Family, culture reasons for Robson's Vancouver departure

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Although it came suddenly, Scottish midfielder Barry Robson's departure from the Vancouver Whitecaps, announced by the club on Monday, was long in the making, according to club President Bob Lenarduzzi.

The reasons for his leaving stem from the fact that Robson and his family struggled to adapt to life in North America.

"When you come from another country, and you come with a wife and children, it’s a long way to come,” Lenarduzzi said. “Different school systems, different way of life. From a playing perspective, you’re dealing with distances you never had to deal with, where Barry played.

"You’re dealing with heat, humidity, and so all of those things combined have resulted in the decision."

While the paperwork for Robson’s departure wasn’t finalized until Monday afternoon, Lenarduzzi revealed the player had hinted at a move as early as November's end-of-season exit meetings.

"During the exit meetings it did come up,” Lenarduzzi said. “The transfer window at that time was closed, so there was no urgency on either party, and as we got closer to the transfer window opening, and Barry wanting to resume his career, it became more of a talking point at that time."

 

In his time with the ‘Caps, Robson scored three goals in 18 matches but never quite seemed to reach the levels expected. The former Middlesbrough and Celtic star took criticism from some of the fans and segments of the media for his confrontational interactions with teammates during games. It didn’t help his case that after his arrival, the team, which had been competing in the top three spots in the Western Conference, nosedived – culminating in an end-of-season run-in during which the Whitecaps won just one of their last 10 matches and backed into the postseason.

Still, Robson did show flashes of why the club signed him to a Designated Player contract in the first place, notably in a 2-2 game against the LA Galaxy at BC Place, in which he scored a cracking headed goal (above) and seemed like a man possessed as he squared up with David Beckham.

Unfortunately, that exceptional performance stuck out as the exception rather than a regular occurrence.

“Absolutely,” Lenarduzzi replied when asked if there was disappointment from Robson’s perspective. “And we’re disappointed as well, but beyond that, I think it’s time to move on, and for him to pursue what he and his family would like to achieve, and for us as a club to move on as well.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.