VANCOUVER, B.C. – It was a busy day for most of the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday, but one perfectly fit player was nowhere to be seen.
While the first team had a light recovery session at the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Stadium following Sunday's 3-1 over the Houston Dynamo, and the reserve squad played against the LA Galaxy’s second team shortly after, Long Tan was elsewhere.
Major League Soccer’s first Chinese-born player is currently serving a club suspension for taking to Twitter late last week to express his displeasure with head coach Martin Rennie and his lack of playing time. For the outburst, Tan must train alone until Friday and received a fine for his comments, which read:
“You don't give me time to playing. You don't want let me go . What do you want?? I do not understand! Keep me of win PDL [Premier Development League] Champion？”
Tan’s tweet was in reference to his scant time on the pitch this campaign. The forward has registered just 27 minutes from three substitute appearances, and has seen most of his game action this year in the PDL, with the Whitecaps' U-23 squad.
The 2012 season must surely be a letdown for the player given his strong finish to 2011, when he started three of Vancouver’s last four matches, including impressive performances leading the line in the club’s first ever back-to-back wins in October capped off by his only MLS goal to date.
This latest social media misstep has drawn some comparisons to Lee Nguyen’s preseason Twitter incident, in which the then-Whitecaps player Tweeted a homophobic slur. Nguyen was shortly thereafter placed on waivers, and while Rennie stated at the time that decision was made for footballing reasons, it’s hard to imagine Nguyen’s Twitter transgressions didn’t play into the picture.
The good thing for Tan?
“There’s a way back,” Rennie told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “We all make mistakes. If we couldn’t be forgiven and move forward, we’d all be in a bad place in life. It’s about making sure he understands it. He’s recognized he made a mistake and apologized for that, so that’s it over with.”
A Whitecaps press officer explained the club put players through media training sessions in February, and that players are expected to conduct themselves on social media as they would while interacting with conventional media.
“Just don’t be criticizing other teams or other players, or people within our club on Twitter,” Rennie said. “You just have to be careful that you’re not causing any offence. You can by all means communicate well with the public and let them get to know you better and connect with them on positive things. But things that are more sensitive – avoid those.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.