When the Vancouver Whitecaps rolled the dice and replaced Teitur Thordarson with new manager Tom Soehn the plan was that a faltering season would be instantly revived. That gamble has failed.
Two defeats in four days to Toronto FC has effectively ended the season as a meaningful entity, and the question now is where they go from here. Soehn has not been able to turn he team around quickly and CEO Paul Barber now has to decide if he trusts his chosen man for the long haul or whether another managerial change is the best way forward.
The games in Toronto did little to help Soehn’s cause. In the first match he sent out a weakened team with the deliberate intent of resting key players for the Nutrilite Championship game on Saturday, but then seemed to renege on that strategy at half time by sending on both Hassli and Camilo. Even then the play remained disjointed and the side posed little threat in front of goal.
The second game was worse.
With the strongest eleven at his disposal it still resembled a greatest hits compendium of all that has gone wrong with the Whitecaps this year; the inability to hold on to a lead, the failure to press home the advantage when it is there, individual errors that sap the confidence of the team as a whole and, most worryingly of all, a lack of clear thinking or leadership when things do go awry.
The MLS transfer window is looming and the Whitecaps know that they need to convince an increasingly disenchanted fan base that they are still worthy of their support. So do they look for a big name signing that will provide a short term boost, or do they take the long view and try to shore up the weaknesses in the squad in order to be better placed next year? The latter would be the prudent strategy, but sport is rarely governed by prudence or logic.
The other question is who do they put in charge of these new recruits.
Keeping Soehn would mean hitching their wagon to the man who has built and is now in charge of a team that has spectacularly failed to live up to expectations, but replacing him would be an admission that the controversial decision to fire Thordarson was wrong. The likelihood is that Soehn will stay for the rest of this campaign but will need to dramatically improve everything about the team if he is still to be at the helm next year.
Whatever happens the club will have a tough task convincing fans that there is a clear and consistent vision for the future still in place, and the sad conclusion is that the Whitecaps may well have wasted the good will they held in store from their inaugural season simply by trying to achieve too much too soon.Tags: Vancouver Whitecaps, World soccer