VANCOUVER, B.C. — With word Thursday morning that the Vancouver Whitecaps had exercised the options on 11 players and opted not to give the thumbs-up to eight others, some may have been wondering: Given the club is without a head coach since the departure of Martin Rennie, who exactly made these calls?
Well, the answer might come as a surprise. Yes, most of the calls came from the remaining coaching staff. But according to Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi, the decision-making process also included roster opinions provided by potential candidates interviewed in recent weeks about filling the vacant head-coaching position.
Director of professional teams Greg Anderson and assistant coaches Carl Robinson and Paul Ritchie also contributed to the discussion with Lenarduzzi on whom to keep on the books.
“Not that we would go with that information,” Lenarduzzi told reporters on Thursday of the opinions provided by recently interviewed coaching candidates. “But it also provided a useful perspective. Between all those sources, we were able to confirm the players that we've retained and the ones that we've moved on.”
Of those players looking likely to move on, it will be attacking midfielder Daigo Kobayashi, easily the name on the list most likely to elicit feelings of disappointment.
After arriving with big expectations during the offseason – and for a significant salary by MLS standards – it was expected the once-capped Japanese international would fill the creative void left in the middle of the park since the departure of Davide Chiumiento in 2012.
But that never really happened – at least on a regular basis.
“He was on a significant amount of money in the world of MLS,” Lenarduzzi said. “So we had hoped that he would fill that attacking midfield role. To his credit, he did it, but didn't do it on a consistent basis, and we felt that we could wait and hope that he does that next season, but at the same time, our thoughts are that we'll move on at this point and look to the incoming coach to guide us accordingly in that direction.”
The club's head honcho did stress, however, that it may not be the end of the road for all players whose options were not exercised.
“Prior to [Monday's] Waiver Draft and prior to the Re-Entry Draft, there is still an opportunity for the incoming coach, if we can announce him fairly quickly, to actually sit down with the players that we've made decisions on,” Lenarduzzi said. “And, discuss with them, if in fact he's that interested, the opportunity of re-signing.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.