Whitecaps 3 Miami 2: ‘Caps Win Bizarre Match

June 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2009 | Leave a comment

What a strange one that was!  On a night in which the Caps honoured ’79 champion Carl Valentine, There were three sendings off, only one of which involved a foul by one team against the other.

Football is a funny game and it is one of the few games other than baseball in which you occasionally see team-mates fighting each other rather than the other team!  Late in the match Wesley Charles and Charles Gbeke had some kind of scrap between the two of them.   Charles was immediately sent off.  Gbeke was substituted very late in the match and ended up having a temper tantrum in which he kicked a bunch of Gatorade bottles sitting on the sideline.  He was then sent off.  Luckily we already had a man on the pitch otherwise we would be down to 9 men.    Why Gbeke was so unhappy is beyond me, because he scored 2 goals and set up the other.

It looks as though there are problems in the dressing room, because frustrations are really boiling over.  We will now face suspensions to two first-team players which will leave us exposed on the road.  Furthermore, Justin Thompson just left the team, so we are exposed at the back when Charles serves his suspension.  It will have to be Parke and Reda at the back.

Our defensive troubles continued in this match and we gave up an early goal off of a corner kick in the ninth minute.   Miami defender Zourab scored a beautiful glancing header just inside the far post where Knight was supposed to be standing.  Unfortunately and mysteriously Knight left the post.  He would have had a chance of stopping it had he stayed where he was.

The Whitecaps replied quickly when Wes Knight redeemed himself with a fantastic long throw-in right to Gbeke, who muscled his way to the ball to head home from eight yards or so.

Haber created the next goal in the 32nd minute with his hard work in the corner to the left of goal.  He had possession, then lost possession, then won it back through hard graft and turned the ball over to Knight who put a high cross into the box.  What happened next was very controversial.  The keeper went up and clearly had both hands on the ball when Gkeke jumped up, hit the keeper shoulder to shoulder, causing the keeper to throw the ball into his own net.  Remarkably, since it seemed as though the keeper was in his own six yard box, the ref let the goal stand.   Gbeke never actually made contact with the ball from what I can see, but he challenged legitimately for the ball and hit the keeper shoulder to shoulder.  Nine refs out of ten would have called it a foul, but there was an argument to be made that it was a legitimate shoulder challange. Miami were understandably furious…  We were rather lucky to go into the dressing room 2-1 to the good.

The second half saw the introduction of Marlon James who has been out through injury of late.  James looked great out there and the team was lifted by his strength and skill up front.   We pushed and pushed and scored in the 76th when Gbeke flicked a header which took a funny bounce off of Reda, who knew nothing about it, into the goal.   Credit to Reda for timing his own run perfectly, however.

Miami at this point were down to 10 men, having had a player sent off at the stroke of half-time.  All credit to them for scoring another goal off of a free kick.  The direct kick hit the crossbar and fell to an alert Perdomo who headed home to make it 3-2 .

The next significant event was the fight between Charles and Gbeke.  I don’t know who started it, but it was a disgraceful loss of team discipline that Thordarson will have to deal with.  Happy teams do not have this kind of incident, and things like this occur when there is a power struggle between groups of players in the dressing room.  Captain Nash will have to sort it all out with the Coach.

It was a very entertaining match with plenty of chances at both ends, and endless, if bizarre,  drama. While we won the game we were a bit on the lucky side.  Our defence is still leaky.  We are giving up goals at an unhealthy rate.    Miami had a few more opportunities in front of goal-at least two of which were unmarked headers-so the result could have been embarrassing.  Our 2009 team is still very much a work in progress.

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