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Wednesday
Feb292012

Three Success Factors for 2012

*** Exciting days. Officially this is my first ever blog post, and I'm hoping I don't make a complete arse of myself. Mark and Raj approached me a few weeks back to ask if I was interested in contributing.  At first I had my hesitations, but I figured it made no sense for me to allow these two to have all the fun.  Now before my first post I thought I'd share a bit about myself.  I'm a passionate footy fan, and season ticket holder with the Vancouver Whitecaps.  I've worked as the stadium announcer for the Victoria Highlanders of the USL PDL division, interned for the Vancouver Whitecaps, and most recently received my diploma in sports management at Camosun College. I'm the toast of Inverurie, Scotland...or at least that's what my mother tells me...and I've been a Chelsea supporter my whole life.  C'mon you Blues!  I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions on anything related to footy in Canada, and in particular the 'Caps.  Now here we go...***

 March 10th is closing in fast and I couldn't be more excited. Our inaugural seasons last place finish can now move to the back of our minds as we look forward to 2012 with Martin Rennie at the helm. Here's my 3 key areas that are in alarming need of improvement from Teitur and Tommy's reign that left us with the worst record in MLS.

LEADERSHIP

After appointing fan-favourite Teitur Thordarson, we were led to believe that everything looked bright for our first jaunt into MLS. Quite the opposite with so many div-2 players being given the opportunity to step up to the big stage and prove themselves, but failing miserably as trades and waives seemed to be a weekly occurrence throughout 2011. All that remain from the USL days; Chiumiento and Koffie both scouted as potential MLSers, and promising youngsters; Teibert, Alderson and Sylvestre. We really showed our desperation for experienced MLS campaigners. 

Swiftly, Teitur was given the boot after a run of 1 win in 12 and on the verge of Nutrilite supremacy at a thunder struck BMO Field. A place in the CONCACAF Champions League was within grasp for the likeable Icelander and the likelihood of a few more weeks at the club was scuppered with that game postponement. In stepped Director of Soccer Operations Tom Soehn, who continued Teitur's work with exactly the same squad, very little change and a repeated loss of form we found ourselves firmly at the foot of the Western Conference. Cheers Tommy. He may still be at the club and snapping up random Ghanaians, but if they turn out like Gershon Koffie his input in the background is acceptable,  As long as he stays out of Rennie's head and leaves the manager and his coaching staff to their work I believe we are in safe hands. 

DEFENDING

One word (and two letters) - Y.P. Lee - the little South Korean could prove to be a shrewd piece of business. The man he replaces, Jonny Leathers, energetic full back, but his erratic nature coupled with a loss of form after a fairly solid start to the season led to his demise. Costing us goals just as quickly, Michael Boxall. I found the Kiwi quite poor at the back, yes he may have a way to go before reaching his potential if any (insert deFrias argument here) but lets start with passing to your own team. DeMerit I will give the benefit of the doubt to, I really believe if he can get himself fit, he could start showing us why he was brought here from Watford, England. He was in and out of the side with injuries far too often, which could be said about most of the squad, but the burly American's tough tackling and aerial ability will be key for Round 2 along with the passion he brings to the team which in my mind raises the game of those around him. Rochat need I say anymore?  Just a different class, cool on the ball, and a sweet left foot. Our 2011 Caps MVP will continue to impress with his forward runs and tackling, and also soak up the lack of defending from Camilo Sanvezzo.

FITNESS

Injuries and lack of match sharpness cost us many points in 2011. The early season loss of Atiba Harris, piled with Jay Demerit constantly at the physio, Hassli's lack of match sharpness (not forgetting suspensions) and John Thorrington almost unseen throughout, are just a few guys that most teams would struggle to replace when you consider them to be the experience on the team. Welcome Dr. Rick Celebrini who could prove to be our biggest signing if he keeps these guys on the field.  Pair that with Rennie's emphasis on fitness and we now have a side capable of entertaining us all the way to playoffs.

We may have finished at the bottom but we always entertained; the unforgettable home opener against TFC, to our incredible fightback with Sporting KC, and not forgetting YouTube sensation Eric Hassli's wonder strike at Qwest Field. We have a much more experienced side and preseason has showed me that we have strengthened in defence, created a team of leaders, and look a lot less injury prone but only time will tell (Thorrington don't let me down).  


About Graham Tooke

Graham has worked as the stadium announcer for the Victoria Highlanders of the USL PDL division, interned for the Vancouver Whitecaps, and most recently received his diploma in sports management at Camosun College. The toast of Inverurie, Scotland, Tooke is a Chelsea supporter through and through. Follow @chelskitooke

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