There’s a Welshman running the Whitecaps.
Carl Robinson has been named the new head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps, taking over for the fired Martin Rennie. Having retired from his playing career in 2011, Robinson had been an assistant coach for Vancouver since 2012.
“This is a very proud moment for me to sit here today,” Robinson said during a Monday afternoon press conference. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing.”
Robinson was emotional at times during the press conference. He called himself “soft” as he mentioned his late father “watching” from above.
“He’ll have the support of the front office,” said club president Bob Lenarduzzi. “He’s established great relationships with them as well. This has been evidenced by the amount of feedback we’ve received.”
It was a five-week interview process, and Lenarduzzi admitted that the team spent a weekend with Bob Bradley before the former USMNT head coach turned down the opportunity to guide the club. Bradley’s openness to the opportunity caught the interview process off-guard, happening after they had spoken with their remaining pool of candidates.
“When we started the coach search, we interviewed a select group,” Lenarduzzi said. “We were happy with the quality of that group. Bob Bradley became available as a result of Egypt not qualifying for the World Cup. We contacted his agent to see if there was interest in Vancouver or MLS, expecting the answer to be, ‘No.'”
Robinson spent most of his playing career in England and the United States, where he manned the midfield for Sunderland, Norwich City, Toronto FC and Wolverhampton before finishing his career with a 12-game stint for the New York Red Bulls. He was capped 52 times for Wales.
He said he wants to play an attacking style with “good footballers” and while his job is one of evaluation, his objective is the playoffs. Robinson called them a “must” for their club on an annual basis, as well as the Canadian Cup.
Robinson said the status of captain Jay Demerit is one of his top priorities.
Vancouver was the only team to miss the MLS playoffs despite having a positive goal differential (+8). They were one of only six teams to score more than 50 goals, but also were in the bottom half in goals allowed.