Sports Soccer

Busy Rennie shoots down speculation moves 0

By Hosea Cheung, 24 hours Vancouver

Davide Chiumiento (right) was in Vancouver this weekend but Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said his return to the club would be a ‘long shot.’ (Reuters)

Davide Chiumiento (right) was in Vancouver this weekend but Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said his return to the club would be a ‘long shot.’ (Reuters)

It doesn’t seem like there’s much opportunity for Martin Rennie to take time off these days, especially not during this so-called off-season.

While the Vancouver Whitecaps head coach did manage to get away to Cabo for a vacation and take a trip to Nepal to coach kids, he still kept in contact with the club as preparations continue for the 2013 season — the franchise’s third year in Major League Soccer.

“Sometimes the off-season is almost more busy because you do so much work, setting things up and getting the right players and things like that,” the Scotsman said of the non-stop process Monday. “It’s definitely busy no doubt about that.”

With training camp about a month away — players will report for the pre-season on Jan. 20 — roster changes are well underway.

Last Friday, the club selected Brazilian striker Paulo Junior in the second stage of the MLS re-entry draft. The team has until this Friday to make him a genuine offer to keep his rights for the 2013 season.

Rennie said discussions are in the works and he liked what the 23-year-old can provide for the club.

“He’s a quick player and has got a decent finish,” he said. “He’s got some good attributes, he’s a dangerous player and he’s still young. He’s got a big upside but there’s quite a lot of factors that would need to fall into place before we would actually see him play for the Whitecaps.”

Paulo Jr. appeared in 36 regular season matches from 2010 to 2012 for Real Salt Lake, scoring four goals and adding six assists. Rennie envisions the 5-foot-7 Teresina native potentially fitting wide right for Vancouver — an area that remains a priority.

“We’re still looking for someone there,” he said. “I’ve seen him play there and I think he’s done quite well. We’ve got quite a few options that we’re looking at and he’s one of them.”

In the re-entry draft process, the club also lost injury-prone American John Thorrington, who was picked up by D.C. United. But the experienced midfielder’s void could possibly be filled by Davide Chiumiento. The former ’Cap tweeted he was in Vancouver this weekend and his appearance sparked plenty of rumours online after he was spotted having lunch with Rennie.

Chiumiento was transferred to FC Zurich in his native Switzerland on July 11 and scored twice in 10 appearances with his new club. Prior to that, he was a fan favourite with the Whitecaps, having played in 42 games.

Rennie, however, denies that the 28-year-old is returning to the fold.

“It would be unlikely because he’s signed for FC Zurich,” he said. “That’s just speculation that’s out there but we’d always like having Davide here so the door would always be open. It would be a bit of a long shot.”

And as for the get-together, well, that was just to catch up.

“I know him pretty well and had a good relationship with him. He was around and we had a chance to grab lunch. It was more just talking about family and that kind of stuff.”

Meanwhile, striker Kenny Miller was reportedly being courted by several Scottish clubs to play for them on loan. The Whitecaps’ designated player, who is currently training with the third-division Glasgow Rangers, would need approval by Vancouver before suiting up for a different club ahead of the 2013 season.

“No one has discussed it with me,” Rennie said, adding he doesn’t really see an advantage in loaning out players prior to the season. “If there was a case where we were presented with then we would consider that at the time, but generally speaking I don’t really see too much benefit in it.”

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