Tags: Nick Rimando
Thank heaven for Nick Rimando who made several stunning saves to preserve a 0-0 draw in Portland. No wonder he is my favorite player not playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Whitecaps still need 4 points to be sure, however. We have two matches left to Portland’s one. Lets hope we get three points tomorrow night in San Jose to really get our boots on the necks of the Timbers.
Tags: Cascadia Cup, Kekuta Manneh, major league soccer, Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps
We knew if the Vancouver Whitecaps were going to beat the Seattle Sounders last night that Kekuta Manneh was going to have to do something very special like he did last year. And he did just that, providing a single piece of magic, and ultimately a win, for Whitecaps fans to savour for a very long time.
Manneh was the only real choice to start on the left side with Darren mattocks out on international duty and Sebastian Fernandez suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Manneh’s goal came just before half time. The Whitecaps were under heavy pressure when Mauro Rosales got back possession of the ball in front of the Whitecaps box and found Pedro Morales with a neat forward pass. Manneh, whose marker had left him, then received the ball in plenty of space on the left from Pedro Morales. Manneh had plenty of running room and first made a move to the middle of the pitch at the top of the box before nearly slicing Seattle defender Chad Marshall in half with a vicious cut to the left. He then nutmegged Seattle keeper Frei, (just as he had done to last year’s Seattle keeper Gspurning!), to put the Whitecaps up 1-0 just on the stroke of half time.
The timing of Manneh’s goal was perfect; it was a triumphant blow to Seattle’s confidence just before the break. Furthermore, Manneh had just been gouged in the hip joint by Obafemi Martins, causing him to go down in a lot pain. Manneh scored his goal just before the swelling kicked in, which caused him to leave play at the half. New signing Kianz Frose was called on to replace him, and did a creditable job in spite of looking a bit over-awed by the occasion.
Every man on the pitch played his role for the Vancouver Whitecaps last night, which is a credit to coach Carl Robinson, who coached his best match yet for the Whitecaps. All of the players worked like dogs for Robinson to deny Seattle room to play.
Tenacious defensive midfielders Mathias Laba and Russell Teibert, who are both small in stature but looked like they were ten feet tall last night, were particularly effective and played the games of their lives for the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps played like a big net last night, pressuring and denying space as a team, rather than as individuals. Without Teibert and Laba being so effective, I have no doubt this would have been a loss rather than a win.
Seattle’s hotshot strikers Martins and Dempsey were both frustrated by the lack of space and the physical play of Laba and Teibert. They simply did not know how to cope and created precious few chances to score on the Whitecaps.
When Seattle attempted to go over Laba and Teibert with high balls, Kendall Waston was there to head away virtually every cross that came in. Waston’s performance was commanding and heroic, and the steady Andy O’Brien cleaned up anything else that came along. David Ousted had another rock steady game, catching the high balls that were his cleanly and confidently.
Pedro Morales was magnificent, tackling tenaciously and playing on even though he had leg cramps and his knee kept locking up. It was a true captain’s performance. While the Whitecaps only had 37% of the ball, Morales helped to keep the ball and calm things down at key points, giving our defence a rest from time to time.
The win meant the Vancouver Whitecaps retained the Cascadia Cup, the trophy awarded to the Cascadia team that accumulates the most points against other Cascadia rivals in MLS play.
The win meant Vancouver leap-frogged Portland by one point in the standings for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With two games left for each team, the Whitecaps have the easier route, playing the already eliminated San Jose Earthquakes and the Colorado Rapids, while the Timbers have to play powerhouses Real Salt Lake and Dallas FC in their final two matches.
The news tonight was that the Portland Timbers have beaten San Jose and have vaulted over the Whitecaps for the final playoff spot. The need for individual Whitecaps players to step up and do extraordinary things has grown greater. Late in the 2013 season a young lad called Kekuta Manneh had an extraordinary game against the Seattle Sounders, scoring a spectacular hat trick in a 4-1 win for the Whitecaps.
If the Whitecaps are to get anything from this Friday’s match in Seattle, we need Manneh to have another great match. With Seb Fernandez suspended and Darren Mattocks off on international duty, he will get his opportunity and he must grab it with both hands. Unless Coach Robinson goes for a very conservative approach, Manneh will start on the left side of midfield.
Manneh has had what can only be described as an underwhelming season. After his extraordinary performance in the Seattle fixture last season we expected more in 2014. Circumstances have now made it possible for him to save his season and show us what happened in Seattle last year was no fluke.
Lets hope Manneh wakes up and helps us get another miracle win over our Cascadia rivals.
The Vancouver Whitecaps chose last Saturday’s match against Dallas to put Dominic Mobilio into the Vancouver Whitecaps “ring of honour”.
If I am correct, Mobilio actually played only one match in a Vancouver Whitecaps shirt back at Swangard Stadium when he was an assistant coach. An incredible string of injuries had left the Whitecaps with a shortage of players, and Mobilio came out of retirement and donned the Vancouver Whitecaps jersey for that one match to help out. I am proud to say I was there, although I was in Ontario for almost all of the rest of his career, which was played in a Vancouver 86ers jersey. I had to see him on television during those years.
Dominic Mobilio was one of those key people who kept the passion for soccer alive in Vancouver in those years between the North American Soccer League and Major League Soccer.
Mobilio was a superb striker who scored 170 goals for the Vancouver 86ers. Mobilio also appeared for Canada 25 times, scoring three goals. Dominic richly deserved to be honoured by the Vancouver Whitecaps, and he really should go down in history as one of Vancouver’s greatest sportsman. I will never forget the sound of Vic Rauter shouting “Mo-bi-Lio” when Dominic scored a goal during televised matches. Mobilio’s shocking passing a number of years ago due to a heart attack robbed us all of a great and celebrated person. I am sure Mobilio would have been very involved in today’s Vancouver Whitecaps but for his untimely passing. We all miss not seeing him at Whitecaps games.
The Mobilio family really did well on the occasion. I must say I really felt a pang of sadness when I saw Dominic’s mum wiping tears from her eyes; it really brought the loss home in a very personal way. Dominic’s brother gave a beautiful speech about what playing soccer in his home town of Vancouver meant to his brother. The ceremony was a reminder that great people come from great families.
Good on the Vancouver Whitecaps for celebrating the career of Dominic Mobilio. Those of us who saw him play won’t forget him.