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Martin MacMahon: Pressure on as Whitecaps miss out on Yallop

Martin MacMahon: Pressure on as Whitecaps miss out on Yallop

Mike Stobe

The pressure is on for the Vancouver Whitecaps, as it appears they have missed out on hiring one of their top head coaching targets, former Canada boss Frank Yallop.

Things are rarely as simple as they appear.

The word that Frank Yallop is set to take over as head coach of the Chicago Fire (initially reported by Goal's Ives Galarcep on Wednesday), and not the Vancouver Whitecaps as many had anticipated, changes things in a big way for the Canadian club as it looks to replace head coach Martin Rennie.

It was a nice cut and paste story.

Rennie, his contract not renewed – replaced by Vancouver-raised Yallop, a former coach of the Canadian national team, and a man who had spent some time with Whitecaps co-owner Jeff Mallett in the Bay Area, where they both live.

Yallop already had his office picked out on Water Street in downtown Vancouver last month, the whispers said.

But it seems those rumors were just that – rumors. Although Goal has learned that Yallop was contacted by the Whitecaps prior to the announcement that Rennie's contract would not be renewed – in contrast to club president Bob Lenarduzzi's public statements on the day, when he denied any candidate had been approached.

It seems whatever those initial discussions between Yallop and the club were, they were not quite as far along as many had been led to believe.

So what's the story now for the 'Caps, with their unofficial leading candidate out of the equation? Perhaps Yallop was never the favorite at all and the club had merely been feeling out his interest.

The next easy connection for lazy journalists and bloggers to make will be that Whitecaps assistant Carl Robinson is set to step up to the head coaching role. While Robinson is highly thought of in Major League Soccer circles, he has no head coaching experience and is still relatively new as an assistant.

Given all of the talk of the importance of experience at Tuesday's press conference, when the club announced it would not be sticking with Rennie, it's difficult to imagine Robinson getting the nod.

He has experience as a player at the highest levels, but has yet to manage a team and that ultimately will probably mean the club will take a pass, despite his popularity among many of the senior players, including Golden Boot winner Camilo, who often brings up the Welshman as a positive influence unprompted in media scrums and one on one interviews.

What this surprising development could mean is that the Whitecaps now must conduct an actual search – and that will delay all sorts of things.

The team's support coaching staff are currently in limbo, waiting to learn whether they'll have jobs under the new coach, whoever he is.

Perhaps more importantly for on-field affairs, club captain Jay DeMerit is also out of contract come the new year, and the longer that situation lingers, the less receptive he'll likely be to take a hometown discount – if that was ever even on the table to begin with.

While other teams hunt designated players and have preliminary trade discussions with each other, Vancouver will be hamstrung until the appointment of a new boss, caught in a sort of limbo.

As for Whitecaps fans relieved that Yallop and his hoof-ball brand of soccer is no longer a possibility, it's difficult to imagine whoever is hired will bring with him the established record of success of the former San Jose Earthquakes and Canada boss, who has two MLS Cups and a Supporters Shield to his name – not to mention two MLS Coach of the Year honors.

As ever, it's a case of be careful what you wish for – fans will be hoping Yallop was never Plan A for the Whitecaps, because if he was, the backup plan appears very murky indeed.

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