Whitecaps Notebook: Cannon, Thorrington gambles pay off

Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Vancouver Whitecaps on Monday elected to re-sign two players who know their way around Major League Soccer in goalkeeper Joe Cannon and midfielder John Thorrington.

“We’re happy they didn’t get taken in the Expansion Draft,” Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “Those were two guys we left in there which was a bit of a gamble, but thankfully that paid off for us. They were both unfortunate at the start of the season in that they had injuries and weren’t able to show their true worth to the Whitecaps, but in the second half of the season those two guys did well and, in the last 10 games, John Thorrington did well coming back to fitness.”

Cannon wrestled the starting spot in goal away from Jay Nolly after current director of soccer operations Tom Soehn took temporary charge of the squad, starting all but three league matches after the coaching change.

“Joe is an experienced goalkeeper,” Rennie explained. “He knows the league well, he’s a domestic player, he’s shown a real desire to be here, has a real connection with the fans, and his second half of the season merited a new contract. We’re really glad he’s here.”

Thorrington missed the vast majority of the season with a series of injuries, playing in only 11 matches all year, most of which came in the final third of the season. Still, the 32-year-old brought poise to the troubled Whitecaps midfield in those appearances, and the club is confident that physiotherapist Rick Celebrini can keep him fit.

“Being healthy – that’s the only thing holding him back from one of the better players in MLS,” Rennie said. “I think everyone knows when John Thorrington is at his best he’s an excellent MLS player. Now we believe that he’s getting back to his absolute best and he believes the same thing. If he can stay healthy next season we think he’s a very significant player for us.”

More change coming

It’s been a busy week, but Rennie and Whitecaps management continue to work the phones.

In an interview with online Whitecaps fanzine AFTN Canada following the annual general meeting of the Southsiders supporters group on Monday night, the coach reportedly stated, “Between now and the start of the season, there will probably be about eight or nine players that I think will make a significant difference to the squad we’ve got. The final number I’m not sure, but I believe there will be a significant improvement.”

That number raised a few eyebrows, but on Tuesday, Rennie clarified those comments.

“I think what I was maybe saying was there might be eight or nine different guys from when the season started last season – I think that would be accurate,” he said.

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.