MLS Soccer: Whitecaps
In their final match at historic Empire Field, the Whitecaps had their rematch with the Seattle Sounders, but were snuffed out of the game early in the second half as the Sounders went on to post a clear 3-1 victory.
Vancouver Whitecaps Round-up - Recent Results
Thanks to Camilo’s opening goal and flashes of skill from Eric Hassli, the ‘Caps did look dangerous going forward at times, but continued to suffer from season long issues with their leaky defence and a midfield incapable of maintaining enough control to apply sustained pressure against the Sounders.
The brightest aspect of Sunday’s second shot at Portland involves the official opening of Bell Pitch at BC Place. It will be interesting to see if the updated acoustics will make for an enhanced atmosphere, or whether the sheer size of the venue and a possibly less than large attendance add up to a quiet, dispirited affair in a non-soccer specific venue.
Otherwise, it is always nice to stoke the fires of a regional rivalry as the Timbers come to town sporting a six win lead over the Vancouver squad this campaign (10 victories to the paltry 4 of the ‘Caps). The hope is for the combination of a new stadium opening and the neighbourhood match to provide some excitement.
The next two rounds of international matches will take place on the 7th and 11thof October, so there will be no absentees for the Portland fixture.
The most significant names here see Atiba Harris (D) continuing his long stint on the injury list, accompanied by midfielder John Thorrington. Otherwise, the Whitecaps are quite healthy late in the season.
Watching the Wave
First year franchises are almost without exception rarely expected to make a major impact in their first years. In this context, the Whitecaps are in line with most observers’ predictions, though their opening match which saw them thump Toronto FC 4-2, did provoke some unrealistic belief among their more fervent supporters that the boys of Vancouver would possibly make the playoffs in their maiden year.
As reality set in however, it has become clear that the team has needed time to adjust to the league, since they stepped up from the USL.
The goal for the remainder of the season should be continued player development and some careful evaluation to see which players have the quality to play at this level.
Personally I found it quite disappointing to see Terry Dunfield shipped out so quickly since the team has often appeared to be lacking passion and drive this season, which are qualities that a local lad such as Terry brought to his hometown team.
Though he missed a penalty earlier in the year, and some further unsettled performances sealed his quick trade, management missed the point that Dunfield’s transition from the English league to MLS at the outset would need some time for him to adapt. However, a player with his level of commitment would have put the time in to improve.
Other players such as well-paid Mustapha Jarju have yet to prove their supposed standing, but have been gifted lengthier periods of patience without much evidence that they are willing to produce the commitment required to lift this team going forward.