News of Carl Robinson’s firing as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday came as a surprise to many.
Though the team sits in eighth-place in the Western Conference with a mediocre 11-11-7 record, four points back of a playoff spot with five matches remaining, most figured Robbo would last the season.
That includes captain Kendall Waston, who was not shy about sharing his displeasure with reporters on Tuesday.
“I was thinking, five games to go, if it was the right moment,” Waston said following practice. “Personally, I don’t think it was the right moment, but I’m not in charge of the club.
“I’m just a player, I’m just an employee. I don’t agree, but it’s my personal opinion. Obviously, it hurts a lot, because I don’t think it was the proper way that it happened.”
Waston is loyal to the man who brought him to Vancouver from his native Costa Rica five years ago. Robinson helped develop Waston into the player he is now – a leader of his club in Vancouver and a World Cup hero back home.
“It’s very difficult because, since I came here, obviously I came here because of the coaches, not for the club,” Waston admitted. “The coaches bring me, so I feel gutted for them. Since day one, they did a brilliant job with us. But this year, the points, games, wasn’t enough so they can finish the year. It’s a difficult moment. I’m not happy at all.”
Words can't express how grateful I am to you. Thanks to you, I could come to this team and grow up as a player. Beyond being a great coach you're a great human being!!
May God guide your new destiny!!
Thank you Robbo, Martin, Gordon, Stewart. pic.twitter.com/txEqn7rApU
— Kendall Waston (@kwaston88) September 26, 2018
The 30-year-old was visibly upset, showing raw emotion. He even hinted at a possible departure from the only MLS club he has ever known in the not-too-distant future.
“I have a contract one more year, but you never know what’s going to happen at the end of the season. The coach leaves, it’s normal that the captain of the ship leaves.
“It happens, it’s normal in football.”
There have been rumblings that Waston was already unhappy with management. Multiple sources have indicated that Waston wanted to fly directly to Costa Rica to visit his son after his country was eliminated from the World Cup in June. The request was not granted, and Waston returned directly to Vancouver for a match on July 1.
Now, with Robinson getting shown the door before the end of the season, it could be the last straw for Waston.
“I’m not happy. It hurts, it hurts,” Waston said, doubling down. “I’m not happy when they trade a teammate. I’m not happy when they move somebody that I care for, that I love, you know. If I’m not happy when they move a teammate, now I’m not happy when they move the coach that brings me here.
“At the end, coaches move, players move. The only person that’s going to stay here forever, is the club. That is what this is about.”
Coming off his outstanding performance at the World Cup, the attention and buzz around Waston has never been higher. His value to other teams has probably never been higher, either.
It’ll be interesting to see where the Whitecaps go from here.
Confidence in the club from fans, media, and players has taken a hit. That means their next coaching hire, along with off-season player acquisitions, will be of increased importance this winter.
“I have to give my everything always, even that now we have a new coach. We are going to give until the end, one-hundred per cent to represent our job as best as possible. What’s going to happen next year? Nothing I know, if I’m going to be here. I’m just going to finish as best as I can this year.”
Robinson coached 165 matches with Whitecaps FC, leading the team held a 64-59-42 record. Vancouver made three MLS playoff appearances in 2014, 2015, and 2017.
Whitecaps FC Academy technical director Craig Dalrymple will lead the team as acting head coach, with club coaches Rich Fagan, Steve Meadley, and Raegyn Hall. The 44-year-old Dalrymple will not be in the running for the full-time position next season.