Blame him if you want to, but Jason Kurylo was not in the starting eleven against Real Salt Lake. Hell, he wasn’t even in the building on Saturday.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC pulled off a stunning piece of PR on Friday, inviting nearly 50 local media personalities to compete in an afternoon of friendly competition. The club set everyone up with their own stall in the dressing room, dressed them in a full team kit, then put them through pre-game warmups before three 25-minute matches on the BC Place turf.
Somehow we managed to get on the list — although Chris’s game report today may put that status in jeopardy for next year. Soccer poet Russell Arbuthnot and Yours Truly donned the blue and white to represent the mighty Pucked in the Head, both playing on a squad led by former Team Canada captain Jason Devos. We didn’t do too badly, either. Russell scored a couple of highlight goals, while I made weekend warriors look like a goaltending god on four separate occasions. (Sure, I’d like to have tiptoed around a couple of defenders and slotted a cheeky left footer under Peter Schad’s outstretched arm, but I’m mostly just happy my recent spate of exercise kept me from having to spend the afternoon wheezing and retching. It’s amazing what eight weeks of training will do for a body.)
Highlights? In the first of three games, I put a 25-yard cross onto the head of our team captain just a few feet from the goal line — may I remind you that this is the same Jason Devos who scored the game-winner to secure Canada’s only Gold Cup crown in men’s soccer history? — but the big man got submarined by some morning newspaper hack, and wasn’t able to put the ball in the back of the net.
I did score once, on a beautiful give-and-go with Whitecaps staffer Ann Nikitiuk. She gave me the ball pretty much on the goal line, so there was no chance to mess it up. Still, I’ll take it and fill out my top three moments with the time I put the ball through Martin Rennie’s legs to go round the bench boss on my way up the right flank in game #2.
But oh yeah, the Whitecaps.
One week after a convincing 3-nil road win in Montreal, the Whitecaps were looking to carry some good karma forward; the mood at BC Place Friday suggested they were doing just that. Rarely have sports media in a city been so unanimously positive as they were this day, as everyone taking part had a flipping blast. Team Sulkowski won the trophy with an undefeated record, while we on Team Devos brought home a hardfought 1-1-1 record.
For duffers like me, it was gut check time during the first annual Whitecaps Media Challenge on Friday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the positive juju didn’t last, as the club was unable to muster much against a squad of Real Salt Lake reserves. The 1-nil loss Saturday afternoon was just their third home loss of the year, but it all but guarantees Vancouver will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
To make matters worse, during the loss, TSN ran a clip of me looking desperately out of position as a right defensive back — and that yellow pinny during game time doesn’t let me hide what’s left of my gut. I swear, I’ve lost 10 kilos and it’s still a work in progress! Jeez, you people are harsh.
More after the jump.