The Vancouver Whitecaps are getting younger. Carl Robinson made it clear when he landed the head coach's role in December that his focus was going to be on youth, and Sunday's departure of Designated Player Kenny Miller was another indication of the Welshman's plan being put into action.
It was not the only factor in the departure, however, and the decision to terminate the Scot's contract early was a difficult one for Robinson and Miller, who are friends off the field and have been for years.
"When we were talking about Kenny's status, there were a number of factors that went in to it," Robinson told reporters in a conference call on Sunday afternoon. "It was his decision, my decision and a financial decision. From my perspective, we have an exciting group of young players, talented attacking players, and I think that everybody has seen over the first eight, nine games, that we have got great potential in these players."
The potential might be there, but losing a veteran player who Robinson described as "a fantastic role model, a fantastic professional on and off the field", is a big void to fill. There are only four players on the roster aged 30 or older, but Robinson said he feels his current group is not short on experience.
"What do you class as experience?" Robinson asked reporters. "Do you class age as an experience or do you class numbers of games as experience? I look at Mati Laba, and he's played 100 games and he's 22. For me, that's experience. Would I like someone older? Yes, but I'm probably looking in the category of 25, 26 to 30. We've got targets, we've got ideas of players that could be available within the league, as well as outside the league."
Miller's departure frees up a large amount of cap space, a Designated Player spot and an international roster slot. All of those aspects now give Robinson room for maneuvering and scouting to acquire a replacement.
- Get more Vancouver Whitecaps news at WhitecapsFC.com
Yet Robinson is in no rush to replace Miller and did not indicate whether any more additions will be made before the MLS transfer window closes on May 12 or whether Miller's replacement would be another DP.
"There will be two different ways that we can go," Robinson noted. "We are a small team, I know that, so there is an option of bringing a target guy in. I think that is something that we seriously need to consider. We have a lot of players that can score goals, and I think we've shown that, but my question is, do we have a goalscorer? There's a difference between being able to score goals and having a natural goalscorer.
"We'll sit down as coaches and as a club and identify some targets that might be available or we think that we can go after," Robinson continued. "If we think it's right to add to this group of talented youngsters, then we'll make a move. If it's not quite right, then I'm very comfortable going with these young players at the moment."