Photo by Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports
By MICHAEL PENG
Following a stellar first year on the helm, Carl Robinson was rewarded with a multi-year contract extension by the Vancouver Whitecaps in January and he has proved every bit of his worth since then.
Through 20 games this season, the Whitecaps are 10-8-2 and in a three-way tie atop the Western Conference with 32 points alongside the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas. This also comes after the club got off to the best start by any club this season, winning four of its first five contests.
Vancouver’s 10 wins are also tops in the league, matched by only Seattle and D.C. United. The club’s record for win totals in a season stands at 13, which was set in 2013, but it’s safe to say that Robinson’s team is on pace to shatter that mark in the second half.
What makes Robinson’s accomplishments that much more impressive is not only the fact that he is one of the youngest head coaches in the league at 38 years old, but he is also turning the Whitecaps into an unexpectedly legitimate contender amid a loaded Western Conference this season.
For that, he is named the SBI MLS Mid-Season Coach of the Year, as voted on by the SBI editorial staff. Robinson edged out D.C. United’s Ben Olsen, Orlando City’s Adrian Heath, Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes and San Jose Earthquakes’ Dom Kinnear for the honors.
Here is a rundown of the top five Mid-Season Coach of the Year finalists, as chosen by the SBI editorial staff:
SBI MLS MID-SEASON COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
1. CARL ROBINSON
Robinson took the Vancouver Whitecaps to new heights last season with a 50-point finish in the regular season, a return to the MLS Cup playoffs, a win at the Cascadia Cup and a first-ever berth in the CONCACAF Champions League, and he is expected to take them to even higher grounds this year.
2. BEN OLSEN
Owners of the league’s best record at the halfway point, Ben Olsen and D.C. United look to run away with the Eastern Conference top seed after notching 35 points — eight ahead of the second-place Columbus Crew — through 21 games.
3. ADRIAN HEATH
With 24 points so far in its inaugural season in the MLS, Orlando City would be a playoff team if the season ended today under the leadership of Heath. Heath has had to work around a few injuries so far this year but still managed to keep the expansion club as one of the more exciting teams to watch in the Eastern Conference.
4. PETER VERMES
Don’t let the standings fool you, Sporting Kansas City may be floating just above the playoff line in the Western Conference right now but Vermes’ club has lost the fewest amount of games among all teams this season with just three. SKC has also played fewer games than every other team in the West so expect a big second-half run by the club.
5. DOM KINNEAR
After what can only be called an abysmal season in 2014, the San Jose Earthquakes brought in Kinnear to turn the franchise around with a new stadium in place and so far it has worked out well. The Earthquakes currently possess 25 points and are just one spot (five points) out of a playoff berth.
Who is your Mid-Season Coach of the Year? Who do you think should have made the list that didn’t?
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