NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps are in a rut with four losses in a row, but the good news is there’s a way out.
There always is, and nobody knows that better than John Thorrington, who was part of a Chicago Fire team in 2007 that went on an eight-match dry spell with just one win early in the season.
That poor run of form cost then Fire manager Dave Sarachan his job, but despite the turmoil, Chicago were able to regroup and made the playoffs under his replacement, Juan Carlos Osorio.
“Coach lost his job, things didn’t go well and we ended up qualifying for the playoffs on the last day of the season,” Thorrington recalled after a training session on Thursday at Inter River Park. “Made it through the Eastern Conference final, and by the end of it, people were talking about us being favorites to win it all.
“I certainly know that in this job you can get a very narrow perspective both when things are going well and when things are going poorly.”
Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie has also experienced adversity in his young coaching career, and is hoping to draw on a challenging run he had with the Carolina RailHawks to help navigate the Whitecaps to a first-ever MLS Cup playoff appearance.
“In the second year in Carolina, we went through a similar spell and we adjusted how we played and we made improvements and went all the way to the championship final and won the conference that season,” Rennie said. “It’s not uncommon to have a bad spell in a season. In fact, I don’t really remember many seasons where there hasn’t been at least one spell which wasn’t as good as we would have liked.
“What’s always happened with those cases in the past is that we’ve improved, we’ve got better. The most important thing in MLS is to get better at the end.”
The ‘Caps have had a light week with just two first team training sessions, and have this weekend off before the vital away matchup with FC Dallas on Sept. 15.
Perhaps in a bid to mix things up, those sessions have been held at Inter River Park, on a scenic grass pitch overlooked by the North Shore Mountains.
“Everyone looks refreshed and ready,” Rennie said of training at the alternative location. “It’s nice to train on the grass here in these surroundings. I think everyone had a big lift from that and everyone looked bubbly and excited and ready to go.
“That’s a good sign – no one’s down, no one’s disappointed, no one’s getting themselves too caught up in it. We know that we must improve, and that’s all we’re focused on now.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.