Tag Archives: Vancouver

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Whitecaps Wednesday – Yet More MLS Expansion

Let me tell you a story about soccer, greed and spending outside your means.

Once upon a time, there was a league of soccer teams in North America called the North American Soccer League. (Nobody in 1968 had an imagination, more’s the pity. ) Despite a rocky start, the NASL accomplished quite a bit in a short time. In 1969, the league had only five teams, and an average attendance under 3,000. Only a decade later, the league’s heyday saw 24 teams compete before an average attendance of over 14,000. Vancouver fans saw a championship team in the midst of that heyday, as the Whitecaps won the NASL SoccerBowl in 1979 over the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Five seasons after that, however, in 1985, the league was dead.

Carl Valentine was one of the darlings of NASL soccer in its heyday, helping the Vancouver Whitecaps to its only SoccerBowl trophy in 1979. Today he works as an ambassador for the MLS incarnation of the club. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Carl Valentine was one of the darlings of NASL soccer in its heyday, helping the Vancouver Whitecaps to its only SoccerBowl trophy in 1979. Today he works as an ambassador for the MLS incarnation of the club. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

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Darren Mattocks celebrates his first goal of the season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Whitecaps Wednesday – Just A Moment(s)

Whitecaps WednesdayA while ago, Lexus came out with an ad campaign focusing on “moments.” It’s actually rather well done as far as car commercials go. I’m sure you remember it…images of smiling faces, forlorn looks and miraculous events flash by while some guy reads a sweetly written poem about how we all experience these moments.

The Whitecaps happened to experience a few of those this past week versus the Colorado Rapids. High moments, low moments, hopeful moments and desperate moments all made appearances as the Caps saw their unbeaten streak to start the 2014 MLS season come to an end.

Miller: "You know, you got away with one there." Irwin: "Yeah, yeah." Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Kenny Miller and Clint Irwin take a moment to discuss dubious officiating. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

In the interest of delivering the good news first, let’s start with the high moments.

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Gershon Koffie dribbling against a Colorado Rapids defender. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Photo Gallery: Whitecaps 1, Colorado Rapids 2

The Vancouver Whitecaps looked to continue their string of unbeaten play in the 2014 season, up 1-0 in the 77th minute and coming hard at the injury-depleted back line of the Colorado Rapids. Then Matías Laba, pushed roughly to the turf by Rapids midfielder Nick LaBrocca, corralled the ball with his right hand as he appealed to the referee for a foul. Unfortunately for the Caps, the man in yellow whistled at Laba, not LaBrocca, and the intentional handball garnered the Whitecaps midfielder an automatic yellow card. Double alas, it was Laba’s second yellow of the match, meaning that card had to be traded in for a red card.

Miller: "You know, you got away with one there." Irwin: "Yeah, yeah." Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Miller: “You know, you got away with one there.” Irwin: “Yeah, yeah.” Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Within three minutes of Laba’s ejection, the Rapids had not only erased the Whitecaps goal advantage, but scored a second time to take a 2-1 lead themselves.

“If you miss the first call, you don’t penalise the second player with a yellow,” said Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson after the loss, lamenting the official’s role in deciding the outcome. “Unfortunately the 20,000 fans leaving here today won’t be talking about the football that was played here today — and it was a good, tough game played between two very good teams.”

While it’s true LaBrocca could easily have been called for his takedown of Laba, it’s a fact that the Whitecaps haven’t capitalized on long stretches of 11-on-10 play — most notably against Chivas USA in their second game of the year. That Vancouver so quickly capsized after going down a man to Colorado doesn’t speak well to their ability to adapt to unpredictable situations.

Kenny Miller is probably right when he says it should have been 2-0 by the time Laba got his red card anyway. Pedro Morales missed a glorious opportunity just minutes after Mattocks had made it 1-0 in the 65th minute; his shot glanced off Colorado keeper Clint Irwin’s right leg and trickled wide of the far post. Long before that, in the first half, Miller himself was tripped up by Irwin in the box. The referee waved off appeals for a penalty kick, despite clear replays showing the keeper interfering with Miller as he ran for the ball. Let’s not even get into the half-dozen quality scoring chances lost to a poor final touch on this day. Russell Teibert alone wasted four free kicks in dangerous territory and at least two corners by alternately skying the ball well over every attacking Whitecaps player and toeing short passes directly into the shins of Rapids defenders.

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Highlights:
Carl Robinson post-match press conference:

Kenny Miller post-match media scrum:

WHL playoffs

Vancouver has a Giant hill to climb

After finishing dead last with a dismal 44 points just a year ago, the Vancouver Giants made massive strides, improved by 31 points and nabbed the seventh seed in the WHL Western Conference. The season featured a brutal 1-9 start, a remarkable run through the middle of the schedule that saw the G-Men threaten the top four for home ice advantage in the first round, and a home stretch full of injuries and inconsistent play.

Such is the way of the world in junior hockey during a rebuilding phase.

So what does a seventh place finish get you? A dance card full of scoring leaders, defensive stalwarts and Team Canada representatives, that’s what. The Portland Winterhawks are the defending WHL champions, and despite losing stud blueliner Seth Jones to the Nashville Predators, they’re an absolute juggernaut when they’re firing on all cylinders.

WHL playoffs

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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

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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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.

Pucked In The Head’s 1st Annual Whitecaps Off-Season Playlist

It was an off-season filled with questions after a second half meltdown left the Whitecaps WhitecapsLogoon the outside looking in at the 2013-14 MLS playoffs. Where did it all go wrong? Would Martin Rennie keep his job? Who would step into the departing Y-P Lee’s boots? Could management finally land that elusive attacking midfielder?

Naturally, these questions can only be answered by a rousing playlist, featuring nothing but classic songs by classic artists.

I pored over the YouTube archives, spending no less than 32 minutes searching high and low for the finest musical contributions of the last 50 years. Now, without further ado, I present to you the:

 

1st Annual Whitecaps Off-Season Playlist!

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