The Vancouver Whitecaps are sticking with one of their own to help lead them back to the MLS promised land.
The club announced Monday that it has promoted assistant and former English soccer and MLS veteran Carl Robinson to the top post in Vancouver, ending a coaching search that lasted six weeks after former boss Martin Rennie was let go in late October.
Robinson – who joined the ‘Caps coaching staff in January 2012, shortly after announcing his retirement from a 16-year playing career – is now tasked with lifting the Whitecaps into rarified air in MLS after missing the playoffs two of their first three seasons in the league.
“We are th rilled to announce Carl Robinson as our new head coach,” said club president Bob Lenarduzzi in a statement. “During his time with the club, Carl has shown the qualities you look for in a successful head coach – a strong leader, great communicator with both youth and experienced players, high soccer IQ, technical and tactical intelligence, and a great work ethic. We are confident that Carl is a coach who will bring out the best in his players and help our club achieve success this season and beyond."
Orginally from Wales, Robinson started his professional playing career in 1995 and spent seven years with Wolverhampton before bouncing around England until 2007. He made the move to MLS in 2007 and was a well-liked midfielder who appeared in 74 games over four seasons with Toronto FC.
He was traded to the New York Red Bulls in March 2010 and spent two seasons with the club, and scored the lone goal of his tenure there during a road win at BMO Field against Toronto FCs.
Robinson also made 52 appearances for the Welsh national team between 1999-2009.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two seasons in Vancouver, and am looking forward to the start of the 2014 season – the club’s 40th anniversary,” Robinson said. “We have an exceptional fan base, a solid core of youth and experience, and a committed ownership group. I’m really excited about the opportunity to drive this club forward.”
Rennie led the team to the playoffs in 2012 – his first full year on the job – but struggled to build momentum last season, when the Whitecaps finished seventh in the Western Conference and three points off the playoff pace. Despite their struggles, the Whitecaps did claim the Cascadia Cup over their regional rivals from Seattle and Portland, their first such title since all three MLS teams competed for the title in 2011.
The Whitecaps’ coaching vacancy was linked in various media outlets over the past month to, among others, former Montreal head coach Jesse Marsch, Great Britain Olympic head coach Stuart Pearce, former Real Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis and, perhaps most notably, former US and Egyptian national team head coach Bob Bradley.
Vancouver have yet to bring any new players into the fold this offseason, but lost a number of starters to either retirement (defender Lee Young-Pyo), trade (goalkeeper Brad Knighton) or outright release (defender Brad Rusin and midfielder Daigo Kobayashi). They hold eight picks in next month's SuperDraft, inlcuding the third and seventh overall picks.