Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps

A weekly sports column from the Free Press

After Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Vancouver Whitecaps lost 2-1 to FC Dallas on Sept. 23, Carl Robinson and his entire coaching staff were released from the organization.

Most of the players on the team were unhappy and while Robinson, a former Welsh international, took all responsibility of the team’s defeat to Dallas, some of them wouldn’t let him have all of the credit. Captain and centre-back Kendall Watson made his anger public.

Under the guidance of Robinson, the Whitecaps have made the playoffs in three of his full four seasons with the club. In those three playoff runs, the Caps only managed one win. This year, at the time of his firing, the club is four points outside of the playoff bubble with only five games left.

Outside of league play, Robinson guided Vancouver to the semi-final in the CONCACAF Champions League (losing to Tigres UANL of Mexico) in the 2016-17 season and a Canadian Championship title in 2015. His record with the club his 64-59-42. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. At least it’s in the positive.

The play was also getting stale, goals got harder to come by and the payroll was an issue, making Robinson unable to attain high-level and expensive soccer players that could be the real difference makers. After four years of not being able to buy these players, seemingly Robinson had enough and started pushing back at the penny-pinching (Vancouver is ranked 16th out of 23 team’s payrolls with $8,233,011.70) ways of the board.

The only bright spot for Vancouver fans was the sale of Alphonso Davies, the 17-year-old wonderkid and the youngest player ever to appear for Canada’s national men’s team to Bayern Munich for $22 million (USD). The sale is a record for MLS and Vancouver.

It’s a bittersweet sale though, allowing a future key player to leave but also raking in a lot of cash that will be used to strengthen a weak starting line-up for the team that already has some overpaid benchwarmers. Now being from Toronto, it’s probably not surprising that I prefer Toronto FC over the Whitecaps (though I am a fan of both) but it is still sad to see Robinson go.

Robinson essentially finished his playing career with Toronto, playing 74 games and scoring three goals with the Reds between 2007-2010, before moving on to fellow New York Red Bulls ( he only played 12 games though before officially retiring).

He’s also managed to be a popular figure at both clubs in his respective positions, so it is unlikely that he will be out of a position for very long.

Looking at the current standings (as of Sep. 28), the San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids, Orlando City and Chicago Fire are already eliminated from the playoffs and could be a possible coaching spot for Robinson, provided the coaches of those teams are fired or resign (the position of head coach for San Jose is already open, with Steve Ralston appointed interim coach for the time being).


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