Tag Archives: BC Place

Photo gallery: Whitecaps FC 2 Crystal Palace FC 2

In mid-July, the Whitecaps hosted some jokers from a place called London, England — seriously, what kind of name for a football squad is Crystal Palace? Anyway, they tied the friendly 2-2,  in a game that wasn’t particularly exciting sport but gave locals a chance to see some Premier League footballers up close and personal.

Here’s a gallery of my best pics from the match. Enjoy.

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“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.)

Bedwetters no longer

After years of finding new and shocking ways to lose the Canadian Championship, the Vancouver Whitecaps played a statement game in the second leg of the 2015 final, and — finally — won the damned thing.

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their first-ever Amway Canadian Championship with a 2-nil victory over the Montreal Impact at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their first-ever Amway Canadian Championship with a 2-nil victory over the Montreal Impact at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

No penalty kicks, no extra time, no aggregate gaffes, no games halted for bad weather. Just solid play from first and second squad players alike.

Octavio Rivero opened the scoring midway through the first half when he got his foot on a ball that Cristian Techera had already rolled to the very goal line. It was his first goal from the run of play since Middle Earth was a relevant pop culture reference, and turned out to be the tournament-winning goal. It seems only fair; if Techera hadn’t back heeled that wonderful ball from Kekuta Manneh against FC Dallas just four days ago, it would have landed at Rivero’s feet in that exact same spot. Tit for tat, I always say.

Tim Parker headed home a Pedro Morales corner in the second half to double the lead. Given the team’s collapse in Montreal a fortnight earlier — when a late 2-nil scoreline became a 2-2 draw in mere minutes — many of the 19,000-plus fans at BC Place were more nervous up by a brace than they had been when the lead was just one. However, between Parker and Kendall Waston, backed up by a committed David Ousted, two goals was more than enough to seal the deal this time round.

Tim Parker celebrates with Pedro Morales after scoring an insurance goal. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their first-ever Amway Canadian Championship with a 2-nil victory over the Montreal Impact at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Tim Parker celebrates with Pedro Morales after scoring an insurance goal. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their first-ever Amway Canadian Championship with a 2-nil victory over the Montreal Impact at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The fact is, the Whitecaps have now shrugged off just about every minor monkey that’s been riding their shoulders since joining MLS. First it was earning points against stronger teams — the LA Galaxy, Sporting KC, DC United. Then it was getting some individual hardware, like a Golden Boot and a Newcomer of the Year award. Then it was winning against those powerhouses on the road. They’ve won back-to-back Cascadia Cups, and are a win away from making it a threepeat. With the Canadian Championship in their pocket, this year’s somewhat backwards entry into the CONCACAF Champions League no longer needs an asterisk.

Each of these accomplishments are huge steps for a franchise to take. None of them should be sneezed at, nor belittled. Every single one of these players deserves to cherish that medal, and kiss that Canadian Championship trophy as long as they care to pucker.

But now that these smaller firsts have been taken care of, the Whitecaps can set their sights on bigger fish.

These Whitecaps aren’t just the best in Canada this season. They’re among the best in the league. A Supporters’ Shield is no pipe dream — it’s a distinct possibility. With eight games remaining, the Caps have the number one points-per-game ratio in MLS. Playoff success isn’t just a pipe dream; it’s expected.

David Ousted should win Goalkeeper of the Year, if the June Player of the Month award and four Save of the Week honours mean anything. Kendall Waston ought to be in the conversation for Defender of the Year, if for no other reason than because he’s too big to ignore. And if Carl Robinson isn’t nominated for Coach of the Year, there’s something downright fishy going on.

Dare we say it, even the MLS Cup is a distinct possibility. Okay, that’s perhaps reaching, and the LA Galaxy will make life in the playoffs more difficult than a Silviu Petrescu disciplinary hearing. But hey, the Caps have beaten the Galaxy outright twice this season, once here and once in LA. Handily.

The rest of the season is going to be verrrrrry interesting. Pick your dance partners, folks, because this party is just getting started.

Countrymen Carl Robinson and Robert Earnshaw walk the length of the pitch draped in the Welsh flag after the Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their first-ever Amway Canadian Championship with a 2-nil victory over the Montreal Impact at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Countrymen Carl Robinson and Robert Earnshaw walk the length of the pitch draped in the Welsh flag after the Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their first-ever Amway Canadian Championship with a 2-nil victory over the Montreal Impact at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

 

Seasons of Loss (Or, How to Reference Broadway Theatre in a Football Piece)

Andrew Harris rushed for 118 yards and caught a few passes for 57 yards more, while Manny Arseneaux led the team with 75 yards reception. They combined for three TDs in a 26-23 comeback win over the Edmonton Eskimos. CP photo lifted from the Province Sports website.
Andrew Harris rushed for 118 yards and caught a few passes for 57 yards more, while Manny Arceneaux led the team with 75 yards reception. They combined for three TDs in a 26-23 comeback win over the Edmonton Eskimos, and did so seven minutes after Erin Jeffery & Kid left the building. CP photo lifted from the Province Sports website.

This past Friday I was at the Lions game with the kid. As games go, it wasn’t our best. The defence was kind of sleepy and the offence seemed to be hurling themselves at the Eskimos like lemmings over a cliff.  There were moments of brilliance, but sadly more moments of ‘arrrrrgh’. Sure, Arceneaux scored a spectacular TD, but Jennings got hammered with his short yardage attempt. Harris was dependable, but Lulay just wasn’t finding his receivers. So with seven minutes left, Lions down by five, I looked at my 5 11/12-year-old, our 35-minute ride home, and his 7am wake up the next day and thought, “Well… This game is over… Crazy P has sung… It’s time to head”. The kid was sad, because he wanted to see the Lions win.  His Lions win.  But I made a choice.

Don’t say it. Just. Don’t. Say. It.

Continue reading Seasons of Loss (Or, How to Reference Broadway Theatre in a Football Piece)

Four goals is not enough, say four is not enough

The Vancouver Whitecaps steamrolled a third-string Real Salt Lake team 4-nil on Saturday in what can only be considered an apology for the mutt of a game they put forth in their first-ever Champions League match three days prior.

RSL midfielder John Stertzer says "Bring it on, Kekuta!". Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
RSL midfielder John Stertzer says “Bring it on, Kekuta!”. And bring it on, he did. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Ugh. Memories of that Wednesday Champions League match plague me like large, hulking plague-y things. Both the Caps and Sounders fielded third-string rosters who played uninspired, irresponsible football.

Having RSL field their USL affiliate against the Whitecaps first squad, then, was going to end one of two ways: a close match that had Vancouverites wringing their hands in horror, or a blowout. Thankfully for the local boys, it was the latter.

RSL starting 11 vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 8 August 2015
RSL keeper Jeff Attinella isn’t sure he even recognizes half the guys in this starting XI. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The biggest story isn’t that Octavio Rivero scored his ninth on yet another penalty kick. It’s not that Christian Techera put a brace into the back of the net for his third and fourth goals of the year. It’s not that Jordan Harvey is playing his best soccer just when Christian Dean is showing he’s got game and Sam Adekugbe is rounding into game shape to push him for minutes. It’s not that All-Star keeper David Ousted has the best goals against average in MLS, having allowed just two goals in the last four games and 22 overall this season. It’s not even that Pa Madou Kah scoring his third goal in two games — Pa Madou Frickin’ Kah, my friends, who had only scored once in his previous 58 MLS games.

Christian Techera keeps tabs on RSL defender Olmes Garcia. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Christian Techera keeps tabs on RSL defender Olmes Garcia. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

No, it’s the fact that all of these remarkable storylines are coming together at the same moment. When Rivero hasn’t scored from the run of play since May. With Pedro injured and/or playing so-so football for the majority of the year. When Manneh still hasn’t found a regular groove and Mattocks is still, well, Mattocks. In a season that features a loopy schedule because BC Place hosted the Women’s World Cup. The Vancouver Whitecaps have tied the franchise record of 13 wins this season, and there are 10 games remaining.

This is an exciting time to be a Whitecaps fan. Come on, you blue and white, indeed.

Coach Carl Robinson chants along with the Curva Collective,:"Four goals is not enough, four is not enough!" Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Coach Carl Robinson chants along with the Curva Collective,:”Four goals is not enough, no four is not enough!” Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

You want highlights? You got ’em.

More Cheers, Fewer Beers

Hi, I’m Russell Arbuthnot. You may remember me from such blog postings as “A Rennie Saved is a Rennie Earned” and “Band-Aids and Berber.” Typically, my audience (thanks to both my mom and my editor) is used to reading my cogitations on football, but like, the European kind. Here in North America, the colloquial term for the sport is “soccer”, yet our local “soccer” team denotes itself as a “football club” despite playing in Major League Soccer.

It just so happens that we also have another football club in town, which actually plays what is commonly referred to as football in this here continent. The BC Lions F.C. kicked off the 2015 season this past Friday night, providing the first opportunity for the team and fans alike to experience the purported new and improved atmosphere at BC Place.

These dudes weren't in the conference room — they're available for sale at the front counter, though. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
A general feeling of over-crowding is exactly what the Lions are looking for this season after closing off the upper deck at BC Place.  Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Now, fair reader, you may be asking yourself, “Why is this dolt writing about CFL football?” Good question. Jason asked me to produce a preview for the Whitecaps game versus Kansas City in a limited time frame. Me, being the social butterfly that I am, had committed to a variety of good times the likes of which you would never be invited to, so I just couldn’t make it work. One of these events was the aforementioned Lions home opener, hence the revised assignment request. I was there. I got a free hat. Bonus.

Continue reading More Cheers, Fewer Beers

Canada into the quarters

Most everyone in the media were calling for the Swiss to upset the Canadian national soccer team at the Women’s World Cup. Kudos, then, to the ladies in red, who gutted out a 1-0 win against two of the most dangerous individual threats in the game.

More to come, but here’s a taste:

Josée Belanger of Canada and Caroline Abbé of Switzerland. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Josée Belanger heads the ball past Caroline Abbé in FIFA Women’s World Cup action. Canada advanced to the quarter finals with a 1-0 victory over Switzerland. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

So which team are you cheering for again?

The Americans brought 50,000 of their closest friends to help defeat Nigeria 1-0 at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup.
The Americans brought 50,000 of their closest friends to help defeat Nigeria 1-0 at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Fox Sports is reporting that the game between the United States and Nigeria this week garnered the largest viewing audience of any Women’s World Cup Group Stage match in history, and the third largest of all time. Only the finals in 1999 and 2011 have drawn bigger American television audiences.

The game itself was less than stunning, a statement with which my Pucked in the Head compadre Chris Withers will be happy to concur. With a berth in the knockout rounds almost guaranteed, the US played a conservative, defensive game. They were more content to limit Nigeria’s forward movement than to create any of their own. Consequently, keeper Hope Solo had little to do but wave at her adoring fans and glare at the officials.

Continue reading So which team are you cheering for again?

Episode 64: Hating every minute of it

Pucked in the Head records under the dome of BC Place after a Whitecaps win, and the boys discuss the after effects of Jason’s first-ever full marathon.

The BMO Vancouver Marathon medal is purty. But yeah, totally not worth it. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The BMO Vancouver Marathon medal is purty. But yeah, totally not worth it. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• Recording under the big roof
• 42.2km is a looooong way
• People along the route are quite lovely
• Be quiet or I will cut you
• Anyone want to sponsor a trip to Greece?
• Halfs are the way to go
• How do you spell recovery?
• Watch out, nipples!
• Who’s got two thumbs and ain’t an elite runner?
• BMO Vancouver Marathon route
• Some spectators make a day of it
• Portland, here I come
• Russell says, “Nope, nope, no, nope, nope, no.”
• I Ran (So Far Away) by A Flock of Seagulls

You've gotta be bananas to run a full marathon. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
You’ve gotta be bananas to run a full marathon. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The BMO Vancouver Marathon map. I saw this a full year before the event, and somehow didn't manage to invent an excuse to not run the damned thing.
The BMO Vancouver Marathon map. I saw this a full year before the event, and somehow didn’t manage to invent an excuse to not run the damned thing.

 

Earnshaw scores in debut — again

Robert Earnshaw was on the pitch at BC Place for less than four minutes before he found himself on the receiving end of a brilliant touch pass from El Capitán Pedro Morales. Keeper Adam Kwarasey charged out to challenge, and Earnshaw used his first touch as a Vancouver Whitecap to chip the ball over him  into the back of the net. He celebrated thusly:

Robert Earnshaw celebrates for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Robert Earnshaw celebrates scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC win over the Portland Timbers. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

It wasn’t the first time he’d scored in his first appearance with a team. Earnshaw scored in his first game with the Chicago Fire last year, and potted a pair of goals in his home debut with dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Toronto FC two seasons ago. (It should be noted that Saturday’s game-winner was Earnshaw’s first-ever at BC Place — he was held scoreless in his MLS debut two seasons ago when the Caps blanked Toronto 1-0, a game in which he started and played 85 minutes.)

At 5’8″ and just 160 pounds, he’s not likely to overpower defenders like Nat Borchers or that bloody ginger beard of his. But holy hamhocks, can this guy boot a ball into a soccer net. Earnshaw now has a dozen goals in 32 MLS appearances. That’d be a fair clip for a hockey player, but in soccer, them’s all-star numbers. Don’t just take my word for it; the MLS website, for all its warts and biases, usually gives us stats pretty straight up, and it tells us, “[Earnshaw has recorded] a hat-trick in every professional division in England, including the FA Cup and League Cup competitions as well as internationally for Wales.”

Sam Adekugbe of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Sam Adekugbe jacks up the crowd after Robert Earnshaw’s late go-ahead goal. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

“I knew he’d get one chance,” said Coach Carl Robinson after the match, happy to steal three points in a game where his squad was badly outplayed by the opposition. “I know what Ernie can do, what kind of touch he has with the ball, so I just told him to take the chance when it came. I’m glad he did.”

Chances are the Welshman will do it again. Earnshaw now has 217 goals for clubs in England, Scotland, Israel, the US, and Canada, as well as the Welsh international side.

“It’s always exciting, especially in a debut,” Earnshaw said after the match, saying that even after 18 years of playing professionally, he’s still overwhelmed with emotion when he scores. “The feeling of when the ball hits the net, oh my God, it’s the best. The best.”

Here’s a video for your highlight-watchin’ pleasure: