Tags: Jermain Defoe, major league soccer, MLS, Toronto FC
I never thought I would say it, but if what I am reading is right, I am jealous of TFC. Jermain Defoe has signed with them. Defoe started as a youngster with my favourite English club, West Ham United. I saw him score for West Ham against Chelsea in a 3-2 win back in 2002 when I visited England. He is and has been one of the most gifted and skilled English footballers of his generation. His talents have been wasted at Tottenham, where his skills have been parked on the bench. I think it is a scandal that he has not been playing first team football.
Now he will be playing in Major League Soccer for his old teammate Ryan Nelson, who currently coaches TFC. It is good news for MLS. While Defoe is not exactly a spring chicken any more, he will be one of the top 5 players in the league.
All I can say is I wish he had signed with the Whitecaps!
I got a glimpse into the wonderful world of corporate events before the RSL match as I joined a group of about 35 or so BMO bankers and their clients in a Whitecaps event at BC Place. I was able to participate through the good graces of a fine banker named Stephen Lee who assists my friend Jonas with his financial matters.
We showed up at BC Place at 9 AM and registered for the event. We were asked to sign a release form which allowed both BMO and the Whitecaps to murder us if they wished without any legal consequence. We then were invited to get changed into a flashy BMO shirt we were handed. We were allowed to enter the pitch at BC Place to have a preliminary chat with Martin Rennie. On the way I met Sam Lenarduzzi, who played for the Vancouver Whitecaps from 1974 until 1978, after which he transferred to the Toronto Blizzard. It was like meeting the Prime Minister.
None other than Whitecaps legend and 1979 hero Carl Valentine introduced Rennie who gave us a brief and entertaining chat about his experience in business (it was a crowd of bankers, after all). Rennie is an entertaining speaker who gave us all a few chuckles along the way. He came across as highly intelligent with a positive spirit. I gave him my view we were going to beat Real Salt Lake the next day and he agreed. We were both wrong.
After Rennie’s speech we were ordered on to the pitch by our gaffer Carl Valentine who had a number of young Whitecaps coaches ready to put us through our paces on the pitch. We had a game of tag for warm-up and then did some shooting and dribbling drills. We then had a couple of small pitch games. After my team was soundly trounced twice it was lunch time.
I would have been happy with the soccer alone but a lovely buffet lunch awaited us. Footy and good grub! It was a Yorkshireman’s paradise: “hear all, see all, say nought; eat all, drink all, pay nought”. I should have been a banker.
Valentine gave us a very interesting speech during lunch about the Whitecaps season and about the Real Salt Lake game the next day. Valentine is a naturally talented speaker, and he proved why he is such an asset to the Whitecaps as club ambassador. His views were insightful and interesting. He gave us a stern warning not to take photographs or tweet the first part of the Whitecaps practice to prevent RSL spies getting their grubby hands on Whitecaps match strategy.
After lunch we got to see the Whitecaps run through their practice. The next day’s starting team practiced set plays together for a while during a light practice. Camilo, in particular, practiced many free kicks with David Ousted and those fake stand up men which formed “the wall”. Poor Kenny Miller limped around and did physio exercises. It was pretty clear he was not going to play the next day. The second and third teams played a scrimmage together on the other half of the pitch.
We had our photos taken with the injured Brad Rusin, who is an enormous fellow. His legs were like tree trunks. I can’t imagine what it is like to actually play against this giant.
After our event was the media game, featuring Jason DeVos, Carlo Corazzin and other local media folks.
I enjoyed the event tremendously. Thanks very much to BMO and the Whitecaps for a great time.
Tags: BCsoccerweb.com, Bob Lenarduzzi, Greg Kerfoot, new york cosmos, Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps history
Ok, ok, I know it would be small potatoes to some, but I am happy about it nonetheless. Whitecapsfanblog started in 2006 as a pro Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium blog and then branched out to deal with all issues surrounding the Vancouver Whitecaps. The reach of whitecapsfanblog is as global as the game of footy itself, according to the stats provided by WordPress, the blog’s host.
Whitecapsfanblog has no commercial aspect as far as its author is concerned, and is done strictly as a hobby in my spare time. It is fuelled by my passion for the Vancouver Whitecaps, which began after watching the Whitecaps win the second leg of the semi-final of the NASL playoffs against the New York Cosmos in 1979. I was fourteen years old. That match was the greatest match in the history of the NASL, and arguably one of the greatest football matches ever played.
I have English blood, but being the first member of the family born in Canada, I took to hockey early in life. By winning the 1979 NASL soccer Bowl, the Vancouver Whitecaps awakened the Englishman inside me and so began my love of watching football aka “soccer”. The fact the majority of Whitecaps coaches and players spoke with English accents and sounded like a family gathering over in England helped matters.
Not only did the Whitecaps get me watching soccer, but playing it as well. I still play twice a week and it is still my favourite form of exercise. There is no doubt about it: the Vancouver Whitecaps changed my life for the better.
I have lived through three eras of the Vancouver Whitecaps, the 1974-84 North American Soccer League era, the 2000-2010 United Soccer Leagues era and the current MLS era. During the USL days, when the Whitecaps would play in front of 2500 -4500 or so at little old Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, I dreamed the Whitecaps would get back to where they belonged at a higher level of professional soccer. At that time, while skepticism about whether soccer would ever succeed in North America reigned supreme, Major League Soccer itself was struggling, having contracted as a league. It all looked very gloomy indeed, but my friends, family and I kept the flame going in the Southside of Swangard Stadium.
Luckily Bob Lenarduzzi kept the flame going too, and Bobby is the person who had the vision, passion and leadership to keep some form of professional football going in Vancouver through the lean years, especially in 2002 when the USL had to take over the running of the Whitecaps, who were ownerless and again on the verge of extinction. Luckily current owner Greg Kerfoot saw the growth potential of a brand that was hitting rock bottom.
Thanks to the likes of Kerfoot and Lenarduzzi, here we are today, the Whitecaps are thriving in a league which is itself taking off, and a whole new generation of young people has joined us old fogeys in embracing the Whitecaps in their hearts. Vancouver fans, through the efforts of the Southsiders, are learning that supporting a football team is about participation, not sitting on your hands. Fans of other MLS teams have also learned this, and the game day experience has improved immeasurably because of it.
I have had some struggles adjusting to the new era: I find the uniforms and logo to be substandard and boring; I am a staunch traditionalist for the uniform worn from 1978-1984 which was echoed in the years 2000-2010. I have the usual grumbles fans have about the strength of the players on the team and of the Coach and management. But these are the luxuries of those who actually have a team to grumble about.
What has also expanded is the number of people blogging and writing about the Whitecaps. When I started, I was one of a mere handful of people writing about the Whitecaps, though the Southsiders forum was going strong.
Now the Sun and Province, which used to donate very little space to the Whitecaps in the USL days, now have two or three writers on the go at once. It is quite a turnaround.
I would like to thank Richard Howes for posting my articles on his excellent site BCSoccerweb.com which has been heroically serving the local soccer scene for years now. I would also like to thank all of the readers and those who left comments on the blog (the constructive ones, anyways!).
Here’s to the next 100,000 views, and to thousands more Vancouver Whitecaps games.
Tags: Don Garber, major league soccer, MLS winter schedule; MLS summer soccer, Sepp Blatter, Sepp Blatter Schedule change, summer soccer
I love watching summer soccer. One of the things I love about Major League Soccer is that it keeps soccer going all year round without a break. When the season in Europe winds down, Major League Soccer is just getting into the meat of the season. When the MLS cup is awarded, things are well under way in Europe. A nasty fellow called Sepp Blatter wants to put and end to this non-stop party.
Blatter, who is the President of FIFA and the undisputed Clown Prince of Football, wants us to change soccer in North America to correspond with the winter schedule the rest of the world plays. This would mean starting the league in August, taking a six to eight week break at winter, and then starting up again in the new year with the final in spring.
This is a recipe for disaster for MLS, which has recently enjoyed a fantastic boom in growth due to the David Beckham effect. Why would MLS squander this growth and risk alienating its fans through radical changes to its schedule?
I realize that some MLS fans want things to be just like they are in Europe, with no salary cap, promotion and relegation, and winter football. In my view there would be nothing more foolish and destructive than trying to emulate European football. What makes MLS soccer so interesting is the fact it is a laboratory for new football ideas. The conservatives of FIFA don’t like this creativity. I say they should back off.
There is no doubt the MLS schedule should be created so as not to interfere with World Cup qualifiers, Major World Cup tournament matches, and FIFA sanctioned international friendlies. This means more mid week games should be played so that fans don’t have to watch their MLS teams play without their stars who are absent for international duty.
If ratings drop off in winter due to NFL pointy-ball, the MLS and its owners will just have to compete and win by providing entertaining football and by gaining fan loyalty. There are signs that this is working, with loyal fan groups in particular in Portland, Seattle and Kansas City. The majority of these fans will be packing their stadia whether NFL is on or not.
The prospect of watching football games on plastic pitches in domed stadia because of winter weather does not appeal to me at all.
Don Garber should resist the evil advances of Sepp Blatter and retain the summer schedule for MLS.