BURNABY, B.C. — Tom Soehn will coach his first home match as Vancouver Whitecaps FC boss on Saturday when his team hosts Philadelphia at Empire Field (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
More importantly, however, has been the full week of training ahead of the game. Taking advantage of the preparatory time, Soehn has put his stamp on the team’s training regime as it searches for a recipe for success.
The first step that he took was moving training this week to a natural grass field at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
“Training on the turf time and time again obviously wears you out a little bit,” explained Soehn this week. “Having the balance of the two as we now look to play a lot of road games on grass is important. We’re going to make sure we keep switching it up and get them in their comfort zone.”
Another important facet Soehn has looked to implement at training is a greater degree of intensity.
“One thing is that we want to make it more competitive, and I think you’re starting to see that as guys are battling each other and putting in the work,” said Soehn. “It’s really a byproduct of how you work during the week is how you end up on the weekend.”
Tactically, the main focus has been on possession and attacking — and defending as a unit.
“We’re continuing to try to keep the ball and work on our possession and keep working together to make sure that we’re all on the same page,” said captain Jay DeMerit. “The more consistent we are now on the training field, the better we’ll be in the games and that has to be our focus now moving forward.”
The coaching staff has also been working hard to closely analyze opponents in hopes of finding weaknesses. That is becoming easier for the Whitecaps after having already faced 13 of the 17 other MLS teams.
“Anytime you play a team for the second time, you know a little bit more about them,” said Soehn, “and for our team that doesn’t have a whole lot of MLS experience, second time through you’re going to have a better feel of what you’re up against.”
The players have been responding to Soehn’s coaching and have been impressed by his active approach to turning around their struggles.
“It’s been good,” said DeMerit. “He’s in and around the guys and he’s holding a lot of meetings and a lot of organizational stuff. He joins in on training himself sometimes, too. He’s an active manager and it’s good to have him around.”
Now the team will look to show improvement where it counts, beginning by getting the Soehn era at home off to a winning start.
“We can’t lose any more games or any more points at home,” added goalkeeper Joe Cannon. “That starts this week."