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Butler: Whitecaps are where Rennie wants them for now

Noel Butler
6/22/2012 10:46:26 PM
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Following the Vancouver Whitecaps draw with New York Red Bulls Wednesday night, Martin Rennie was back in the office early Thursday morning putting the final touches on preparations for Saturday evening's date with the league champions.

Contemplating Red Bulls' late equalizer Rennie was philosophical telling TSN.ca, "I think a lot of goals get scored late in games just because players start to get more tired, the game gets more open, teams will often try and stretch the game out to get the win, that's when gaps can open up and players make mistakes and I think that happened a little bit in our game."

While the Whitecaps have managed to score only 18 goals through 15 matches this isn't a statistic though that alarms Rennie, at least not just yet. "Some teams have scored more goals, but they've lost more games. Sometimes you maybe lose the game 3-2 but maybe you were 3 nil down. So sometimes it's a false statistic just the goals."

"For us we want to be scoring more goals but we've had a lot of clean sheets, I think more than any other team in the league but this is kind of what I've found with any team I've started coaching in the past."
 
"The 1st half of the first season it's been much more important to be hard to play against, hard to beat and difficult to score on, and I think we've managed to do that reasonably well but we have to continue working on that. In the second half of those seasons we became much more free flowing, high scoring teams. So that's what I'm hoping for again with the Whitecaps."

Someone Rennie will be relying on to score his share of that goal burden is Darren Mattocks, whose debut season has been anything but incident free. He is a player the 37-year old head coach has complete faith in.

"We've really not had him too much this season, he's been out injured and he's got suspended for the last game but whenever we've had him, when ever he's played he's done really, really well. He's been electric and makes a significant difference to our team, so it will be good to get him back with our team for Saturday."

When he's got his chances this season, Mattocks has certainly taken them and according to Rennie his attitude is every bit as good as his goal scoring prowess.
 
"He's a great guy, really nice guy. Good around the locker room, he makes friends with the guys really easy. Works extremely hard. On anything we've asked him to work on he's gone above and beyond. We couldn't have asked any more from his character or personality and obviously you get to see some of those results on the field so obviously we're delighted with him."

Having settled well into west coast life, Rennie predicts a tremendous upside for the overall second pick in this year's draft. "I think it only took him a few weeks to settle properly. His family is able to come visit him here now so that's helped him to settle in really well. He's got a great character and personality for that. He's really focused on being a soccer player and putting in the work it takes to make that happen. He's a guy no doubt who can go on to bigger and better things."

Approaching mid-season Rennie is satisfied with the club's current place in the standings and expects the Whitecaps can not only consolidate their position amongst the playoff teams but to make a move towards the front of the pack. "We're in the top 5 positions in the league and 3rd in our conference, a tough conference. We're where we hoped we'd be and we want to be rising up to where we are now."

With mid-summer comes the opening of the transfer window a period Rennie expects the club to play an active role in. "It's something we're definitely working on, we're always working on recruitment. I think there's a couple of positions we're still looking at strengthening but the hard part is getting guys that can come in and start for us and make a difference to our team and moving all the pieces that you need to move around to make that happen is the big challenge. Whether or not we can make this happen we'll have to wait and see."

With the long unsociable hours that come with life as a head coach in Major League Soccer alongside an unwavering travel schedule, Rennie is very mindful of having a life away from the pitch and time best spent with his young family.

"I love relaxing with my family most of the time that means going swimming or going to the park. I like to play golf when I get the chance, going to the gym and keeping fit. Starting to make good friends out here in Vancouver outside of the Whitecaps organization which I think is important."

He's even found time to take in EURO 2012. "I've watched some of it, obviously a lot of the games are on when we're training so I haven't seen them all live. Right at the start I said Germany would be the one that would win it and they're still in a good position to do that."

"I've been impressed with England and I'm not surprised because I think Hodgson is a really, really good coach and is really organized and good at putting things together well. It will be really interesting to see them against Italy. Two organized teams and who ever wins that could go on and have a big say."

Putting their impressive unbeaten league run on the line against the Galaxy in LA Saturday night the Whitecaps begin a stretch of games on the road that ends with the Galaxy visit BC Place July 17th.

With the Galaxy finally putting together back to back wins, Rennie relishes the challenge. "I think it's another important game for us. We've had a good month of June collecting 7 points out of 9. We have this 1 more game left in June then a little break before the next phase of games it's obviously an important west cost conference match up. It's a game that we look forward to."

"We like playing at the Home Depot Centre we've played there once already this season and got a win there. We've got good memories of being there and we just want to make sure we keep focused against a good team."

With five straight road games, Rennie doesn't at all feel aggrieved with the league's schedulers in fact if anything quite the opposite.  "I feel fine about it, the schedule is what ever they give to you so there's not too much control you have over that. There's not too much point in complaining about it. I think the good things about it is we can get our heads down and focus on playing a certain way on the road which can be pretty consistent and let's see where it gets us at the end of those games."

Those road games start Saturday night at the Home Depot Center and Rennie knows full well the value of getting off to the winning start  "Champions last year, they may have had a slow start but they are always going to be a big feather in your cap if you can beat them."


LA Galaxy V Vancouver Whitecaps can be seen live on TSN Saturday night 10:30pm et / 7:30pm pt

Noel Butler

Noel Butler


Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on TSN.ca. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/TheSoccerNoel and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.

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