Nigel Reo-Coker makes a strong move to the edge of the box before feeding Pedro Morales for some late-second half insurance. The Caps won 4-1 over the defending Supporters Shield champ New York Red Bulls. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Whitecaps Wednesday – Musings On The State Of The League

As many of you know, I’m a member of the Vancouver Southsiders’ Board of Directors. As Director of External Communications, I’m responsible for responding to media requests we receive. Last week, I got an email from a young, aspiring journalist who was looking for a supporter’s perspective on the current state of the league.  Continue reading

I hate running. Hate it. Like, with all my soul.

20 klicks ahead of schedule

It started, last year, almost as a lark. Running, that is. I’ve already cursed the good doctor Rob as loud as I can, but I have to admit: I’m not hating every minute of it. The Central Valley Greenway is actually quite pleasant (when it’s not so flooded that ducks take to its surface, that is), and I’ve found the few times I’ve taken to circuitous routes (short city routes or even 400-metre tracks under lighting) much more calming for the repetition than I had predicted.

So here’s the public presentation of my goal. It ain’t much in the grand scheme of things; some people do ultras, and others travel the world entering multiple marathons and raising outrageous amounts of money for charity. Me, I’ve just challenged myself to run 1,000 km during the 2014 calendar year.

My running goal is to complete 1,000km during the 2014 calendar year. I'm 20km ahead of schedule as of St Paddy's Day.

My running goal is to complete 1,000km during the 2014 calendar year. I’m 20km ahead of schedule as of St Paddy’s Day.

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Goats ‘N’ Prose – Whitecaps FC VS Chivas USA

After an impressive season opener last Saturday, the Whitecaps will look to continue their strong play in California tomorrow. They’ll take on a Chivas USA team that also turned some heads in their 3-2 victory last weekend. In fact, these two teams have a little more in common than simply opening the season with wins.WhitecapsLogo300

The USA Goats, much like the Caps, have undergone an off-season of change. Both clubs promoted MLS assistant coaches to manage their teams – Chivas found their man in former Colorado Rapids assistant Wilmer Cabrera. Vancouver’s hire of Carl Robinson has already been well documented in this town.

Carl Robinson focused on retooling the Caps midfield to encourage forward movement from the middle of the park. Chivas recruited playmaker Mauro Rosales, formerly of the Seattle Sounders, to solidify their midfield.

The Whitecaps newcomers, Seba Fernandez and Pedro Morales (amongst others) both had stunning debuts for their club, as did Rosales. He assisted on Chivas’ second and third goals versus the Chicago Fire to secure the win. You say Morales, I say Rosales, let’s call the whole thing off. Continue reading

Eddie Lack may be giving himself the evil eye in the mirror this morning, but chances are new Canucks backup goaltender Jacob Markstrom is eyeing him and his crease even more closely. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

It’s going to be a loooooooong summer

Whatever playoff aspirations still existed in the Vancouver Canucks dressing room — misguided, maybe, but they were there — must have taken a serious thumping during the third period of last night’s 7-4 loss to the lowly, John Tavares-less New York Islanders.

Up 3-0 going into the final 20 minutes of the game, the Canucks managed to give up a converted touchdown in a single period for the first time since a kid named Wayne Gretzky swaggered into Vancouver with the dynastic Edmonton Oilers. And, as Ryan Kesler said of the present-day Islanders after the game, “let’s face it, [New York] is not one of the top teams in the NHL. We had a three-nothing lead to start the third. This just can’t happen.”

Sadly, not only can it go down, Mr Kesler, but it did happen.  On home ice. During the stretch run. Less than a week after the GM traded away a future Hall of Fame goaltender.

Eddie Lack may be giving himself the evil eye in the mirror this morning, but chances are new Canucks backup goaltender Jacob Markstrom is eyeing him and his crease even more closely. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Eddie Lack may be giving himself the evil eye in the mirror this morning, but chances are new Canucks backup goaltender Jacob Markstrom is eyeing him and his crease even more closely. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

In the first two periods, the Isles had just nine shots on goal. Fast forward twenty minutes, and they had nearly that many goals.

Sure, there were positives. Henrik Sedin got a lucky bounce off an Islander defenceman — lucky bounces have been few and far between for the Canucks of late, but it marked the first goal in 23 games for the captain. Alex Burrows didn’t get off the gorilla-choking, gut-twisting schneid he’s been riding all season, but he did get awarded an apple on Ryan Kesler’s 22nd goal of the year. Replays show Burrows gave a swing and a miss when Kevin Bieksa’s shot from the slot pinged off the post, but when Kesler put it home, the scorekeepers gave Burr the phantom assist for his 300th career NHL point.

But let’s not kid anyone. There are no moral victories in a game that goes that far south that quickly. Less than five minutes of gutless, idiot play in the third period undid 40 minutes of solid two-way hockey. Dumb penalties from Jensen, Bieksa and Sestito translated into a tie game within minutes of the third period puck drop. Add a couple that Lack would like to have back, and the Isles put a pick-six on the board before the third was halfway done.

The Canucks collapse, though, wasn’t half as scary as what awaited Eddie Lack in the dressing room.

ZOMBIE GALLAGHER!!! SAVE YOURSELF!!!

Photo Gallery – Vancouver Whitecaps 4, New York Red Bulls 1

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC defeated the New York Red Bulls 4–1 on opening day of the 2014 MLS season, marking the 13th consecutive year — and fourth MLS season — that Vancouver has won their home opener.

Kenny Miller scored twice wearing the captain’s armband, while newcomers Pedro Morales and Sebastián Fernández hit the back of the net in spectacular fashion.

The Red Bulls’ only marker came in stoppage time at the end of the match, as keeper David Ousted was left alone to fend for a long cross — he misjudged his punch, and late substitution Bradley Wright-Phillips took full advantage with a cagey header.

Here are my pics from the match — please forgive what Russell The Soccer Poet Arbuthnot calls “slim pickings”. I have to admit, I’m a little rusty at pitch side after a long off-season!

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Whitecaps FC – First Kick 2014

Phew. That was exciting, wasn’t it? If Saturday was any indication, Carl Robinson’s version WhitecapsLogo300of the Whitecaps will be something to keep your eyes on. The team knocked out a 4-1 win over the Henry-less New York Red Bulls in what seemed like somewhat of a cakewalk.

Granted, the Red Bulls were not playing with their full complement of personnel, but I’m not convinced the outcome would have been any different regardless of rosters. Almost everything went right for the Whitecaps, who have now won all four season openers since entering MLS in 2011.

It was a dream start for the new head coach, who watched his squad outplay their opponents in all aspects of the match. The real story though, was how the Whitecaps’ overhauled midfield controlled the game from the opening kick-off. New recruits Matias Laba, Sebastian Fernandez and Pedro Morales (in limited minutes) looked positively brilliant.

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Kickoff 2014 – Whitecaps VS Red Bulls

The dawn of a new MLS season is upon us and the anticipation surrounding Vancouver’s squad is positively palpable. A new look Whitecaps team, featuring a handful of new arrivals and a new manager, opens their season this Saturday at BC Place stadium against the New York Red Bulls.

In response to Kenny Miller's brace of goals, Hervé (@1stLineCentre) leads the Southsiders in a stirring rendition of Ludvig van Beethoven's adaptation of Freidrich Schiller's poem, Ode to Joy. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Southsiders will be back at BC Place stadium when the Whitecaps 2014 season kicks off Saturday, March 7. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The defending Supporter’s Shield winners from New York, largely unchanged from 2013, feature a stable of talented forwards and a steady backline. Although, it appears that Thierry Henry may once again sit this one out as his tender French footsies cannot handle the tough turf at BC Place. He has yet to play a game in Vancouver. Shameful.

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The Cascadia Cup looks upon BC Place, its home for the 2014 MLS season, after Whitecaps FC won the trophy for consistent performance up and down the northwest corridor last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Bienvenue, monsieur Henry

WhitecapsLogo300I was challenged by Whitecaps FC physiotherapist Graeme Poole to Take a Bite out of the Big Apple in a #CapsNomination earlier this week. Needless to say, instead of putting together a half-arsed, iPhone filmed response tout de suite, I took four days to mine the interweb for cheesy sound effects and put together a half-arsed, iPhone-filmed response. FX make all the difference, don’t you think?

The Caps take on Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls at 4:30 on Saturday March 8 in their 2014 season opener. As of the writing of this post, there were fewer than a thousand tickets left.

Remember, Whitecaps FC go into the 2014 season with a substantially retooled roster — gone are the underperforming Daigo Kobayashi and the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ traitor Camilo, and in are promising attacking midfielders Matías Laba and Pedro Morales. There are numerous young players looking to stamp their cleats upon this team, and it’s new bench boss Carl Robinson‘s job to get them on the pitch a little more often than his predecessor did.

All the while, this team is looking to defend its fourth Cascadia Cup (more on that here from the ever-eloquent Chris Withers), and challenge for its first-ever Canadian Championship trophy against a massively restocked Toronto FC side (soccer poet Russell Arbuthnot is on tap for some of this action).

The Cascadia Cup looks upon BC Place, its home for the 2014 MLS season, after Whitecaps FC won the trophy for consistent performance up and down the northwest corridor last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Cascadia Cup looks upon BC Place, its home for the 2014 MLS season, after Whitecaps FC won the trophy for consistent performance up and down the northwest corridor last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Cascadia Cup wears Whitecaps FC, Southsiders and Rain City Brigade scarves (and a Curva Collective shirt for good measure) as it looks over Vancouver, its home for the 2014 MLS season, from a piece of prime Stanley Park Seawall real estate. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

A Day With The Cup

The Cascadia Cup looks upon BC Place, its home for the 2014 MLS season, after Whitecaps FC won the trophy for consistent performance up and down the northwest corridor last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Cascadia Cup looks upon BC Place, its home for the 2014 MLS season, after Whitecaps FC won the trophy for consistent performance up and down the northwest corridor last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

One of the great traditions in all of sport is the NHL’s day with the Cup. After the Stanley Cup is won, each member of the winning team is granted one day to take Lord Stanley’s Mug wherever they choose. Want to have an ice cream party with the kids? Doug Weight did. Rather take it to a peeler bar with the lads? Messier beat you there. Here in Cascadia, we’re working on some traditions of our own surrounding the Cascadia Cup. This Cup, however, was created by fans, and it’s the fans that can request a day with it.

The Cascadia Cup is entering its eleventh season and currently makes its home right here in beautiful British Columbia. Contested by the three Cascadian clubs – the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers – the Cup was purchased in 2004 by the supporters groups of those three teams and is awarded annually to the best team in the region. Vancouver’s nine points in Cascadia derbies (2W-1L-3D) was good enough to secure them their fourth Cascadia Cup victory. (Seattle and Portland, those suckers, are still stuck on three apiece.)

The Cascadia Cup wears Whitecaps FC, Southsiders and Rain City Brigade scarves (and a Curva Collective shirt for good measure) as it looks over Vancouver, its home for the 2014 MLS season, from a piece of prime Stanley Park Seawall real estate. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Cascadia Cup wears Whitecaps FC, Southsiders and Rain City Brigade scarves (and a Curva Collective shirt for good measure) as it looks over Vancouver, its home for the 2014 MLS season, from a piece of prime Stanley Park Seawall real estate. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Unlike most championship trophies, the fans are the keepers of the Cascadia Cup. If the Cup changes hands, representatives of the reigning champions’ supporters groups must turn it over to the winning team’s supporters, who then present the trophy to the team. After that, the supporter groups look after it, bringing it out for Cascadia games to rub in the faces of opposition supporters.

Pucked in the Head’s day with the Cup was a simple excursion through our fair city. We started at False Creek and wound our way through the downtown core to Stanley Park. It was a chance to get some great photos of the Cup, and show off some of the best of what Vancouver has to offer on a gorgeous winter day.

(A big thanks to the Curva Collective’s Zachary Meisenheimer, one of the Whitecaps FC supporters present for the handoff in Portland last season, for joining us, driving round the city, and tying those scarves & shirt so darned nicely for the pics!)

If you have an event that you want the Cup to be present for, get in touch with the Vancouver Southsiders at www.vancouversouthsiders.ca.

Between his amateurish YouTube video and this picture, Jason Kurylo has shed even the appearance of journalistic integrity. Oh well, what were you expecting from a fanboy blogger, anyway? Photo by Zach Meisenheimer for Pucked in the Head.

Between his amateurish YouTube video and this picture, Jason Kurylo has shed even the appearance of journalistic integrity. Oh well, what were you expecting from a fanboy blogger, anyway? Photo by Zach Meisenheimer for Pucked in the Head.

Luongone

Adios, Strombone1. We barely knew ya.

Adios, @strombone1. We barely knew ya.

If you’re a regular visitor to Pucked in the Head, you know I’ve been pumping Roberto Luongo’s tires since day one. The very day the Canucks acquired him from the Florida Panthers, the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh my god. We’re going to win a Cup.”

Nearly a decade later, Bobby Lu owns nearly every franchise record a Canucks goaltender can own. He’s second to only Martin Brodeur among active goalies for most career wins (367), shutouts (65) and shots against (>23K), and third in games played (789). Sadly, that Stanley Cup didn’t quite happen, but he did win a gold medal on Rogers Arena ice. That counts, right? RIGHT?!?!

Mike Gillis had me in his corner through the start of his tenure. I thought he was a masterful tinkerer, bringing in just the right bits and pieces to win consecutive Presidents Trophies, Art Ross Trophies and outstanding hockey. It was a stellar ride, even if the very pinnacle of achievement also included consecutive bed-poopings with that Cup just a win away. But MG has screwed up one time too many for my liking.

People Mike Gillis screwed after the jump:

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