Vancouver Whitecaps 2 NSC Minnesota Stars 0

April 12, 2010 at 5:28 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2010 | 2 Comments

A sluggish Sunday afternoon at Swangard Stadium saw in the Whitecaps’ first game of the season. It was a 4 PM kickoff, one of six games to kickoff at that time this season.  I am not too happy with this. I prefer the evening start times. In any event, a footy match is a footy match.

This game was a typical early season game at this level of play.  The players looked unfit and less than sharp, especially in the first half.  The game was very shapeless at first, and it looked like a bunch of guys kicking a ball around in the park rather than a professional football match.   The first half went by with little incident, though our new centre back Greg Janicki hit our own goal post with what was supposed to be a clearance.    He was fine after we reminded him of the direction he was supposed to be playing!  He is new so we understand…

Our back line looked fit but I fear that neither Jancki nor Akwari were any good at either carrying the ball upfield or passing it through the midfield.   Other defenders we have had in the past such as Rick Titus, Chris Franks and Wesley Charles (who watched the game from the Southside) were able to make intelligent passes out of the back leading to counter attacks.  From this game, I fear our center backs will just be kicking the ball out all season.  I hope I am wrong.  Left Back Zurab (I won’t try to spell his last name) looked very fit and  tough.  He did not get forward to put crosses in like Hirano however, so we will have to see who starts when Hirano is fit again.

The second half  was much better for the Caps. Wes Knight looked great, and got forward well, though he tended to waste the ball dribbling when a cross was called for.  Nizar Khalfan in particular looked very intense and fit when he came on as a substitute for Knight.

There was a skinny guy playing in midfield called Martin Nash, who seems to be benefiting from an off season diet and fitness program.  What’s more, his crosses were looking very deadly indeed, both pacey and accurate.  One such cross by Nash off of a free kick deep in Minnesota territory in the 62nd minute was deflected in by the head of Luca Belissimo from about six yards out for the Whitecaps first goal.   I can’t recall Belissimo scoring previously, so he must be feeling pretty happy.  He had to fight off a defender to score so he did well to even get his head on the ball.  The Cross was driven in so hard by Nash I would not be surprised if Bellisimo has a concussion…

The Whitecaps looked the better team in the second half, testing Minny keeper Warren often.  Warren came in when starting keeper Crayton went down injured just before the end of the first half.  Warren looked a bit cold and had some handling problems with a couple of crosses.  He was lucky not to be punished on his mistakes.

The Whitecaps second goal was a lovely passing play between Marlon James, and Nizar Khalfan in the 76th minute.  These two completely took apart Minny’s defence with passes along the ground and James ultimately had a simple tap in from close range from Khalfan’s low pass.   I hope this is a sign of things to come!  I think Khalfan earned a starting position for the next game.  We will have to find a way to get both Knight and Khalfan on the pitch at the same time.

Minnesota had lots of players from the Thunder era including Menyonger, Tarley and Keeper Warren, whom we have been dishing out abuse to for about ten seasons or so now!   He is a good sport and takes it all with a sense of humour.   Minny played like a team that was getting to know one another, and I must say their uniforms are a  pretty awful yellow…  To their credit they gave the Caps a game, and I hope this team is a success.  I always liked the Thunder and admired them for playing on in spite of the fact they had little or no money for years.   Minnesota has always been a pretty good soccer town even back in the NASL days when the Minnesota Kicks were well supported.

Once we get striker Haber back from West Brom, defender Hirano back from injury, and midfielder Steele back from injury I think we could be a real force to be reckoned with.   The squad looks very strong indeed, when you consider Moose, Khalfan and Sanchez came in off of the bench.

Now if only we could get the centre backs to pass the ball well…  Rick Titus, where are you?

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2 Comments »

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  1. I thought our back line were solid yesterday, though you’re right about the lack of passing. We rarely if ever passed up through the middle, instead moving to the wide areas of the pitch, using our speedy wingers. But with Nash and Bellisumo, we didn’t have any midfielders really joining the attack so it was either failed dribbles or crosses to strikers that didn’t get to them.
    Zurab looked great at left back, I thought, very solid defending and decent passing moving forward. It’s a trade-off with Hirano’s attacking, because Hirano often left his wing open and doesn’t have the speed to recover so much anymore.
    James looked good, could have had another goal. Orgill had little impact, and Edwini-Bonsu needs more time on the ball before he’s a starter. We really missed Haber
    I really enjoyed the afternoon kick-off. I loved the sun on my face, watching the game in a t-shirt.

  2. A well written article. This, Minnesota isn’t quite my home but I am here for the time being so when the White Caps come this way, I will make sure I am there.


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