The Vancouver Whitecaps surprised just about everyone in MLS on Saturday, as they dominated — dominated — the LA Galaxy from opening kickoff to the final whistle. The official stats keepers only gave Vancouver 52% of possession, but let’s be clear: the Caps played freakin’ keepaway against the defending champs, and won handily. The 2-0 scoreline flatters L.A. More telling is the shot total: Vancouver generated 18 shots on the Galaxy net, and only allowed six the other way. If you only count balls on net, the Whitecaps were even more impressive, outshooting L.A. nine to one.
So far this season, the Caps have won ugly, they’ve won lucky, and on Saturday, they won impressively. Vancouver is now on an MLS franchise-high four-game win streak, with depth everywhere on the pitch. It looks like it’s going to be a fun season, y’all.
Next up it’s a midweek game against the Columbus Crew, Wednesday at 7pm at BC Place, followed by a road match in San Jose on Saturday.
After a disappointing loss to Toronto in their season opener, the Whitecaps have reeled off three straight wins and find themselves in good shape through the first month of play. Sure, they’ve had a flair for the dramatic, earning two of the three victories in stoppage time and the other just shortly before, but it’s tough to argue with nine points in four games – a win is a win after all.
And while the results have been by and large positive (more positive than I had predicted), the process certainly hasn’t been what Carl Robinson was expecting of his squad, which is both a testament to the talent he has brought in and an indictment on their efforts thus far. Yet, over the last three weeks, a rotating cast of players has provided just enough magic to allow the Whitecaps to come out victorious. Which is a far cry from where this team was last year.
Last season we saw a team that won and lost largely due to the performance of one man. As Pedro went, the Whitecaps went. And to start the 2015 campaign, it appears that perhaps Pedro has indeed went.
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:
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.”
“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:
“Now hold on a second, Russell! That doesn’t make any sense! How can a win not be a win?” Lend me your attention for a moment fine reader and I’ll be happy to explain.
On March 14, we saw the Vancouver Whitecaps escape Toyota Park with a 1-0 result over the Chicago Fire. I watched this game while a wave of frustration bombarded me with each squandered scoring opportunity.
Sure, the Whitecaps notched their first triumph of the infantile MLS season this weekend. I’d suggest that many of you were in fact quite happy to see the Whitecaps find the victory in Chicago on Saturday. It’s not out of the question that you were placated by the fact that the Whitecaps FC had never scored a goal at Toyota Park. And many of you probably defaulted to using the aforementioned “a win is a win” cliché as some type of reasoning for arriving at your satisfaction in seeing the Caps win. (I’m looking at YOU, Kurylo).
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.
Another Wednesday, another Whitecaps. Put those two things together and you have a sentence that makes editors break out into cold sweats, and Whitecaps Wednesday. So welcome, and please, make yourself at home whilst I stride this towel over to Jason with which to wipe his moisty brow.
This is the latest edition of the March to March, bringing the total now to six. SIX! Can you believe it? I don’t even own six pairs of underwear (what proud, decent man does though), yet here I am punching out a sextuple of Whitecaps Wednesday pieces. You probably can’t even count them all on one hand anymore! And if you can, colour me impressed.
August is a busy month for Caps, who manage to squeeze five games into five weeks. That means five airtight predictions in which you can only yearn to store your favourite sandwiches. Click on to read on, friend.
Whitecaps Wednesday spent last week in Harrison Hot Springs, dodging village-wide gas leaks and a hearty collection of bed bugs (thanks Ramada Hotels). Luckily, the Caps just officially released what most have expected for a while now: a brand spankin’ new kit, so the previous one, now infested with little creepy crawlies, has found a new home in the firepit.
When we last checked in on the Whitecaps, they were mired in a long stretch of games away from Vancouver and, despite dropping their last game of the month, managed to acquit themselves well overall. July sees them in familiar territory, that is away from theirs, as they finally wrap up their road trip before heading home.
The international offices of Pucked in the Head were unceremoniously attacked last week by an audiophilic zombie, leading to chaos and turmoil throughout the agency. The confrontation eventually led to the production of a podcast and a brief hiatus for our beloved Whitecaps Wednesday, but it is with great pride that I report everyone here remains just as screwed up as they were prior to the zombie’s arrival. No more, no less.
As for today, the fourth installment of the “March to March” series trumpets the return of Whitecaps Wednesday, in which we will examine the Whitecaps’ matchups throughout the month of June.
Vancouver heads out on the road, where they will remain for an extended period of time, in order to allow the 2015 Women’s World Cup the use of their hallowed, lawsuit-initiating turf. Read on to find out how I expect month four of the Caps MLS season to play out. Continue reading The March to March – Part 4→
Welcome once again to Whitecaps Wednesday – and the 3rd installment of Pucked in the Head’s “March to March” series. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that the Whitecaps have managed to pull five victories from their first nine games.
Now mired in their busiest stretch of games (but not the most frenzied – we’ll see that in Part 4), we take a look into the third month of the season and forecast the results of their five May matches.
Buckle up quick, as their month kicks off with an away fixture in Portland, the first of two Cascadia matches in a three-week stretch.
I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for today. Can you believe it’s finally here? I know I can’t. And I bet you missed me. But don’t fret, I’ve missed you too.
And now with formalities aside, part two of Pucked In The Head’s March to March series sees the Whitecaps enter the second month of the 2015 MLS season with a 2-1-1 record. April starts off with a tough contest for the boys in the blue and white, followed by two more games within a week.
What will be the result, you ask? Read on, find out and curse my divinations in the comment section.