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Vancouver Whitecaps End 2018 Season with a Flame War at Final Media Presser

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BOB FRID

The Vancouver Whitecaps held their year-end presser this afternoon, and it was…interesting. After a disappointing season in which the now fired manager proclaimed he had his best squad as a manager, and that there were some players that were vocally disgruntled at Carl Robinson’s firing, it is unsurprising that some strong opinions were given at the media event; however, few of us could have suspected that players would be so willing to share their grievances.

Throughout Carl Robinson’s tenure there have been questions around the locker room cohesiveness. Apparently, these issues have been known to the club’s front office for a while.

However, the depth of the problems were not confirmed to the public, or to media, until Tuesday afternoon’s presser, as it became a focal point of player interviews. We were unable to have someone from 86Forever attend the event, but we are thankful to AFTN and Har Journalist for sharing their notes on Twitter.

New keeper Stefan Marinovic, who has played for the New Zealand national team as well as in the Bundesliga 2, noted that he had “never seen a team that had so many cliques.” He added that it was very apparent that when there were problems, some players’ true nature came out (AFTN). Again, this should not come as a surprise to most of you as it has been something that has been discussed previously. I won’t get into rumors or opinions here, as I have nothing to back up any claims about the various cliques, and certainly do not want to make accusations without strong evidence, but multiple out-going players have hinted at, or fairly explicitly stated that, there were groups of players on the club that were tight and segregated.

There were those that discounted this viewpoint, including the Whitecaps captain Kendall Waston. While I agree with his statement that it is not correct that “only two or three guys played for the Whitecaps” and that not everyone can be friends, there is a difference between being friends off the pitch and hanging out (I don’t hang out with my colleagues from work), and creating us/them divides on the team. There may be people you dislike or that you don’t agree with on fundamental issues in your workplace, but that doesn’t mean you can’t respect their viewpoint or work with them towards a common goal. Thus, it is easy for someone to state that they did not see a divide, when they are part of the ‘in’ group.

Of course, some were not happy with their teammates airing dirty laundry. Efrain Juarez, who has not been heard from since the midway point of the season, and probably needs to be considered one of Carl Robinson’s poorest signings, due to his ineffectiveness and discipline issues, stated “That is a coward...I don’t believe what they say. To be honest, I don’t respect”. In my opinion, this very statement signifies the issues that existed within the locker room and some of the key issues with the players.

At the center of a lot of the conversations were the captain of the club Kendall Waston. You will recall that it has been a difficult year for the Tico, as his defensive partner Tim Parker was moved prior to the season, and he had a major flare-up with one of the Supporters groups, which he seemed to address a bit.

It has also been rumored that Waston had been seeking to leave the club at the end of this season, despite signing a new designated player contract prior to this season, and being under contract until 2020. Today, he confirmed to the media that he is seeking to leave the club.

He was quite vocal about his displeasure in the Robinson firing and certainly placed a lot of the blame on the front office. It is unclear if the firing led to Waston’s desire to move on, but with the problems that seem to be plaguing this team right now, a good house cleaning, including some of the team leaders that may have been part of the problem, may be the best course of action.

It is a shame that it appears that the final memories fans will have of Waston is this, as he has been an integral part of this club for several years and gave fans many memorable moments. Some good.

Some not so good.

It looks like there is a lot to fix with the Vancouver Whitecaps for the incoming manager (Marc dos Santos). That is, if he still wants the position.

Luckily, the Caps should have plenty of space and money to do so. While many might not be excited for next season, it is worth noting that the Caps were near a playoff club despite all the turmoil. With the Davies money and the (probable) Waston money, the club has a great opportunity to turn things around and move in the right direction.

We don’t want to make this TOO long, so for more highlights from the presser this afternoon, make sure to check out AFTN (https://twitter.com/aftncanada) and Har Journalist (https://twitter.com/HarJournalist).

What are your thoughts on the information we learned today? Are you surprised? What do you expect going forward? Let us know your thoughts.