For nearly half an hour on Wednesday night it looked as though the Whitecaps would become back-to-back Canadian champions. Vancouver took advantage of a Bradley-less, Irwin-less Toronto FC squad to stake out to a 2-0 lead (2-1 on aggregate) and carried that lead well into stoppage time. A disinterested and detached Giovinco, seen moping around the pitch at BC Place for 90 minutes, didn’t help TFC’s cause much either.
Everything was seemingly coming up Whitecaps. After a rather pedestrian first 45, Carl Robinson subbed in firecracker Nicolás Mezquida at half-time in place of Russell Teibert. The move paid immediate dividends when the Uruguayan scored just two minutes later. Tim Parker pushed the Caps into the pole position after a nifty chest-to-foot volley in the 68th minute found the netting in behind replacement keeper Alex Bono.
Toronto FC has not been a good club over their short stint in MLS. Jermain Defoe was a bloody big bust, and Michael Bradley has delivered more sketchy challenges with cleats up than highlight forays up the field.
The team is reviled around MLS circles. Like most everything in Hogtown, TFC steeps in unfounded confidence — their lack of humility in never having made the post-season is only matched by a complete dearth of on-field results. They’ve got just one win on the season, a lucky opening day win against our own Vancouver Whitecaps that was somewhat marred by Jozy Altidore’s smarmy taunting of the Southsiders (and a certain now-famous bird-flipping photograph that circled the globe).
During last night’s loss to Dallas FC, with the scoreline showing 3-0 against, Michael Bradley took down a Dallas midfielder with a vicious challenge for a yellow card.
Michael Bradley, you flippin’ goon. You’re too talented to make plays like that. #TFC#CleatsUp
But I digress. The purpose of this post is to share a brilliant entry to Toronto’s Banner Challenge. The team asked fans to submit designs for an internet banner; they chose the best ones, tweeted them from their official account, and hosted them on their bloody big website. On April 13, they tweeted this:
Looks great, right? Yep. Until you read the leftmost letters from top to bottom. Turns out a Columbus Crew supporter pulled one over on the TFC marketing chumps, and got them to broadcast their suckitude all over the bloody big internet.
The Whitecaps started their 2015 season off with a bang. And ended their first game with a resounding thud. It was a tale of two halves, at least I think that’s how soccer games work, and on this day, the fans at BC Place saw two entirely different Whitecaps’ teams depending on which 45 you watched.
The first half looked like what we have had been told to expect this season from the blue and white – a fast-paced group, intent on spreading the ball around and utilizing their speed to overwhelm their opponents. The Whitecaps’ attack produced a number of quality chances, yet were only able to capitalize on one of them.
Coach Carl Robinson liked what he saw, but post-game he conceded that perhaps that type of phrenetic pace isn’t one that can be maintained over a full 90 minutes. That, coupled with a tactical change at the break by Toronto head coach Greg Vanney, turned the game upside down and what appeared to be a potent Whitecaps attack suddenly looked more like a woodpecker taking a steel pole to task. Not much progress and one helluva headache.
Toronto took control in the second half, watching the Whitecaps attempt the soccer-equivalent of the dump and chase time and time again. The TFC defenders took a few large steps backwards and simply watched the balls come, abandoning any semblance of chasing. Yet the Caps seemed content to fire away and perhaps oblivious to the fact that it simply wasn’t working.
Let’s take a look at the highlights, the lowlights, and the limelight in the Caps’ 3-1 loss on Saturday.
Add another one to the list. Last night, the Vancouver Whitecaps’ improbable streak of failing to win the Voyageurs Cup stretched to 13 years when Joe Bendik made the only save of a penalty shootout to send Toronto FC through to the finals against the Montreal Impact.
The soccer gods, as they often like to do during the Voyageurs Cup tournament, were having a laugh yesterday. One of them devised the following scenario:
First, make the busiest part of the Whitecaps schedule coincide with two different Cup competitions, ensuring they either have to rotate the squad (which isn’t all that deep) or play tired. Second, have Toronto FC lose over a quarter of their league games consecutively to start the year, ensuring they are out of playoff contention and have nothing else to play for. Third, have Toronto somehow squeak past Montreal to get into the finals to face Vancouver. Fourth, have the Whitecaps play uninspired soccer. OK, number four definitely wasn’t the soccer gods’ fault, but the result, a 2-1 aggregate loss to Toronto, will still seem unfair to Vancouver soccer fans. This was to be our year, and it all went wrong.