Whitecaps’ Robert Earnshaw trades cleats for whistle, Under-14 duties

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Whitecaps forward Robert Earnshaw (left) and Seattle Sounders defender Tyrone Mears vie for the ball during their CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Seattle. Earnshaw announced his retirement from playing the game on on Thursday.
 
 

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Robert Earnshaw (left) and Seattle Sounders defender Tyrone Mears vie for the ball during their CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Seattle. Earnshaw announced his retirement from playing the game on on Thursday.

Photograph by: Jennifer Buchanan, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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VANCOUVER — Robert Earnshaw’s time with the Vancouver Whitecaps was short but memorable.

He scored two goals in nine Major League Soccer matches, one a stunning stoppage-time winner, and served as an erudite observer of the game, a product of an 18-year professional career that included stints in England, Scotland, Israel, the United States and Canada.

Now he hopes to impart that knowledge to an even younger group than the Whitecaps he played with in 2015. Earnshaw announced his retirement Thursday and will immediately begin coaching the Whitecaps’ Under-14 pre-residency program. He will also work with the MLS squad’s strikers.

The 35-year-old was born in Zambia and moved to Wales when he was nine, earning 59 international caps for Wales and scoring 220 goals in 520 matches at the club level.

“I’m excited and ready to move on to the next stage of my life,” Earnshaw said in a statement. “I look forward to the opportunity to share what I’ve learned and help shape the club’s young prospects.”

In a letter to Caps’ fans, Earnshaw reflected on his early years in Malawi “making footballs with plastic bags, having crocodiles as school pets, and living in an African coal mine village.”

He lost his dad at age nine, and said “football has been like a father to me. It has taught me about life, about working hard and staying focused. Football taught me how to be a man on and off the field and to be a better person.”

THE MIGHTY FRASER: It feels at times like it’s taken longer to get right-sided fullback Fraser Aird into the Whitecaps’ camp than it took Simon Fraser to make the expedition on the B.C. river that bears his name.

The Caps have been chasing depth behind Costa Rican Jordan Smith ever since deciding they couldn’t afford to bring back last season’s starter Steven Beitashour. During the MLS SuperDraft three weeks ago, head coach Carl Robinson indicated he was close to completing a deal for a right back “over the line.”

Last week, reports out of Scotland indicated Glasgow Rangers defender Aird, a 20-year-old Scottish-Canadian, was the target, likely on a loan arrangement. Aird, who earned his first Canadian senior team cap last fall, joined the Rangers Academy in 2011, but has seen little action this season.

Robinson, while declining to identify Aird by name, said this week if a deal couldn’t be completed soon, “we’re going to have to move on.” But word is the acquisition should be done before the Caps leave Sunday for a pre-season tournament in Arizona.

STILL HERE? Striker Darren Mattocks scored just three goals for the Whitecaps last season. Reports of his departure, through trade or transfer, seem to number in the dozens.

But he’s still a Cap, although he’s been pushed even further down the depth chart by the off-season acquisition of Japanese forward Masato Kudo.

“I hear it all the time, I see it all the time, but it never really unsettles me,” Mattocks, who is entering his fifth season, told reporters this week as the Caps continued pre-season training at UBC. “This is MLS. Players get traded all the time, but once I’m in Vancouver, my mind is solely on Vancouver.”

gkingston@vancouversun.com

 
 
 
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Vancouver Whitecaps forward Robert Earnshaw (left) and Seattle Sounders defender Tyrone Mears vie for the ball during their CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Seattle. Earnshaw announced his retirement from playing the game on on Thursday.
 

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Robert Earnshaw (left) and Seattle Sounders defender Tyrone Mears vie for the ball during their CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Seattle. Earnshaw announced his retirement from playing the game on on Thursday.

Photograph by: Jennifer Buchanan, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Vancouver Whitecaps forward Robert Earnshaw (left) and Seattle Sounders defender Tyrone Mears vie for the ball during their CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Seattle. Earnshaw announced his retirement from playing the game on on Thursday.
Vancouver Whitecaps striker Robert Earnshaw warms up prior to playing the New York FC in a regular season MLS game at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver on Sept. 26, 2015.
Robert Earnshaw announced his retirement Thursday and will join the Whitecaps coaching ranks.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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