Category Archives: Soccer

The Top 5 of 2015 – Escape From L.A.

Whitecaps Wednesday

With lots of Whitecaps rumours and news this week surrounding the acquisition of Blas Pérez and departure of Mauro Rosales, I briefly considered suspending the Top 5 of 2015 series for one week. But then my pal and yours, Jason, tossed up his own review of said happenings and generously added in my own take as a footnote to boot. Perfect. Perhaps, at a later date, I will expunge my feelings on that subject further, but for now, let us forge ahead with the Top 5 countdown and review the Silver medal match of 2015.

Entries five, four and three were certainly delicious, but the top two spots are rich in nutritional value and high in fibre while being even scrummier and more fulfilling than the previous three. On June 6, 2015, the Whitecaps sailed into the most hostile of territories and managed to achieve a remarkable feat on both a micro and macro level.

Continue reading The Top 5 of 2015 – Escape From L.A.

Super Rat is now a super Cap

Say what you will, but you can’t complain that the Whitecaps have been idle this off-season. After acquiring Japanese striker Masato Kudo and Costa Rican midfielder Christian Bolaños, the Caps went out and landed… Blas Pérez?!?!?

The man people love to hate is on his way to Tuscon to suit up for the blue and white in some early pre-season matches. In case you don’t remember, this is the guy who elbowed Jordan Harvey in the head, drew fouls on Kendall Waston with blatant dives, and got under the skin of Pa Madou Kah. Still not convinced? His twitter handle is @superraton7, for crying out loud — that’s just Spanish for, you guessed it, Super Rat 7.

Blas Perez, now a member of Whitecaps FC, fires a left footer past Steven Beitashour, who is not. Outdated photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Blas Pérez, now a member of Whitecaps FC, fires a left footer past Steven Beitashour, who is not. Outdated photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Pérez inspires, shall we say, extreme reactions:

For

Against

The fact is, Blas Pérez has scored at a respectable clip during his MLS tenure, netting 37 goals in 103 appearances for FC Dallas. Yes, he is renowned for diving, and for no shortage of dirty play in tight against defenders, but advantages threefold exist in having him in Whitecaps colours:

1) If he’s not scoring against the Whitecaps, which he has been known to do, maybe, just maybe he’ll be scoring for them. David Ousted, for one, will be mighty happy to hear that.

2) Carl Robinson doesn’t go in for simulation, and no doubt will do his best to limit the bullshit.

3) Who’s to say the Whitecaps might just need a little side of nasty on the roster now and again. Waston can’t get all the yellow cards, can he?

Love him or hate him — and there are plenty of people who do the latter round these parts — the addition of Blas Pérez makes the Whitecaps a better team. Who knows, if we see the goat horns ten or fifteen times this season, maybe even the Southsiders might come around and like Super Rat.

In closing, let me quote soccer poet Russell Arbuthnot:

“If nothing else, [the addition of] Pérez signifies the end of the Darren Mattocks experiment, which is a good enough return for me.”

The Top 5 of 2015 – The Galaxy Over

Whitecaps Wednesday

After getting entries four and five out of the way, we’ve officially reached the podium positions in our Top 5 of 2015 game review series. It only seems fitting as anticipation for the 2016 season mounts with the Caps having arrived back in town for training camp. And what better way to celebrate than by sitting down with a frosty brew (might I suggest a Four Winds Pale Ale?*), taking a load off and wasting some time reading Pucked in the Head while those players bust their asses running laps and submitting themselves to arduous fitness testing? In case you need some more time to finish your drink, catch up on our previous installments – you can find entry 5 here, and entry 4 here.

Now, without further ado, in the Bronze medal spot we take a peek back to the happenings at BC place on April 4, 2015 – just the fifth game of the young season for the Whitecaps. The match was a significant one for the team because of the opponent, because of the result and because of the method in which they delivered that result.

Continue reading The Top 5 of 2015 – The Galaxy Over

The Top 5 of 2015 – Kansas City Rollercoaster

Whitecaps Wednesday

As we creep ever closer to the opening of the 2016 MLS season (you can take a look at the Whitecaps full schedule here), PITHites are being subjected to a peek back at what I deem to be the top five Caps games of 2015.  It’s kind of like one of those cobbled-together “Year in Review” we see frequently and repeatedly throughout the holiday season, except this isn’t nearly as long and contains less upper-management-sanctioned “witty banter.”  This is week two of our little experiment here so, naturally, that means that up for review this week is entry number four on our list of five.

I should clarify that the criterion for games being on this list extends beyond good feels and positivity, as evidenced by this selection.  We’re going to travel back to August 15, 2015 and look at a game that, to me, imitated the Whitecaps’ entire season in a thorough 90-minute display of hope, potential, success, decline and ultimately, failure.

Continue reading The Top 5 of 2015 – Kansas City Rollercoaster

The Top 5 of 2015 – Muting Seattle

Whitecaps Wednesday

There’s nothing like an extended break to emphasize just how vital our journalisming is to people the World over. Countless emails, telegrams and letters flooded the PITH offices, pleading for our glorificous return to the keyboards and demanding more content. I replied to a couple of them, asking them to remain patient while I worked on developing a whole new lexicon of words like “journalisming” and “glorificous” and only upon its completion would we be able to rebegin to unleash our brand of ridiculous bullshit in written form to the masses.

I’m pleased to report that that time has arrived. The first (soccer-related) post of 2016 belongs to me and, although it be brief, it is time to take a look at the Whitecaps’ top 5 games (as decided by me) from the 2015 season. We’ll kick off this new endeavour by rehashing the happenings of August 1, 2015 when the Whitecaps dispatched the ol’ Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field in dominating fashion thanks to an unlikely hero.

Continue reading The Top 5 of 2015 – Muting Seattle

Whitecaps Play For Nil-Nil, Get Their Wish

The Whitecaps began their third MLS playoff campaign on Sunday afternoon six hours down the I-5 in rainy Portland, Oregon. Hopes were high among Vancouver supporters. The club had just scored multiple goals in a game for the first time in nearly two months, some of their injured players were rumoured to be available, and they’d got the matchup that looked the best, on paper, after the Timbers eliminated Sporting Kansas City in one of the most entertaining penalty kick contests you will ever see.  Then the game started, and the offence was once again maddeningly anemic. Continue reading Whitecaps Play For Nil-Nil, Get Their Wish

Ode to the 2015 Whitecaps, by Russell Arbuthnot

Tim Parker, the ginger muse of soccer poet Russell Arbuthnot. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Tim Parker, the ginger muse of soccer poet Russell Arbuthnot. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

As we count down the minutes to the Vancouver Whitecaps first-ever home playoff date — the back end of a home-and-home tie versus the dirty, rotten, stinkin’, bearded Portland Timbers that starts tomorrow — poet in residence Russell Arbuthnot offers up his quill to the soccer gods with the six stanzas below. We at Pucked in the Head wholly endorse the product of Russell’s sleepless enthusiasm, but claim no responsibility for questionable grammar, rhyme scheme or metre therein.

End of Season
by Russell Arbuthnot

With the regular season laid down to rest
And with the playoffs drawing ever near
The Whitecaps found themselves among the league’s best
Reflecting on one helluva year

We waved goodbye to the Cascadia Cup
And welcomed in that of the Voyageurs
Coach Robbo patch-worked his CONCACAF lineups
Delicately navigating fixtures

Displaced in June by a Worldly tournament
Meant the men wearing Whitecaps blue and white
Lived in hotels for what seemed like permanent
But they fared quite well in the six-week fight

A rookie named Parker came out of the blue
And from Waston an MVP season
Ousted and Techera were essential too
Expectations mounting, with good reason

Injuries mounted, the infirmary filled
With bumbles and stumbles down the homestretch
Hope and belief grew increasingly chilled
The faithful grew restless, began to kvetch

The franchise regrouped, dispatched the Dynamo
Earned a bye straight to the semifinals
One more week to patch up Captain Pedro
And a chance to knock off their fiercest rivals

Playoffs Clinched, Midfield Pinched

As we sat on Saturday night watching the Whitecaps piss another one away, Jason and I got to talking. He imparted upon me that he felt the Whitecaps recent string of poor performance was simply the manifestation of their historical tendency to eat shit through the summer. Only this time, a deeper roster and improved coaching had helped keep the swoon at bay, however the shit eating was nevertheless inevitable.

Jordan Harvey prepares to lay down a sweet one-touch pass to Christian Techera. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Jordan Harvey celebrated the birth of his first child on early Wednesday morning before playing a full 90 versus FC Dallas. Congratulations Jordan & Kimberly and welcome to the world Harlow! Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

He may be right. But if this were a multiple choice exam curated by one of my current professors, he’d actually be wrong because there is no “correct” answer anymore, just the “best answer.” Hey, maybe we should try educating students, rather than deceiving them? Just a suggestion. Anyways, I digress. Read on as I fill in Jason’s holes. In his theory, I mean. You sicko.

Continue reading Playoffs Clinched, Midfield Pinched

“Seattle Princesses” win Cascadia Cup

It was a disappointing day by many standards. The Vancouver Whitecaps, sitting atop the MLS standings, hosted the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Seattle Sounders. A win would mean a third straight Cascadia Cup for the Caps, and put a dagger in Seattle’s  attempt to revive a lacklustre season.

Capo Warren Bowden. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Warren Bowden shows his Cascadia pride prior to a Whitecaps FC loss to Seattle Sounders FC. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Instead, the boys in green and blue beat the Whitecaps at their own game: they sat back and let Vancouver come at them, and waited patiently for opportunities to come on the counterattack. At the end of the day, the Whitecaps are still the class of the Western Conference and sit tied for top spot in MLS — thank you, woeful Real Salt Lake for pummelling the LA Galaxy when we least expected it.

Classy move by the Sounders, honouring injured Román Torres with a banner in front of the starting XI. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Classy move by the Sounders, honouring injured Román Torres with a banner in front of the starting XI. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The season series between Seattle and Vancouver has seen home teams struggle. The Sounders won 2-0 here back in May, and the Caps put in one of their most complete games at Century Link with a 3-0 victory on August 1. The latter was a low point in the Sounders season, with coaches and players sniping at each other after the fact for poor preparation and effort levels, respectively.

Russell Teibert keeps a close eye on Obafemi Martins during MLS action at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Russell Teibert keeps a close eye on Obafemi Martins during MLS action at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Saturday offered a much more balanced game, but it was Seattle who took advantage of their chances. Octavio Rivero had several opportunities early in the first half, including a glorious clean shot at goal from ten metres, but put the ball high and wide every time. Every other shot toward Stefan Frei was pretty much a gift to the Swiss-born keeper. (I can think of perhaps two saves that required him to actually move.)

Andreas Ivanschitz and Jordan Smith battle for a ball. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Psssst, Ivanschitz… I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to punch dudes on the pitch. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Then, seconds before the halftime whistle, Obafemi Martins dribbled away from four white jerseys and put a perfect aerial pass on the foot of striker Andreas Ivanschitz, who had snuck in behind rookie defender Jordan Smith. The  German with rather predictable sophomoric nicknames slotted the ball neatly behind David Ousted to open the Sounders account on the evening.

Kekuta Manneh was kept remarkably quiet during a 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Kekuta Manneh was kept remarkably quiet during a 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Caps pushed for the equalizer throughout the second half, but that opened them up to yet more fast breaks the other way. The Sounders waited for their chances, then buried them. Love him or hate him, Clint Dempsey is one hell of a player when he keeps his head about him. Yes, he spends an inordinate amount of time whining to referees — more on these antics below — but he also spent this entire game feathering one-touch balls and delicate passes to his mates, giving the Whitecaps midfield fits at times and directly resulting in two of the Sounders goals. He fed Gonzalo Pineda with a lovely pass at the lip of the box, and Pineda put a perfect shot off the post and in to double the lead in the 71st minute. Sixteen minutes later, Dempsey outhustled Cristian Techera — yes, you read that right, he outran the Bug — before sliding a gimme to Martins for the 3-nil scoreline.

Andreas Ivanschitz pushed at Jordan Smith all game, and wound up opening the scoring. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Andreas Ivanschitz pushed at Jordan Smith all game, and wound up opening the scoring. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

For many, however, the biggest disappointment didn’t happen on the field of play at all. Longtime season ticket holder Christy Clark created quite a stir on our local corner of the interweb, as she tried to poke fun at the Flounders’ proclivity for lying on the BC Place turf nursing non-existent injuries. Sadly, her old-timey insistence upon using girly references to insult male athletes kinda backfired.

Tweet from @christyclarkbc.
Anti-bullying crusader and BC premier Christy Clark tries to insult the Seattle Sounders by calling them princesses. Quality humour there.

Did the Sounders spend a lot of time with their butts glued to the turf? Yeah, sure they did. Were fans rankled and riled about it? You bet your Southsiders scarf they were. Does that make it okay to throw sexist jabs around in a public forum, when you’re an elected official, and to boot a role model to women interested in entering politics? Absolutely fricking not.

The Seattle Sounders clinched their fourth Cascadia Cup with a 3-0 win at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Clint Dempsey spent as much time on his keister as he did on his feet, but he still managed to set up two goals for the Sounders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The BC Premier is no stranger to social media firestorms. She has nearly 51,000 followers on Twitter, and she upsets a great number of them with even the blandest of posts. In this case, however, folks really ought to get their hackles up. Clark is a self-professed champion of the anti-bullying movement — she helped to spearhead BC’s involvement in Pink Shirt Day a few years ago, and continues to make public comments that pooh-pooh language, actions and systems that belittle or exclude portions of the populace.

Members of the Southsiders, Rain City Brigade and Curva Collective supporters groups all actively dissuade neanderthal members of their groups who denigrate women. Even five years ago, chants of “SHE FELL OVER” were commonplace when an opposing player hit the pitch. These days, references to gender and/or sexual orientation just aren’t accepted any longer by BC Place supporter groups. (Note: Sadly, sexism is still rampant in the football world. The comments screamed at Chelsea medical staffer Eva Carneiro by opposing clubs have been atrocious. The Vancouver Canucks, and women’s rights groups for that matter, have put up with dolts calling Henrik and Daniel “the Sedin sisters” from day one. Hell, the NHL even made an ad that featured Hank & Dank showing up for a fan’s stag party as twin Swedish dancers

. Ice girls at men’s games are the embarrassing norm, when teams should be putting resources into setting up a serious women’s pro league. The sad fact is, loads of sports fans turn their noses up at the prospect of watching professional women’s sports — the Women’s World Cup drew fans, but YVR is still without a women’s Whitecaps team. At least in Vancouver, widespread homophobic or misogynistic jeers aren’t the norm. Clark’s tweet is harmless on the face of it, but flies in the face of very anti-bullying campaign she claims to honour.)

Slap-A-Cap or How To Keep Your Pants Up

I always thought suspenders were used to hold your pants up, to provide you with a feeling of security while letting the world know that:

  1. you have lost weight;
  2. you don’t know how to purchase appropriately-sized pants for yourself;
  3. you accessorize to appear unique.

Suspenders are a worthy yet unceremoniously goofy alternative to a belt that some, usually the over-80 demographic, still choose to employ, presumably because belts and sized waistbands hadn’t yet been invented when these people started dressing themselves. Suspenders are supposed to, you know, help.

lithgow_suspenders_72dpi
John Lithgow is the epitome of style and grace. Photo found on google.

In professional soccer, however, suspenders are quite different. They don’t protect you. They don’t offer you security. Their purpose is to expose you, to strip you bare and leave you hanging.

The MLS suspenders left Carl Robinson and his squad unsheathed after a pair of red cards sent Matías Laba and Kendall Waston to the showers early last weekend.

Continue reading Slap-A-Cap or How To Keep Your Pants Up