Vancouver Whitecaps 0 Seattle Sounders 0

March 8, 2010 at 2:24 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2010 | 6 Comments

Yesterday the Seattle Sounders came to town for a pre-season exhibition match at Swangard Stadium.  Well, it was a bit of a bore draw really.  Though there were a few good chances on either side, no one scored. Watching a 0-0 draw in football is always a bit of a disappointment.   Seattle got one into the net but an over-eager linesman put his flag up for offside.   This spared us a few blushes because we were caught ball-watching and motionless as an unmarked Seattle player easily headed a long cross  in the net at the far post.   This lapse notwithstanding,  we saw Janicki and Akwari for the first time as a central defensive pairing, and they defended well.   They gave up a few chances, but a clean sheet is a clean sheet.  It was great to see Wesley Charles come on as a sub later on for Akwari.  He played well at the back too, so we can only hope that our central defensive troubles are at an end. Last year we leaked so many goals down the middle it was embarrassing.

The Whitecaps held their own, and did not look inferior to Seattle, though I would have to give Seattle the edge in quality on the day.    The Whitecaps have a long history of standing up well to MLS competition, and last night was no exception.

It was clear that players on both sides were a bit rusty and less than match fit.   There was not a lot of flowing football, and most of the play took place stubbornly in the middle of the field.   Seattle brought an absolutely massive bench with them: their players and staff formed a huge crowd on the sidelines.

The most remarkable thing to observe at the match was off of the pitch: the cultural shift in Seattle football.  When the Sounders were in our league they would bring with them 30 to 50 or so supporters when they visited.  There were three to four hundred yesterday and it is clear Sounders supporters have developed a proper football culture with organized chants, percussion,  and colours.  Frankly, they outdid the Whitecaps supporters and it was more like a Seattle home game (Ok, but at least we won the Olympic hockey Gold… Twice!!!).   The manner in which Seattle has taken to MLS is nothing short of incredible, and all credit must go to the owners who have clearly done a wonderful job of marketing the team.   The level of fan participation and organization is clearly excellent and we have seen nothing like it before at a Whitecaps game.  The amount of electric green in the crowd was impressive and it was amusing to listen to the American accents outside of the stadium before the match.

Once we get started in MLS there will be a fantastic rivalry and a culture of travelling to away matches in both Seattle and Portland.   This could be the beginning of a proper football culture in the Pacific Northwest.

It was great to see Freddie Ljungberg play.  The former Arsenal stalwart was in fine form and fitness from the looks of the match yesterday.    Like many exceptional footballers, Freddie has a bizarre body shape, and doesn’t really look very athletic, unlike some of Seattle’s defensive players, who looked like superb athletes.  He has short legs and a long upper body, and runs crouched forward in an odd posture.  He has amazing speed and canine-like instincts for where the ball is going to go, which is what makes him a very effective player indeed.   His intelligent anticipation is what gives him the edge in speed over other players.

It was fun to get reacquainted  with the Southside crowd and to get back into the humour on a wonderfully sunny day.    All that was missing was a couple of goals.

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6 Comments »

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  1. Sad to have missed it, but thanks for the recap. How was our attack? I’m pretty nervous with our front line, especially considering James is already hurt.

  2. I’m new to your blog, but was at the match on Saturday and think this was a great write-up. One thing you didn’t cover, though, was the Whitecaps forward line, which you could be excused for forgetting about because it seemed non-existent. I couldn’t see anyone stepping into the roles Gbeke and Haber finally managed to get themselves into towards the end of last season. It looks like we could struggle a bit for goals again this year. Glad to see Hirano’s still making opportunities up the left side. Janicki did a great job of neutralizing Ljungberg – and Ljungberg was clearly getting a bit pissed off with it by the end!

  3. There really was nothing to speak of up front at all. I can’t believe Marlon James is already crocked. He is superb when he is fit, however, so lets hope for the best.

  4. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your blog. Great writing and I especially liked the “games in my travels’ section, very well written. Good luck to the Whitecaps and their fans for the 2010 season. I write for the AC St. Louis Fanatic blog, also on wordpress, in case any of your readers want to keep up on our new team. Keep up the fine work, and another thanks to all in Vancouver who were part of such an exciting and compelling Olympic Winter Games.

    • Gerry, what calibre team do you guys have in St. Louis? Do you expect to compete with the bigger teams in the league, or is this strictly a year to gain experience?

  5. Hm hm.. that’s very interessting but to be honest i have a hard time determining it… wonder what others have to say..


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