With stalwart forward Eric Hassli and defender Alain Rochat out injured, the Vancouver Whitecaps are likely to give former Union players Sébastien Le Toux and Jordan Harvey significant roles in Saturday’s game against the Union.
I chatted with Vancouver manager Martin Rennie about his preparations for Saturday’s game, and how the season has gone so far for the undefeated Whitecaps.
Aside from the absences of Hassli and Rochat, have you got any other team news to report?
No, I think those are the main ones. Eric was touch-and-go, so we just thought it was best to make sure that he’s 100 percent for the next game. Alain will probably be out for a couple of weeks.
Other than that, everything’s looking good, the main thing being that a number of guys are coming back. It’s working out. You always find that if you lose one, you gain one – it always seems to be that way.
Would it be a fair guess that Sébastien Le Toux will probably play up front with Hassli out?
No, not necessarily. I think Sébastien will play, but not necessarily up front.
With Rochat out, Jordan Harvey is a candidate to step in and replace him at left back. He’s one of the guys who used to play in Philadelphia. Has he or Sébastien said anything to the other guys on the team about what it’s like to come here?
No. We’ve talked a little bit about what the stadium is like, what the field is like, what the atmosphere is like – just as we would with anybody who knows about the team, or about where we’re going to play. But not too much more than that. I think they’re just like everybody else: excited about playing, and excited about the game.
What do you see from Philadelphia?
I’m sure they’ll be fired up for it. They’ve had a slow start, which brings with it a little bit of extra determination. So we know that we’re in a for a battle, and I’m sure a good game. They’re a good team, with good players, and it will be a tough game for us.
This is admittedly a bit of an odd question, but does it feel like your team is unbeaten since you’ve just come off a scoreless draw at home?
It feels like we’re unbeaten. We’ve started off pretty well. We’re always looking to improve upon it. For me as a new coach, I think it takes time to build a team the way you want it to be, and we’re just starting that process. But we’ve started off pretty well. We can improve, but it’s nice to be in the position we’re in at this point.
When I talked to you back in January at the NSCAA Convention, you were just getting started. What are your thoughts on how quickly your team has come together, especially given how diverse internationally the roster is?
Yeah, I think it’s come together well. We were unbeaten in the preseason and we’ve started the [regular] season off unbeaten. If you add that up, that’s about 12 games unbeaten, with eight or nine of those without losing a goal. So it has started off well.
But we want to set higher standards. We want to improve our play, we want to be more dangerous going forward, we want to be a big team in the league. That’s going to take, time, a lot of effort and a lot of work. I think given all the new players – and as you said, [being] from different countries, different leagues, different cultures – we’ve started off pretty well.