Does Vancouver Whitecaps' Carl Robinson Deserve the MLS Coach of the Year Award?

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2015

Aug 1, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson looks on prior to the  game against the Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Vancouver won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps are riding high in 2015. They are one of the most entertaining teams in MLS, are fighting for the Supporters' Shield and just won their first-ever Voyageurs Cup after 13 years of trying.

Vancouver supporters have head coach Carl Robinson to thank for this success. However, it was just 18 months ago that Robinson was fighting for the job against a few marquee names.

When ex-coach Martin Rennie was fired after a disappointing 2013 campaign, the Whitecaps immediately went to work to find his replacement.

Frank Yallop was mentioned as a potential hire by Michael McColl of Away From the Numbers. Yallop was eventually hired by the Chicago Fire as both head coach and director of soccer just a few days later.

A wealth of candidates was brought in for interviews afterward. Robinson, one of Rennie's assistants at the time, was a frontrunner, but Bob Bradley became the top target, per Marc Weber of the Province.

There were three others who were interviewed as well. Current New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch, U.S. under-17 boss Richie Williams and the outspoken Preki were all considered by Vancouver, according to Weber.

The bid to land Bradley fell short. Yallop was in Chicago. That opened the door for Robinson, who was eventually hired.

The decision wasn't too much of a surprise. Robinson's name kept showing up no matter who was linked with the job in Vancouver.

The Whitecaps clearly made the correct decision. Robinson is now the winningest coach in Vancouver's MLS history. He earned the record-breaking win against Real Salt Lake on August 8. He now has 26 victories after triumphing over FC Dallas in the team's previous match.

Vancouver has already broken its single-season record for wins in a season. The Whitecaps will undoubtedly surpass 50 points, the most they've ever accumulated in one campaign.

The Whitecaps have rapidly improved since Robinson became head coach.
The Whitecaps have rapidly improved since Robinson became head coach.Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Whitecaps also trail the LA Galaxy by one point in the Supporters' Shield standings with a game in hand. The Voyageurs Cup triumph also guarantees that Vancouver will earn at least one trophy in back-to-back seasons for the first time.

Robinson's track record for signing talented Latin American players is particularly impressive.

One of these players is Kendall Waston, who has established himself as one of the league's top center backs since he was signed last summer.

Matias Laba is arguably MLS' best defensive midfielder. He was acquired from Toronto FC and is now the league's leading tackler, per WhoScored.com.

Pedro Morales has recorded 15 goals and 16 assists in 53 MLS appearances. He's now the club captain. 

Diminutive Uruguayan winger Cristian Techera has made a tremendous impact on the right flank. His technique and speed have proven difficult to contain this season.

Mauro Rosales and Nicolas Mezquida also provide vision and trickery in the final third behind the striker Octavio Rivero.

Carl Robinson has scoured Latin America for diamonds in the rough.
Carl Robinson has scoured Latin America for diamonds in the rough.Rich Lam/Getty Images

Rivero is not scoring at will like he was at the beginning of the season. However, he can unlock defenses with his intelligent runs, vision and strength.

The Whitecaps have depth in quality and also boast the youngest team in the league. Vancouver's average squad age is 24.3 years, per ESPN Deportes (via Alicia Rodriguez on the official MLS website).

Now that the Whitecaps have won the Voyageurs Cup, this may push them toward the Supporters' Shield.

Robinson has to be in the running for the Coach of the Year award. However, there are at least three others who will also be contending for this award.

Jesse Marsch may guide the New York Red Bulls to the top of the Eastern Conference with the league's lowest payroll, per ESPN FC.

Ben Olsen has done an incredible job with D.C. United, a team who will also fight for the Supporters' Shield without a marquee name on the roster.

Peter Vermes' Sporting Kansas City moved from the East to the Western Conference. Sporting has games in hand and are also in the race to win the shield.

However, Robinson still has a strong case. Not only does he have MLS' youngest team, but also they excel on both sides of the pitch.

The Whitecaps have conceded a league-low 26 goals and boast one the fastest counterattacking teams. Vancouver also has 13 players with at least one goal, which indicates how difficult it is to contain this side.

At this rate, Robinson will likely finish the season with Coach of the Year honors.

Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.

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