Saturday in San Jose was the type of game in which a manager can earn his salary. As the Whitecaps rolled into Avaya Stadium, Carl Robinson faced a tough decision: to focus on the league, with a daunting challenge against one of the top teams in North America only three days away, or to play some reserves against the Earthquakes in hopes of taking his shot against Tigres. Robinson opted for the latter, and looked brilliant for twenty-two minutes. Then he faced his second challenge: how to react to an in-game disaster, and abruptly his managerial aptitude was once again being questioned by the Vancouver faithful as Vancouver coughed up a 2-0 lead to fall 3-2 to the San Jose Earthquakes. Continue reading Robinson Lets Caps Be Toppled By Earthquakes – San Jose 3-2 Vancouver
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.
If MLS pundits are to be believed, the 2016 iteration of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC is destined for great things. Our very own Chris Withers, who is actually a betting man and thus should not use the phrase “if I were a betting man” to introduce his prognosticatory prognostications, prognosticated that Vancouver “will win all the things” this season.
Should they win many things? Probably. Manager Carl Robinson has done a masterful job of assembling a deep, talented roster. Will they? If they go on the attack as relentlessly as they did Sunday, quite possibly. This day, though, they died by the sword. The Caps, known for a deadly counterattack last year, carried much of the play on day one, but gave up multiple goals on the break to fall 3-2 to the dreaded Surrender Monkeys from Montreal.
As Carl Robinson said in the post-game presser, “We gifted Montreal these three points, if we’re to give an honest assessment.”
The Vancouver Whitecaps 2015 season was a great story that never quite materialized. If it wasn’t for them goals that never came, they coulda been contenders. Instead of a bunch of bums, which is what they were, let’s face it.
That’s harsh. I know that’s harsh, but I always liked that Brando line, and it was painful to watch a club who was odds-on for the Supporters’ Shield in September sink out of the race and get bounced without so much as a whimper in their first home MLS playoff game. By the hated Portland Timbers, no less. A stellar defence undone by a lack of any consistent offence, and a plague of injuries. Oh, what could have been. Anyways, they’ve fixed all that now, and they’re totally going to win all the trophies this season. End of preview. Continue reading Whitecaps 2016 Season Preview
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) January 29, 2014
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.)
I wanted to be up in North Vancouver this morning, checking out the view from Hollyburn Country Club and shooting media day pictures for the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open Tennis Tournament. Alas, I’m at home nursing a later summer cold and flicking my way through a variety of on demand movie listings.
So here’s my list of Ten sports films you should watch again. I invite your commentary, your judgement and your suggestions. I obviously haven’t given a definitive list here, but let’s be clear: I’ll be damned if anyone makes me sit through Slap Shot ever again. Why so many people like that load of unadulterated shite is just beyond me.
The Whitecaps continue to shine on the road, taking a 1-1 draw out of Portland this weekend. They’ve taken five points off the Timbers in their three-game season series, notching a win at BC Place back in March and two draws at Providence Park in Portland.
Why is this a big deal? I’m glad you asked.
First, because the Caps just cannot freaking score. Between the Whitecaps, the Canadian national teams — both men’s and women’s, thank you very much — and recent editions of the Canucks and Giants, fans in Vancouver are becoming offended with the lack of offensive production.
Okay, besides that? The Caps took a point out of Portland three months back, you say. Well, the Timbers just don’t concede many points at home — in fact, they’ve won five straight since tying that May 2 match against Vancouver. So it’s pretty darned special for the effing dynamite boys in blue and white to scamper back up the I-5 with a couple of points in their back pocket.
Let’s not forget to look at the Western Conference standings. Vancouver sits just two points back of the dirty, rotten, stinkin’, divin’ dogs from FC Dallas, sure, but only three points separate top spot from the sixth place Timbers. Not only did the Caps steal two points out of Providence Park, but they prevented Portland from getting their muddy mitts on the full six points up for grabs, too.
This draw wasn’t a moral victory, either. It wasn’t the lucky 0-0 draw they got back in May. In that match, Darlington Nagbe put a penalty kick off the post and out of play in the 30th minute. Portland carried most of the possession, and probably deserved better for their efforts. Saturday’s match was a different story. Kekuta Manneh could have scored twice himself, but was stopped by keeper Adam Kwarasey on a breakway and, later, by hirsute defender Nat Borchers on a goal-line slide.
Check out the highlights below, I dare ya.
While they’ve been fair to middling at home, the Caps have been bloody road warriors this season. They’ve won away against the Chicago Fire, Orlando FC, Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution, matching a franchise record of six wins away from BC Place in a single season. This, with five away games left in the MLS schedule. Despite scoring just 24 goals in 21 matches overall — an abysmal 1.14 goals per game — Vancouver is the only team in the Major League Soccer with a positive goal differential away from home.
There is a host of theories about Vancouver’s success on the road, most of which discuss the team’s speedy core of strikers being custom built for the counter attack. At BC Place, they just haven’t shown a consistent ability to parse visitors who sit back and defend — they’re much more comfortable letting other teams come at them, then turning the ball over in the midfield and sending their dynamic forwards, well, forward. Are they good at stopping the ball themselves? Sure. Kendall Waston has shut down opposition strikers game in and game out. Tim Parker has shown surprising dexterity and poise on the back line, and Christian Dean in limited play this year has looked solid. David Ousted? Well, he’s been superb this year. Oustanding, you might say.
With the summer transfer window open, fans are hoping Carl Robinson can find another Octavio Rivero to jumpstart some offense. If this team could score with any regularity, they’d in all likelihood be in strong contention for the Supporters’ Shield. As it is, even with an anemic finish, they’re still in the conversation.
Vancouver’s next game is at home on July 26 against the atrocious San Jose Earthquakes. It’s a game they should win, against a non-playoff team. Therefore, expect the Whitecaps to play an uninspired 90 minutes that produces little or no results. What better way to limp into August, a month that sees Vancouver play eight matches in three competitions in just 29 days.
Because we all need, from time to time, to feel like hey, at least we aren’t that guy, Pucked in the Head is pleased to bring you some news from the Oceania region.
The Federated States of Micronesia recently decided, for the first time in their history, to try and qualify for the Olympics in the sport of men’s football. For those unfamiliar with the tiny island nation, it’s, well, tiny. My garden shed is bigger than this country, as the Voyageurs’ chant goes, and I live in an apartment. The country has a total land area smaller than Metro Vancouver and a population base in the neighbourhood of Maple Ridge. The players had in most cases never left their own island prior to the tournament, and in some cases had never played 11-a-side football before. You might expect this qualification attempt to go poorly. You might be correct.
Micronesia, not a member of FIFA, was put into a group with Tahiti (182nd), Fiji (195th) and Vanuatu (200th) at the Pacific Games, an Olympic qualifying tournament. They lost to those teams 0-30, 0-38 and 0-46 respectively. That’s what happens when you use goal differential as a tie breaker. Here are some highlights, if you can bear to watch.
Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny the fact that the American women have dominated women’s soccer for more than 20 years. Their last meaningful loss came at the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, when Japan shocked them with late tying goals in both regulation and extra time, then ultimately won on penalties.
The 2015 team started this tournament in lacklustre fashion, but turned it on in the semis and final game. They struck four times in the first 16 minutes in Vancouver, embarrassing the Japanese defense with intense play and raw will in the box. The fourth goal, which capped a hat trick for midfielder Carli Lloyd, was a cheeky chip shot from centre field, as keeper Ayumi Kaihori was caught well off her line shouting directions at her team when they turned over the ball.
It was an odd performance by the Japanese, who looked uncharacteristically rattled by the raucous US-dominated crowd.
More later, notably when Russell and I chat the Women’s World Cup this upcoming Wednesday on the radio show. Check out CIVL Radio, or the podcast later in the week for that riveting discussion!