Tag Archives: Vancouver

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.

 

Voyageurs Cup 2015 – Final Leg Preview

*Heavy, world-weary sigh.*

Well, here we go again. The clock has ticked over to August 26th, and the Vancouver Whitecaps will play the Montreal Impact tonight at BC Place in the final match of the Canadian Championship. The forums, message boards and social media outlets have all filled up with the prognostications of the supporters. Most are dire, a Pavlovian response to the words “Voyageurs Cup Final” borne of 13 years of failure. Yet there is a feeling of hope, too. A dangerous feeling, that. The hope exists because — for at least the fifth consecutive year — the Whitecaps have their best-ever chance to finally capture this trophy. Continue reading Voyageurs Cup 2015 – Final Leg Preview

Summertime & The Winning’s Easy

Whitecaps Wednesday

The Whitecaps’ goal parade continued on Saturday as they poured in four against Western Conference foes Real Salt Lake. The four-spot gives them ten goals for over their last three games while only surrendering a single goal against in the same time frame.

It was another victory in a game that would have likely offered up a serving of humble pie in years past – Caps fans have become accustomed to never taking “guaranteed win night” for granted much like Dennis Skulsky and the BC Lions – bringing about the notion (for me anyways) that this team is exceeding expectations.

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, four is not enough!” Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

For certain this team has suffered some authentic disappointment season (see June 3, May 23), but on the whole, the squad has taken steps towards becoming the “professional team” all franchises aspire to be. That is, winning games you should and managing to earn results in many that you shouldn’t.

But is this what we had envisioned for the 2015 Whitecaps coming into the MLS season? Let us spew a few words about that.

Continue reading Summertime & The Winning’s Easy

Champions League Preview – Round 1 vs. Seattle

Tonight, the Vancouver Whitecaps kick off their first continental campaign when the Seattle Sounders come – somewhat reluctantly, as we’ll see later – to town for the first of four CONCACAF Champions League group stage matches.

The Whitecaps got something of a mixed bag in their first CCL draw. On the one hand, they avoided a Mexican club. On the other, they drew a very strong MLS side in Seattle and a 2015 quarterfinalist in Honduras’ CD Olimpia. This presents Carl Robinson with an interesting dilemma. Does he count his lucky stars that the likes of Club America and Cruz Azul were drawn into other groups, and go for the win, testing his squad depth and potentially risking results in the Voyageurs Cup and the league, or does he trust a young squad to try and nick a result? Province reporter Marc Weber provided this quote, which seems to indicate the latter: “It will be the best lineup I think can go out and win this game, with an eye on Saturday, with an eye on next Wednesday.”

With that in mind, a few predictions, all of them sure to be wrong because what the hell do I know?

Robert Earnshaw thanks the heavens for his first goal as a Vancouver Whitecap — he should be thanking Pedro Morales for that sick pass, I'd say. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the head.
Robert Earnshaw thanks the heavens for his first goal as a Vancouver Whitecap — he should be thanking Pedro Morales for that sick pass, I’d say. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the head.

Continue reading Champions League Preview – Round 1 vs. Seattle

King Kah climbs the Space Needle

This was a dominant performance. The Vancouver Whitecaps took vengeance down the I-5 and spanked the Seattle Sounders 3-0 this weekend, and in doing so moved back atop the Western Conference standings.

Pa Modou Kah, he of a single goal during his respectably long MLS career, put a brace into the back of the Seattle net, and stirred up considerable ire among Flounders fans, players and scribes with his post-game giggles on the Century Link pitch. Kah earned a spot on the MLS Team of the Week for his efforts. Not bad for an ageing defender more famous for big gaffes than big goals.

Pa Modou Kah tripled his career MLS goal total with a brace against the Seattle Flounders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Pa Modou Kah tripled his career MLS goal total with a brace against the Seattle Flounders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

It was a text book, solid performance by the visitors. David Ousted got the clean sheet by wasn’t really tested, if we’re being honest. Kendall Waston earned his obligatory yellow card for little more than being a large man. Pedro Morales scored a beauty of an insurance goal on a free kick from distance.

Over 53,000 fans took in the spectacle. It marks seven losses in eight games for a Seattle team that has all the parts to do damage. This Sounders squad doesn’t know what to do with itself right now. Defence? Atrocious. Passing? Loose and irresponsible.

Vancouver is happy to take advantage — these three points mean another Cascadia Cup is just a draw away. Before that, look for heated challenges and not-so-gentle tackles to rule the day when these two teams square off on Wednesday at BC Place in Champions League play. And don’t be surprised if Kah is even more trash-talky than usual after this two-goal performance.

Highlights, even if the preceding ad’s depiction of a Vancouver fan practising in deep snow is particularly galling. Have any of the MLS staffers even been north of 49 before? This is a league where 15% of franchises exist in Canada, but they only play the Star-Spangled Banner before the All-Star Game. Vancouver has snow on the ground occasionally — about as often as MLS brass makes sense, but we would never suggest logic as being one of their defining traits.

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 68: the last Whitecaps home match for six weeks

Russell and Jason wax poetic on the beautiful game, specifically with respect to the Vancouver Whitecaps upcoming six-week road swing.

• Introduction
• Thanks John
• Whitecaps take a loooooong road trip
• Want to be an MLS referee? Your fraud charge is no problem!
• Whitecaps got jobbed in Colorado
• Even the Rapids thought it was a bad call
• The Whitecaps haven’t inspired much confidence
• July and August will be hectic, to say the least
• Is Pedro back?
• Are Kah and Waston worth the fouls and cards?
• Fix You by Coldplay
• There’s always money in the banana stand

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored thrice and earned three points with a 3-nil shutout of the visiting Philadelphia Union. Photos by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Darren Mattocks scores on the Philadelphia Union. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Darren Mattocks scores an impressively athletic goal against the Philadelphia Union to cap off a 3-0 Whitecaps win at BC Place. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head

Episode 67: Babcock, Russians and Brian Burke’s ego

Russell and Jason wax poetic on a range of hockey topics, from Mike Babcock’s monster contract to Brian Burke’s monster ego and Ilya Kovalchuk’s monster cajones.

• Introduction
• Pop Tart Girl by the Orchid Highway
• The Russians have left the ice
• McKayla is unimpressed with Ilya Kovalchuk
• Kudos to Alex Ovechkin
• Mike Babcock is a Leaf. What a shocker
• Kessel & Phaneuf, your days are numbered
• Brian Burke, one ego to rule them all
• Will there be apotheosis for Babs in T-dot?
• Who will be GM?
• The Wreck of the Maple Leafs Season — a parody by Peter Gross

Even McKayla Maroney was unimpressed with the Russians' lack of sportsmanship at the recent World Championships.
Even McKayla Maroney was unimpressed with the Russians’ lack of sportsmanship at the recent World Championships.

Episode 62: A little Help! for the Sedins

A tough week for Vancouver sports fans, as the Canucks, Whitecaps and Stealth all lose on home turf. Is there light at the end of the rainy, oil-slicked tunnel?

• Introduction
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• Vancouver Canucks: plosion guards extraordinaires
• Russell sucks at basketball brackets
• The Canucks outperformed expectations
• The Flames deserved the win
• Stats don’t apply to the Calgary Flames
• Call-in shows feature some… interesting people
• Breaking: Willie Desjardins is 114 years old
• Don’t bring a nativity scene onto the ice
• If you don’t like the twins, you’re a bad person
• People still talk trash about Luongo
• The Sediins & Bobby Lu will be in the Hall of Fame
• Russell: Break up the Sedins
• Vrbata-Bonino-Higgins: a great third line
• Refrain: The twins need help
• Help! by the Beatles