Analysis: Thordarson a victim of "cutthroat environment"

Teitur Thordarson

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — Through all the frustration that Vancouver Whitecaps FC have endured this season — the injuries, international absences and red cards, the abandoned NCC final match and the constant inability to win while outplaying opponents — Teitur Thordarson always ended his reflections by saying the same thing.

“That’s how it is.”

After the Whitecaps announced on Monday that they have relieved Thordarson and goalkeeper coach Mike Salmon of their duties, that refrain was again prevalent.

“You take it as what this profession is, and that’s that these types of things can happen,” said team captain Jay DeMerit.

But though the team has struggled mightily in MLS play, with only 12 league games under Thordarson's belt the rationale behind the decision has to be questioned.

Though many other teams around the league have had to deal with injuries and have still managed to get results, for a new group in their first year together, injuries and absences were the one thing they could not afford.

Things may have turned out different for Thordarson had his team been as lucky as their expansion counterparts in Portland, who’ve rarely had to make so much as a single change to their lineup, fielding the same starting 11 for multiple games in a row. The Whitecaps, on the other hand, only recently managed to start consecutive lineups after being forced to play a different combination in each of the first 15 games in all competitions.

In fact, Thordarson only had four matches this year in which he had the luxury of a full-strength lineup: three games against Toronto and his last match, against New York. In those games, Vancouver won 4-2, tied 1-1, were leading 1-0 on the road after 60 minutes (before the match was abandoned), and earned a respectable 1-1 draw against one of the top teams in the league.

“He’s done a great job,” said Red Bulls coach and friend Hans Backe after Saturday’s game. “When I look at videos of Vancouver’s games, they’ve been unlucky in losing games by one goal and having lots of chances but not scoring. They’re definitely up to the level of most teams.”

But in the end, it all comes down to results. Though the sample was small, management and ownership decided that despite all the excuses, the end product wasn’t good enough.

“I know I can speak on behalf of all the players in that we had the utmost respect for Teitur as a man and as a coach,” said veteran John Thorrington. “These are never easy days, but we coach and play and work in a cutthroat environment.”

If anyone understands that, it's Thordarson.

"This game isn't fair, this game is never fair," Thordarson told The Vancouver Sun on Monday. "That is just how it is.”