Vancouver v. LA: A Meditation on Difference-Makers

My interest tilted toward the home team when I tuned into the Vancouver Whitecaps v. LA Galaxy. Memories of the season-opening curb-stomp against Red Bull New York the angle: maybe the ‘Caps would do it again, especially if they carried some confidence over from the prior week’s narrow loss to LA at the Stub Hub.

Pedro Morales made one hell of an impression in that opener. Talk of how he’d eviscerate any team fool enough to leave him alone with the ball at his feet bubbled into commentary. Yep, all very promising.

The Pedro Morales I watched last night was not that guy. He did hit a couple cross-field beauties, balls that landed on a dime’s edge from 40+ yards away – things o’ beauty, in all honesty – but he squandered those hot little flashes with some alarmingly loose, shorter-range passing. You start to wonder if Morales can only hit the long ball. Continue reading

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Vancouver Whitecaps 2014 Season Preview: The Little Team That Might

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M & M & M & M: What they should aspire to.

How’d 2013 Treat ‘Em: 13-12-9 (W-L-T), 53 gf, 45 ga; 7th in the West
The Whitecaps had the Golden Boot winner on their roster – yay! This did not help them make the playoffs – boo! Still, worse than not making the playoffs was the way that Golden Boot winner broke up with them, like, in front of…the…whole…school. SO embarrassing! They spazzed a little through their offseason in general – I remember something going weird in the draft as well – but that only mattered due to the way they ended 2013. Some nice players emerged – Kekuta Manneh, Russell Teibert (the Canadian Diego Fagundez!) – but injuries hurt ’em (Jay DeMerit, most prominently) and there was drama before the season ended (Darren Mattocks) and, at or near the end of the season, their coach got canned for failing to sail the ship straight. The ‘Caps proved a great team on their day – just ask Seattle (ha!) – but the good days just didn’t come often enough.

Exciting Additions ! – Steven Beitashour, Matias Laba, Pedro Morales

Tricky Departures… – Lee Young-Pyo, Camilo Sanvezzo, Matt Watson (maybe), Daigo Kobayashi

Quality Parts: Beitashour, Jordan Harvey, Gershon Koffie, Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks (when sane), Kenny Miller, Nigel Reo-Coker, Russell Teibert

It Gets Better If They Come Good: Jay DeMerit (health), Mehdi Ballouchy, Christian Dean, Laba, Andy O’Brien, Omar Salgado

What I’d Expect Based on the Above:
It depends on two things, mainly, the extent to which they remedy the above and how they fit into a hyper-competitive Western Conference. The latter looms larger for my money. Vancouver does have good parts – for instance, get Manneh and Mattocks rolling (go with “M&M,” guys…wait, “M&M&M!” Awesome! Branding, people…) with Miller pulling the strings behind them and the attack could be something deadly. Generally, though, the issue is the meaningful number of “ifs.” Sure, things can go wrong for any team – what worked in the past won’t always work going forward – but, in the West especially, most teams at least have that foundation of things that work in the past to carry them forward with a bit of comforting confidence. If there’s a surprise team in the West, one that no one sees coming till they’ve arrived, it’s Vancouver. Look out, y’all. And if anything moves….shoot it!

2014 Season Opener: v. Red Bull New York, March 8