VANCOUVER, B.C. — It was the worst-kept secret in Vancouver, and on Tuesday the Whitecaps made it official: Carolina RailHawks boss Martin Rennie was named as the new ‘Caps head coach, starting in the 2012 Major League Soccer season.
Rennie has enjoyed a brief but successful spell in the lower levels of North American professional soccer, having guided the Cleveland City Stars to a USL-2 championship in 2008 and the Carolina RailHawks to the USSF Division 2 finals in 2010.
“We are thrilled to have Martin joining our club,” said Whitecaps CEO Paul Barber at a press conference at Empire Field. “Martin is widely recognized as one of the top young coaches in North America and has already experienced tremendous success in his coaching career. Martin possesses all the qualities we look for in a head coach and shares our club philosophy.”
Rennie’s RailHawks are running away with the NASL regular season title with 44 points, 12 points clear of second-place Puerto Rico Islanders. The Thurso, Scotland, native will see out the rest of the year with the RailHawks before joining the Whitecaps full time for the 2012 season.
Growing up in Falkirk, Rennie supported the local side Falkirk FC as a child and was a ballboy. He first learned of the Whitecaps when he collected stickers of soccer players during his youth, and noticed that one of his heroes, Peter Beardsley, played an early part of his career in Vancouver during the 1980s in the original North American Soccer League.
“This is a club I’ve known about for a very long time, and it’s an honor to have this opportunity. It’s only a few years ago since I’ve come to North America to start coaching, but I want to thank the players, staff and the owners of those teams who have given me this chance, particularly the Carolina RailHawks.”
Individually, Rennie has been nominated for Coach of the Year honors an incredible four seasons running, picking up the award at USL-2 level during his two seasons with the Stars.
In terms of his qualifications, he has a UEFA "A" Licence, which he earned at the age of 26 following a knee injury which ended his professional playing career.
“Playing wise, I like to keep possession of the ball as best we can,” said Rennie, whose RailHawks have employed a very aggressive 4-3-3 formation this season. “I like to penetrate when we get into the opposition’s half – not just keep the ball for the sake of it.
"I also want to make us very hard to play against. Teams I’ve coached have regularly been good defensively, hard to beat and hard to break down – that’s the bedrock of all good teams – they don’t lose goals, they defend well, but they also try to build from the back and play entertaining soccer.”
Interim head coach Tom Soehn, who took over for Teitur Thordarson in May, will finish out the 2011 season on the sideline before moving back upstairs fulltime into his director of soccer operations position.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon
Martin Rennie Press Conference