never looked like an MLS player, let alone a DP.

“When you’re looking for players, you wish every one turned out to be Gershon Koffie, that starts young and has a big upside,” Soehn said. “Unfortunately it’s not a perfect science, so it’s not always going to work out.”

When asked if he would have done anything differently, Soehn said he wasn’t one to look at the past.

“I still feel like we built a good core of guys to help build us into a playoff team,” Soehn said. “I don’t think there’s any regrets.”