The Vancouver Whitecaps are in Tucson, Arizona as they continue their preparations for the 2016 MLS regular season. I, on the other hand, have decided to keep my mind firmly static in 2015 – the days when I had a job, a robust hairline and a life with purpose. You, dear reader, will have to drag me, whining and defecating, into the present. Or, just wait another week when I’m forced to produce a Whitecaps Wednesday piece not beginning with “The Top 5 of 2015”, as the following represents the final entry into said endeavour.
That’s right, we have officially reached the gold medal winner on this completely arbitrary list composed by myself in conjunction with nothing and no one. I recognize that this may not be the best method in which to compose a list, but somehow, I always manage to justify my writing and I’ll be damned if I don’t. So then, with that out of the way, I hereby present to you the top game of 2015 for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Entry #1 on the Top 5 of 2015:
August 26, 2015 – BC Place Stadium, Vancouver
Whitecaps FC: 2 – Montreal Impact: 0
After an up-and-down road performance over the previous two weeks, the Whitecaps welcomed the Montreal Impact to BC Place for the Amway Canadian Championship final. Coming into the game, the squads were tied 2-2 on aggregate, although the Whitecaps two away goals tipped the advantage in their favour. Fans had seen this type of scenario before in 2013, when these same teams entered the final game tied 0-0 on aggregate. That year, however, the Impact scored late to secure a 2-2 draw at BC Place and win the Championship by virtue of away goals.
This time round, the Caps did their best to usher away any feelings of malaise as they pressed forward early and often. Impact defender Victor Cabrera certainly felt the pressure, and was sent off in the 30th minute after some lazy defending on Octavio Rivero earning him his second yellow card of the game. Rivero wasted little time in putting his team in front, poking the ball over the goal line after his countryman Cristian Techera did most of the work. The Bug ran down an errant pass by former Whitecap Nigel Reo-Coker before dancing around Impact keeper Eric Kronberg and another defender to get a chance at goal. Kronberg did a good job recovering to get his fingertips on Techera’s shot, but he could only manage to push the ball’s trajectory just inside the far post. The opportunistic Rivero said muchas gracias, señor, and toed in the game’s first goal in the 39th minute.
Tim Parker would score his first goal as a Whitecap to double the lead early in the second half. Captain Pedro Morales delivered a wonderful corner kick into the box in the 53rd minute. The rookie defender got on the end of it and directed the ball low into the corner to round out the scoring.
Octavio Rivero stole that goal from Cristian Techera, who truly deserves the praise. The diminutive winger was still early in his tenure with the Whitecaps but was quickly cementing his reputation as a smart, speedy and superlative player. He was noticeable all over the field in this game, and was instrumental in getting his team the lead and the Voyageurs Cup.
In what would prove to be foreshadowing, Tim Parker lined up beside Kendall Waston, as Pa Modou-Kah was sidelined due to injury. Big Red played a remarkable game, not only contributing on offence but also demonstrating more than a little defensive prowess. It was a performance that the Vancouver faithful would come to expect from the American, who seemingly got better as each week passed in 2015. He would become a regular starter for coach Carl Robinson towards the latter stages of the — expect more of the same in 2016.
After thirteen arduous years of failure, the Vancouver Whitecaps finally managed to close the deal and bring home a Voyageurs Cup. For many of those years, the Whitecaps could have made a solid case for being the best team in Canada, but always had that big, silver-plated but they’ve never won the Canadian trophy hanging over their heads. They’d found new and exciting ways to lose the Cup, you have to give them that. But at last, with this impressive win over Montreal, that bugaboo could be put to bloody rest. You could feel the collective sigh of relief from fans, who had become accustomed to Caps collapses, as the final whistle blew.
Perhaps what was most striking about the win was the sheer jubilance shown by the players. This collective of athletes, the vast majority of whom are not Canadian, were genuinely elated to emerge victorious. The team celebrated on the pitch, in front of their fans, for nearly an hour after the final whistle and managed to sustain the good feels for an extended period of time beyond that. Kudos to Carl Robinson and his staff for placing emphasis on the tournament and impressing the importance of the competition upon the players. He convinced them that the Voyageurs Cup does something for the fans, for the franchise and for themselves as individuals. You can check out the glory in highlight form below.