VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Fans of the Vancouver Whitecaps now have a better idea why the club struggled.
Media day on Tuesday showed the team was badly divided into cliques.
“Normally professional athletes are very cautious as to what they are going to say. But when it’s the year-end press conference, I think a lot of these guys felt this really is the end of their time in Vancouver, so they let at it.”
The Whitecaps were one win away from getting into the post-season, Solkowski points out, saying the divide appears to have started when they lost Defender Tim Parker.
“Who it may have come down to negotiations or the timing of the negotiations,” he explains. “A guy whose picture is still on transit buses here. That wasn’t the original plan, and they lost, the term in sports is, glue guys. They lost some of those.”
He adds one of those ‘glue guys’, captain Kendall Waston, was focused on the World Cup this year.
When it comes to the cliques within the team, Solkowski says it’s not uncommon, especially when some of the players come from similar regions or cultures.
“Naturally they get together. And that always was the case with the Vancouver Whitecaps. I spent time in their locker rooms and eating with the players at lunch, and you had your groups, but there was always the bond guys, learning Spanish, bringing everyone in. And I think they missed that this year.”
Supporters in soccer are often very loyal, and this year hasn’t been easy for Vancouver fans, Solkowski says.
While many have taken their frustration to social media, he points out supporters always came back to watch the ‘Caps play.
“Look at the turnstile, has anyone turned away from the Whitecaps this year, good or bad or ugly? They’re still packed.”
With the departure of teen star Alphonso Davies, who’s headed for Bayern Munich, Solkowski says fans are curious to see what next season will bring.
“This wasn’t a good team when it first started in MLS,” Solkowski adds. “You build, you get to know your players, it really becomes ground zero for them next year.”