Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Puerto Rico Islanders 1: Whitecaps are USL-1 Champions and Gbeke is King!

October 13, 2008 at 6:32 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2008 | Leave a comment

Campiones, Campiones, Ole Ole Ole!!!

The Whitecaps finally did it, winning the USL Championship on home turf over the Puerto Rico Islanders.  Without a doubt this was the best night at Swangard that I can remember.  It was a classic match between the two top teams in the USL.  All credit to the PRI, they are a great team, and good footballers.   All credit to their fans who were loud and proud after what must have been a huge journey from Puerto Rico all the way to Vancouver.

The first half was tense and combative.  No goals were scored thanks mainly to the PRI Keeper Gaudette, who robbed us with a full stretch save late in the first half.  I was already jumping for joy when he came out of nowhere to grasp the ball.

The Whitecaps were superb to a man.  Nolly in goal, Kindel, Clarke, Charles and Martin at the back, Nash, Valente, Gage, and Moose in Midfield, and Gbeke and Sebrango up front.   Manager Teitur  went mostly with experience, with Moose and Gage providing the youth.   Both Moose and Gage were magnificent, and I have to say that a star is born in Gage, who performed magnificently beyond his years.  He tackled well, and pressured PRI’s midfield into mistakes.  His shooting leaves something to be desired, but he was a solid and mature influence on the Caps, anchoring the midfield very well.  Nash was his usual superb self, battling away in midfield and leading by example.  Early in the second half he hit a volley that had goal written all over it, but unfortunately it was blocked.

The first goal came off of a corner kick, which was flicked by inspirational captain Clarke to the far post for Gbeke to head in to the near post in the 55th minute.  His looping header was perfectly placed to elude the keeper and a couple of defenders who could only watch in despair as it went in.

Sebrango had the opportunity to put the Caps two goals ahead but his glancing header at the near post just missed the far post.

PRI managed to equalise on a play which displayed their quality.  Gbandi headed in a lovely cross from Delgado in the 68th Minute.  I began to worry at this point!

The Caps pulled ahead again in the 74th minute.  Nash threw the ball in to Moose, and the natural play would have been to return the ball to Nash.  Moose kept the ball and went towards an empty space towards PR’s goal line.  He then delivered a wicked curling cross which Gbeke nodded in.

The Caps played out the last 15 minutes perfectly and did not give PRI any more clear chances though Nolly did make a couple of stops confidently.

Charles played like a rock at the back, and our glorious captain Clarke lead the team admirably.

All credit to Teitur Thordarson, who did not use any subs and stuck with his original line up. He picked the perfect team, and played the team to the best strategy. Some of the boys looked a bit battered and weary, notably Kindel and Charles, but they toughed it out for the win. The choice of Whitecaps Residency player Gage to start was inspired, and I hope we still have him for next year. He is going to be a great player.

The celebrations were memorable, and we got to hug and shake hands with all of the Caps and Teitur in the Southside.  It was a fantastic celebration. We did the obligatory pitch invasion after the match, and I got to hold the Cup with Omar Jarun.  He is so bloody big I could barely touch it!

I was really pleased for the old boys, Kindel, Valente, Clarke and Nash.  They finally got to win a championship at home.  These guys have given so much blood, sweat and tears for the team over the years.  They richly deserved this fantastic victory.

It was great to see Gbeke have the match of his life.  He was at the Caps years ago when Fonseca was in charge, but never really got into the team. He has matured over the years and I was glad to see him return to the Caps because he has great skill, strength and determination.  On this day, he was King Gbeke!  Long live the King!

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