Carl Robinson is out as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Robinson – along with assistant Martyn Pert and goalkeeping coach Stewart Kerr – was told by the club shortly after 7 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday morning.
Robinson was the fourth-longest tenured boss in MLS. His time in Vancouver ends with the Whitecaps sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, four points behind the sixth-placed Seattle Sounders with five games remaining.
Robinson guided the Whitecaps to the playoffs in three of the past four seasons. He will forever be remembered as the man at the helm for the club’s first-ever postseason victory, a commanding 5-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes in the knockout round of the 2017 playoffs.
Despite working with one of the lowest budgets in the league, Robinson guided the club to two conference semi-finals in the past three seasons. In the end, the quality and financial power of eventual MLS Cup winners Portland in 2015 and reigning champions Seattle in 2017 proved too high a hurdle for the Whitecaps to overcome.
Only D.C. United’s Ben Olsen, Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes and Columbus Crew’s Gregg Berhalter – all stalwarts of U.S. Soccer – have been on the job longer than Robinson, who was hired by the Whitecaps in December of 2013.
The Welshman’s MLS regular-season record with Vancouver of 235 points from 165 games stacks up very favourably with the American trio over that period:
Vermes - 165 games, 68 wins, 43 draws, 54 losses - 247pts (232 goals scored, 192 goals against). Made the playoffs in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Berhalter - 166 games, 66 wins, 44 draws, 56 losses - 242pts (252 goals scored, 240 goals against). Made the playoffs in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Olsen - 164 games, 61 wins, 40 draws, 63 losses - 223pts (227 goals scored, 237 goals against). Made the playoffs in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Robinson - 165 games, 64 wins, 42 draws, 59 losses - 234pts (229 goals scored, 233 goals against). Made the playoffs in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Robinson took full responsibility after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to FC Dallas.
“The game is pretty close with most teams each week but it comes down to details and they decide games,” he said. “It’s my responsibility, I am in charge. I am the captain of the ship and it’s my fault why we lost today.”
Players inside the dressing room were impressed that their manager took the blame despite sensing his time in Vancouver was coming to an end.
The players became aware the day before the first leg of the Canadian Championship final with Toronto FC that Robinson’s assistants hadn’t been given contract extensions beyond the 2018 season, planting seeds of doubt that the coaching staff would be retained.
Multiple players spoke publicly and privately about the influence Robinson had on their careers.
“Quite simply, [Robinson is] a wonderful human being who cares deeply about people and relationships. I hope he stays here for a long time,” one notable player told TSN on that day.
The Whitecaps decided now was the time to end that relationship. In a release the club said a “comprehensive search” for a new head coach will begin immediately.
“We have a lot of respect and appreciation for Carl and his team, and are thankful for the contributions they have made to this club. A lot of thought and consideration has gone into this decision, which was made with the best interests of the club moving forward,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi in the release.
“With five games left, we remain focused on our opportunity to make the playoffs. As we look to 2019 and beyond, we are committed to being a championship contender and a global search for a coach to lead this vision will start today.”