VANCOUVER, B.C. – There hasn’t been much change with the Vancouver Whitecaps since the club named Martin Rennie head coach for the 2012 Major League Soccer season.
That changed on Wednesday with the Scotsman’s decided to bring his own coaching staff in, meaning assistant coaches Colin Miller and Denis Hamlett were suddenly surplus to requirements.
That won’t be the last bit of movement as the 36-year-old seeks to transform the last-place team into a competitive squad. That continues with an 11-day evaluation camp in early November.
Captain Jay DeMerit believes the players will be pushed to the limit after such a grueling and psychologically draining campaign.
“Guys are beat up, guys have been fighting for a long time,” DeMerit told MLSsoccer.com following the team’s last match of the season. “Seasons in soccer are longer probably than most professional sports, if not all. Seasons are a grind and there’s a lot of guys that are going to be tired.”
Rennie demonstrated with his previous club, the NASL's Carolina RailHawks, that he is a strong tactician and motivator. But the first thing he did upon his appointment in Carolina in 2009 was to clear house — big time.
Only three players survived that clear-out, and now the former Falkirk ball-boy is hoping that what is essentially a tryout will help the Whitecaps build a strong foundation for next season.
For ‘Caps defender Alain Rochat, who requested that he not start in the club’s final road game against FC Dallas due to tiredness, a postseason evaluation camp is a new experience. He believes it will be just as challenging for those who have hardly featured as those who have played a lot.
“I’ve never been in this situation,” Rochat said. “So I can’t tell you exactly how the feelings are. But the players who didn’t play that much this year, they have to prove [themselves] and be strong in these 10 days. After a long, long season like that, it’s not easy to find the last power you have in your body, but we’ll have a lot of talks with the new coach and see what he expects of the team.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.