Two months after deciding to fire their first coach, the Vancouver Whitecaps have found their new head man in 36 year old Martin Rennie. Rennie, currently with the Carolina Railhawks of the NASL, will complete his current duties and then will assume the new position at the end of this season with a reported three year deal. Until then Tom Soehn will continue coaching and will move back to his Director of Soccer Operations position once Rennie completes his move.
A meteoric rise would be an understatement when it comes to describing the coaching career of Rennie as the Scotsman has been coaching for six years, including the current one, moving from PDL to MLS over that time. After a knee injury ended his playing time at the age of 25, Rennie went forward and worked on getting his UEFA licenses for coaching. His first job was taking over a struggling PDL side, the Cascade Surge and in one year led them to a PDL finals appearance.
He moved up after one season and took over the expansion Cleveland City Rockers of the USL Division 2 and quickly boosted their standing in the league. Rennie led the club to a runner up position in his and the team’s first year and earned himself coach of the year honours. He was able to improve on that in the following year as his team were able to win the championship of the USL division 2.
At the age of 33, Rennie moved to the Carolina Railhawks where he completely overhauled a struggling franchise, keeping only three players from the previous season. In his first season the Railhawks finished 2nd in the league, improving on that in his second year by finishing first and a berth into the finals. The current season have the Railhawks sitting at the top of the NASL table, 12 points clear of second, and have the top offense and defense in the league.
In acquiring Rennie as the next head coach, the Whitecaps have signed one of the brightest coaching prospects in North America. The three positions he has held so far have turned into success stories and the improvements did not take long at each stage. Within the first year the roster was normally built from scratch and the team was in a playoff position ready to compete for a championship. In every year his teams have finished top three in the regular season, made three championship finals and won a title.
In previous interviews, Rennie has stated that he runs organized practices and feels the dynamic in the locker room is vital to the team’s success. He is also young enough that he is not married to a single system and his tactics should be adaptable to the talent he has on the roster and the situation on the pitch. While many will draw comparisons between Teitur and Rennie when it comes to the level they coached before taking a MLS post, the main difference is that Rennie is younger and has experience building teams in the North American soccer culture.
Rennie gives the Caps a fresh voice in building the expansion team as it looks to create themselves into a top club in MLS. While there is a little bit of risk bringing in another coach that lacks MLS experience, Rennie has started at the bottom and built his resume by taking previously unsuccessful teams giving them an identity then taking them to the playoffs and championship runs. It is a perfect spot for him to land with the Whitecaps who have struggled in their first year with finding their identity and on the pitch.