Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi, right, and Martin Rennie pose for photographs after the Scotland native was named head coach for the 2012 MLS season Tuesday during a press conference in Vancouver. ((Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press))

The Vancouver Whitecaps will have a new head coach next season.

The team announced Tuesday that Martin Rennie will take over the fledgling Major League Soccer side in 2012. He currently coaches the Carolina RailHawks of the North American Soccer League and will remain there for the rest of the season.

"This is a new challenge for me," Rennie said. "I always wanted to coach in MLS but to do it in Vancouver is a great opportunity for me.

"Meeting the ownership group, finding out what they are about, it matches what my philosophy is."

Vancouver president Bob Lenarduzzi said his club has been aware of Rennie for some time.

"He has been on our radar screen," he said. "We became aware of the fact other clubs were approaching him.

"We did not want to lose out on the opportunity."

The Whitecaps fired head coach Teitur Thordarson on May 30 and replaced him with director of soccer operations Tom Soehn on an interim basis.

Last in West

Vancouver defeated the Chicago Fire 4-2 last weekend but the club still sits last in the Western Conference with a 3-11-9 record.

The 36-year-old Rennie has the RailHawks in first place this season with a 14-3-2 record.

The Scottish-born Rennie led the club to a conference title last year before losing the championship 3-1 on aggregate to Puerto Rico.

He has been nominated as coach of the year four straight seasons, winning in 2008 while coaching the Cleveland City Stars to the USL third division title.

A former midfielder, Rennie's playing career was cut short by a knee injury. He obtained his UEFA 'A' coaching license at age 26.

There was speculation Rennie was one of the candidates for the head coaching job with the Montreal Impact, who will join MLS next year.

The Impact is expected to name its coach for next season Wednesday.

The Whitecaps' next game is against D.C. United in Washington on Saturday night.