There are rumors swirling around the internet about the impeding sacking of Vancouver Whitecaps manager Martin Rennie. If these rumors are true, Vancouver are making a terrible mistake.
In the year before Rennie took over, Vancouver had finished tied for last in the league with New England Revolution while giving up 55 goals on the year. As soon as Rennie took over, he held a training and evaluation camp to assess the players that he was left with. He didn’t like what he saw, and that was evident by the 25 roster moves made during his first offseason with the club.
His main focus was solidifying the defense, and did he ever do that. The acquisitions of Martin Bonjour and Lee Young-Pyo paired with the returning Jay DeMerit paid immediate dividends for the western Canadian club as they qualified for the postseason in 2012 while allowing only 41 goals.
Rennie was not afraid to shake up the roster that season, and nobody was safe. In July, Vancouver traded forward Sebastien Le Toux to New York Red Bulls for speedy midfielder Dane Richards; Richards would only last a half season with the club. Later that month, they announced the signing of their second DP Kenny Miller from Cardiff City and subsequently traded forward Eric Hassli to Toronto FC. Vancouver eventually lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the knockout round of the postseason.
In the second year of the Rennie reign, Vancouver took a step back defensively, allowing 45 goals. Yet, they improved their record, accumulating a franchise-high 48 points. Unfortunately for Vancouver, the rest of the west also improved, leaving them on the outside looking in to the postseason. There were some real positives for Rennie though as he was dealt a few critical blows during preseason camp and in the first match.
In January, the team’s first DP Barry Robson left the team to return to England. Rennie upgraded his loss by signing Nigel Reo-Coker from English side Ipswich Town. This signing was a coup for Rennie, having just picked up a center midfielder who was still in the prime of his career and had international football experience with the England under-21 squad.
During the first match of the season, captain Jay DeMerit went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Vancouver went on to win the match, but would be without DeMerit for six months. Even without the captain and lifeblood of his team, Rennie still steered Vancouver to its best season yet and won the first Cascadia Cup trophy for the club since joining MLS in 2011. Rennie will finish with an MLS record of 24-19-25 in his two seasons and two trips to the finals of the Canadian Championships.
With the young pieces coming back next season, you can expect Vancouver to be in a good position to make a run to the postseason. It’s a shame that the man who brought this club from the bottom to where it is now will not be on the touchline next season.