Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Whitecaps FC vs Chivas USA Match Preview

MLS Power Rankings: Week 11

There were a couple of surprises as Week 11 ended in the MLS as two clubs that seemed unbeatable at home lost for the first time in league play.  For the Timbers it was a five game streak since the beginning of their season while for Real Salt Lake it was a streak that had lasted for more than a season.  The biggest risers for this week were DC United who collected the win Portland while RSL dropped the most because of not only their loss but what the teams behind them did.  New England went up in the rankings due to TFC dropping after their horrendous loss to the Philadelphia Union.

1. Los Angeles Galaxy (1)
Record:  8W-2L-5D
Last Week: 1-0 Win vs Houston Dynamo, 1-0 Win at New England Revolution
Next Week:  June 3 vs DC United
It’s an impressive week when you can collect six out six points

Monday, May 30, 2011

Whitecaps Dismiss Thordarson After Twelve Games

The Whitecaps organization shocked the majority of the MLS world when they announced the firing of Teitur Thordarson from the position of head coach.  It is very rare that an expansion team in any sport makes a move like this because of their record and where they are in the standings.  The first year is normally a learning experience for everyone but the letting go of Thordarson shows of the high expectations the top of the Vancouver’s organization has for the club.  At the press conference the Whitecaps named Director of Soccer Operations Tom Soehn as their manager for the remainder of the season.

Since the opening victory on March 19 against TFC, the Whitecaps have suffered five losses and have had to settle for six draws including last weekend against New York.  When you include the Nutrilite games played against Montreal and Toronto their overall record for this year was two wins, five losses and eight draws.  What was especially pointed out at the press conference was their record at home which includes just a single win in seven MLS and two Nutrilite matches.  The majority of those matches were in front of raucous crowds which should have been a factor in turning Empire into a fortress for the opposition.  It was deemed by the organization at the presser that the next three games will be the breaking point for the season if the Caps wish to contend for a playoff spot and they did not see it turning around unless a change was made.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus New York Red Bulls

While it was not a poor performance for the Whitecaps in their 1-1 draw with the Red Bulls, it was definitely a frustrating one for the players, coaches and the supporters.  As tweeted by Benjamin Massey of 86 Forever, it was a game they should have but could have also easily lost. In this game like others the Whitecaps were not consistent in their play and in the few stretches where they did apply pressure there was no conversion.


Eric Hassli- The French striker was very dangerous against the Red Bulls as he, in addition to his goal scored on a penalty kick, had a couple of great opportunities to get a brace including one that was stopped by a great kick save by Sutton.  There is a solid chemistry building between Hassli, Camilo and Chiumineto in the builup to chances which just need to be finished.  GRADE:  B+

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lack Of Finish Cost Whitecaps Another Two Points

The Whitecaps blew another opportunity to collect a full three points, in front of over 21,000 at Empire, by missing on their chances in the final third and settling for a 1-1 draw.  It was typical indecisiveness and that lack of touch in the final pass that caused the Caps to miss out on the goal that could have earned them a second victory.  The Whitecaps opened the scoring with a penalty kick conversion by their DP Eric Hassli in the first half which was answered soon after by the Red Bulls striker Luke Rodgers.

Except for Wes Knight coming in for Leathers at right back the Whitecaps were able to start the same eleven for third straight game and it showed in their play right from the beginning.  Hassli was involved early on as he just missed a volley off a cross from Salinas and then almost set up Camilo in the box for another chance.  After a couple of missed shots by the Red Bulls, Empire exploded as Camilo was able to convert a cross from Rochat but it was waived off as Rochat was in an offside position.  Camilo came right back with another chance as he passed it back to Hassli who left it for Chiumiento but again there was no conversion. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cup Dreams Washed Away By Weather

The Vancouver Whitecaps were thirty minutes away from accomplishing one their main goals entering into this season.  Thirty minutes away from erasing the memories of the 2009 debacle when the Caps were waiting in Stade Saputo to accept the Voyageur’s Cup.  That day it was the Impact who let them down and everyone thought that it would be different this time as it was in their control.  Unfortunately this time it was the weather who let them down as lightning strikes delayed the match and then the rain made the pitch unplayable forcing an abandonment of the second leg.

The Whitecaps pushed their attack right off the opening kickoff as they looked for the early lead by controlling the tempo.  It did not take long for the Caps to get their first chance as Hassli slipped a nice through ball to Camilo into the box who unleashed a shot that beat Frei but missed the net by a couple of feet.  Unlike last week it did not take long for the Whitecaps to capitalize as great work by Hassli forced Cann to spill the ball.  It came to Salinas who slid it to Hassli and the Frenchman unleashed a shot which after a deflection off of de Guzman’s leg found the back of the net.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dunfield Will Join Canada's Squad For 2011 Gold Cup

With the 2011 Gold Cup nearing, the majority of rosters have been named by the CONCACAF participants and the Whitecaps had one of their own named to the Canadian roster.  Alternate captain Terry Dunfield will make his debut in a major international competition for Canada after making appearances in two friendlies for the national squad.  While Dunfield will be a loss for Vancouver’s central midfield, the Caps did dodge a bullet as Jay DeMerit was not named to the USA roster for the Gold Cup as he has not played in enough matches since his injury.

It’s been quite a turnaround for Dunfield when it comes to his international career as he made his debut for the senior team on May 29th of last year at the age of 28.  His only other experience with Canada was with the U23 and U20 teams where he had a combined seven matches.  His story of making Manchester City youth system and the struggles, injury and his own poor choices, he went through after leaving his initial club is well known by most fans.  A great write up on his career by The Province's Marc Weber can be read by clicking here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

MLS Power Rankings: Week 10

There was absolute no changes in the top six of the MLS with all the top teams earning a win or a draw in their weekend matches.  The maximum amount of spots either moving up or down in this week's rankings was two.  Portland and San Jose were the two biggest risers while New England, Chivas and Columbus dropped two spots.

1. Los Angeles Galaxy (1)
Record:  6W-2L-5D
Last Week: 1-0 Win at Chivas USA
Next Week:  May 25 vs Houston Dynamo, May 28 at New England Revolution
Galaxy maintain top spot after beating the Goats for LA bragging rights

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Salaries Don't Always Add Up In MLS

A few weeks ago when the salaries of MLS players were released by their union many in the media started analyzing the numbers and wondering who was overpaid and who was a bargain.  When it came to the bargains for the Whitecaps, many pointed to Terry Dunfield ($65,000), Alain Rochat ($150,000) and Russell Teibert ($55,000).  On the other hand many were surprised at the salary of Alex Morfaw ($90,000) and the fact that so much money was being paid to backup goalkeeper Joe Cannon ($210,000).  

There were some questioning by fans that the Whitecaps were not using the salary cap effectively and overpaying some players that were barely making it to the pitch.  Cannon seems to have lost the battle to Nolly for the starting goalkeeper position as the MLS vet has been healthy for weeks yet has only started the second game of the season when Nolly picked up a minor injury the day before.  The Cameroonian midfielder Morfaw has only seen action in the PDL with residency squad and seems to be sixth or seventh on the center midfield depth chart.  In addition to those players John Thorrington, who was selected last in the expansion draft, has only seen half a game and is on the payroll for over $200,000 as well.  At the time when the salaries were posted Captain Jay DeMerit had only played a match and a half and was the second highest paid Whitecap on the roster behind Hassli.  When you include Thorrington and DeMerit, before he returned from injury, with Cannon and Morfaw the Whitecaps had 33% of their senior roster’s salaries only playing three games.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus TFC 1ST Leg

The Whitecaps had hoped to make things easy for themselves going into their first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championships against TFC.  They even gave their two best strikers, best central midfielder, best playmaker and best defender the day off last weekend against the Revolution.  Despite the domination of the match by the Whitecaps they could only muster a single goal in the second which was equalized ten minutes later by the visitors.


Eric Hassli- Vancouver’s designated player looked like the player from early in the season before the suspensions started affecting his game.  Hassli is finding the balance between playing a physical and avoiding fouls and cards.  His goal was a perfect strike and displayed why the Whitecaps chose him as their first DP.  GRADE:  B+

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whitecaps Unable To Finish As First Leg Ends In Draw

The Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC played to a 1-1 draw at Empire Field in the first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.  Unfortunately for the Whitecaps the draw was not an indication of how the game went as the home side deserved a two or three goal victory.  The game was filled missed chances and a couple of blown calls by the referee that kept TFC from falling behind by multiple goals.  The game’s scoreless deadlock was broken in the second half by Eric Hassli but TFC responded with a goal from their captain Maicon Santos that evened the score line.

The first half saw the Whitecaps pushing forward right away for the first goal as Dunfield fired a pass from Chiumineto wide of the net in the first five minutes.  The Caps had another couple of chances near the 30 minute mark as DeMerit’s header was cleared off the line and then Camilo’s shot was stopped Frei three minutes later.  The visitors saw a couple of their players injured in the first as both Jacob Peterson and Tony Tchani had to be substituted off.  TFC had their best chance of the half as Soolsma’s header was deflected over the bar by goalkeeper Jay Nolly.

Nutrilite Championship Final: 1st Leg Match Preview

Monday, May 16, 2011

MLS Power Rankings: Week 9

The Galaxy return to the top spot in the rankings after a week that saw pick up four points that could have easily been six if not for a late giveaway in Philadelphia.  The biggest risers of this week are FC Dallas, who picked up two wins, and Chivas USA, who upset the Red Bulls in New York.  Both Sporting KC and Columbus slid three spots after losing their games by three last week

 1. Los Angeles Galaxy (3)
Record:  5W-2L-5D
Last Week: 1-1 Draw at Philadelphia Union, 4-1 Win vs Sporting Kansas City
Next Week:  May 21 at Chivas USA
If not for one giveaway the Galaxy could have collected a full six points this week.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Revolution

The Whitecaps travelled across the continent to the east coast and dropped another result on the road losing to the New England Revolution 1-0.  This time they did without their top two strikers, best central midfielder, top playmaker and best defender as it was decided to give them a rest ahead of the first leg for the Nutrilite Finals.  The inexperienced lineup came close to securing a result but a penalty early in the second half cost the Caps any points.


Omar Salgado- The rookie was one of the best Caps on the pitch and had two of the best chances to put one in for the scoreless side.  The raw talent is definitely present in his attacking whether it’s a strike on goal with his leg or with his head.  Salgado just needs time to bring his experience level in line with his skills on the pitch.  GRADE:  B

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Young Caps Taken Down By The Revolution

The Vancouver Whitecaps, based on their starting eleven, went into the match with the Revolution with low expectations and they were met as the Caps dropped another road game 1-0.  After an evenly matched first half where the Whitecaps, in which the young starters actually had some strong stretches of play, the visitors gave up a penalty early in the second that was converted by Sharlie Joseph.  Teitur Thoradson put in a very inexperienced line-up against New England including three teenagers and one player who started his first game in the MLS.

The game started with the Whitecaps pushing forward wide on the wings as the visitors tried to get an early step on the Revolution.  While both teams traded chances in the first 25 minutes of the match, the Caps were controlling the temp in the final 20 of the half.  Two of the best opportunities came from the right side as Knight crossed a ball into the box that just missed Tan’s head and Salinas splitting a couple of defenders only to have his shot blocked by AJ Soares.  A strike from Salgado was also saved by Reis as the Caps were unable to capitalize on their strong possession and both teams headed into halftime in a scoreless draw.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus San Jose Earthquakes

Many people in Vancouver, including myself, thought this match was a very good opportunity for the Whitecaps to pick their second win of the season.  The Earthquakes came into this game struggling to score goals and with the improved defensive game the Caps had played in previous games most thought it was a done deal.  The Whitecaps now have one win and one loss to go with four draws at Empire Field which they will return to next Wednesday for their first leg with Toronto FC


Camilo- While the Brazilian striker seemed non-existent in the first half as he was unable to create chances for himself or the team.  The second half was different as Camilo started making his runs at defenders including one that led to a free kick near the end of the game which eventually led to the tying goal.  GRADE:  B-

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Frantic Finish Secures Just A Single Point For Whitecaps

Once again the Whitecaps turned what could have been a disappointing result into late game heroics as they were able score one minute into injury time and earn a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes.  Despite the draw and the single point, the Caps put forward their most disappointing performance of the season at Empire Field as the Quakes controlled the majority of the match and out chanced the home side.  The game saw the return of Captain Jay DeMerit as well as the first match of this season that Jonathan Leathers didn’t start at right back as he was rested for Wes Knight.

The first five minutes belonged to the Whitecaps as they applied pressure on the Quakes backline with crosses that were just off target.  However San Jose starting taking control as they best chance early in the game came from midfielder Ryan Johnson who fired a shot just wide of the far post.  The pressure from the Earthquakes continued and they were rewarded in 39th minute where after multiple giveaways by Terry Dunfield, Sam Cronin fired a shot at Jay Nolly.  The goalkeeper spilled the ball right to Johnson who was able to cross it back into the middle where it was guided in by 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski.  The Caps once again gave up the first goal as they trailed the Earthquakes heading into halftime.

Monday, May 9, 2011

MLS Power Rankings: Week 8

The New York Red Bulls are able to hold onto the top spot in the power poll as they drew the Galaxy on the road.  The biggest risers of the week were the Crew, thanks to the teams above losing last week, and DC United who finally picked up results against quality opponents.  After losing twice, to the Rapids at home and TFC on the road, the Dynamo drop four spots as they slid the most this week.

1. New York Red Bulls (1)
Record:  4W-1L-3D
Last Week:  1-1 Draw at Los Angeles Galaxy
Next Week:  May 15 vs Chivas USA
The Red Bulls hold serve as they travel to the west coast and draw the other MLS glamour team.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Chicago Fire

After having to play an intense 120 minutes against a bitter rival and then travelling more than halfway across the continent, there was a little doubt that the Whitecaps would be able to pull out a result.  The Caps had a strong opening to the game as well as controlling the game in the last twenty minutes but allowed the Fire to control the tempo in between.  Vancouver will now return home to Empire Field for another midweek match against the San Jose Earthquakes where they look for their second victory of the season.


Eric Hassli- For the first part of the game Hassli seemed to be invisible on the pitch but that more to do with lack of quality service.  He is still above average in his ability to hold up the ball when he does get it in the right location.  One thing Hassli can’t afford to do is miss on opportunities like his breakaway late in the match that would have given the Caps the full three points.  GRADE:  B

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Whitecaps Escape Chicago With A Point

It took four games into their first MLS season before the Whitecaps FC were able to earn their first result away from Empire Field as Vancouver played to a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire.  It was a tale of two halves as the Caps came close to giving up the first score to the Fire in the first half but were helped out by a post. Late in the match they almost pulled out a victory but weren’t able to capitalize on their own chances as Hassli missed on a breakaway and Khalfan just missed on a blast from outside the box. 

The Whitecaps started out strong as less than five minutes into the match Camilo was sent in on goal but was brought down by Fire defender Mikulic on a foul that could have easily put the home team down to 10 men.  About ten minutes later Alain Rochat came close as he fired a shot from outside the box just wide of the net.  The next 30 minutes belonged to the Fire as they controlled possession and had three glorious chances to take the lead.  The first was by Dominic Oduro who beat both Janicki and Akloul only to sail the ball over the bar which was followed by a great save by Nolly off of a strike by midfielder Marco Pappa.  Finally Diego Chaves was sent in alone by Pappa but the Uruguayan poked the ball off the post as both teams went into halftime scoreless.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Montreal Impact 2nd Leg

Going into the the Nutrilite semi-finals the Whitecaps wanted to not only win to exact revenge on the Impact for 2009, they also didn’t want to lose to a Montreal club that wasn’t MLS quality.  It took the Caps a full 210 minutes to defeat Montreal as a late goal by Mouloud Akloul helped them advance to the finals.  The Whitecaps now will add two more games to their busy May schedule as they host TFC at Empire on May 18 and then travel East a week later to face Toronto in the second leg.


Camilo- The striker came on as a halftime substitution for Hassli and seemed to show flashes of his play from earlier games.  While Camilo’s runs at defenders helped set up the free kick which led to the goal, he does need to make that extra pass to a teammate instead of just losing possession.  GRADE:   B

Omar Salgado- Making his second straight start Salgado had some good touches but was beaten off the ball by the physical Impact defenders.  Salgado was good in space as well as in the box where he will be a weapon on set pieces.  GRADE:  B-

Whitecaps Advance To Voyaguer's Cup Final

It took 120 minutes but the Whitecaps were able to dispatch the Montreal Impact and advance to the Nutrilite Canadian Championship Final with a 2-1 score over the two game aggregate.  Vancouver was able to earn the 1-1 draw at Empire with a late goal in the second half of extra time by defender Mouloud Akloul.  The Whitecaps put forward a strong line-up in order to gain a victory but will be pleased with a draw.

Both teams started the match slow with the very few chances going the Impact way off a couple of set pieces.  The Whitecaps started to apply pressure and gained a few free kicks of their own from the 20th minute and on but were unable to convert on any of them.  While the physical play was present from both sides, the Impact players received all cautions for some questionable tackles.  Late in the half Lowrey of the Impact stepped on the leg of Hassli with his cleats but didn’t receive a card.

Monday, May 2, 2011

MLS Power Rankings: Week 7

For the first time this season there is a change at the top as Real Salt Lake, after their CCL finals loss, lose on the road to Portland.  New York is proving that they can beat teams with their potent offense and their stingy defense.  The Timbers are the biggest risers as they moved up six spots this week but must prove their ability to get a result on the road. 

1. New York Red Bulls (3)
Record:  4W-1L-2D
Last Week:  1-0 Win vs Sporting Kansas City
Next Week:  May 7 at LA Galaxy
The Red Bulls are turning into the preseason favorites they were predicted by the experts.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Columbus Crew

The Whitecaps were missing their top two strikers and their captain on the backline but had many of their players return to the midfield and the backline.  It wasn’t enough as the Caps lost their third straight match away from Empire Field in MLS league play.  They won’t have to wait long for another opportunity as they will travel back to the Midwest as they face the Fire in Chicago.


Omar Salgado- The teenager started in his first match but struggled in the first half. After a couple of key subs Salgado seemed to find his game and eventually scored his first goal of a great header.  He is missing a physical prescence which will develop with time.  GRADE:  B-