Reo Coker switch makes all the difference

March 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 2 Comments

The Vancouver Whitecaps won the first match of the 2013 season 1-0 against Toronto FC. Before the match there was tremendous excitement in the air and a festival atmosphere helped along by the playing of teh song “White is the Colour”, recorded by the Vancouver Whitecaps in 1978. The song was accompanied by footage of the 1978 team which brought back a lot of great memories from that time.

With all of the speculation about who would play there were a number of surprises, in particular the fact that Camilo Sanvezzo was on the bench while rookie Kekuta Manneh was preferred. Mattocks started up front, with the trio of Manneh, Miller and Kobayashi behind him. Backing them up were defensive midfielders Koffie and Davidson. There was great joy in seeing Joe Cannon starting in goal, with a strong back line of Lee, DeMerit, OBrien and, finally, Rochat, back where he belongs at left back.

Back at it!

Back at it!

DeMerit did not last long, unfortunately. Within a few minutes he was prone on the pitch and had to be helped off. The towering Brad Rusin came on to replace him and proved to be a reliable understudy, as we all asked why Rennie would take the risk to play the injured DeMerit in the first place.

Manneh and Kobayashi did not play well and were switched by Rennie half way through the first half so that Manneh was on the right and Kobayashi was on the left. This did not work either, and the prematch excitement soon fizzled as the Whitecaps were as flat as a pancake for virtually the whole first half. They were lucky to slump into the dressing room with a goalless draw. TFC failed to take advantage of the Whitecaps poor form in spite of winning a number of corner kicks and free kicks in dangerous areas.

Rusin to the rescue...

Rusin to the rescue…

At half time Nigel Reo-Coker started warming up and it became clear that he would be coming on. Rennie took Manneh off, put Reo-Coker on, and the Whitecaps immediately became better. Reo-Coker’s class showed through right away as he set up some fine moves on the right side with his vision and with his heads up play. Nigel’s presence spread confidence throughout the squad on the pitch. Whereas Manneh seemed to be trying to play TFC all by himself, Reo-Coker made the Whitecaps play like a team. From my perspective it was Reo Coker’s arrival that changed the match in the Whitecaps favour. He should start the next game.

The Whitecaps lone goal came from a wonderful passing play which started with some quick passes between Lee and Miller, after lee gathered a knock-down by Mattocks. The two veterans cut TFC’s defence open with a quick one-two, after which Lee found Kobayashi. Kobayashi took one touch to put the ball to the surging Koffie at the top of the box. Koffie took two touches to score from 12 yards. It was a fantastic move which brought the crowd to its feet.

Kobayashi gave way to Hurtado half way through the second half. Hurtado and had a golden chance to score but ruined the chance when he took an extra touch after hesitating.

While the Caps won the match, the biggest question on the night was obvious: why did Camilo sit for the entire match? Neither Hurtado or Manneh brought anything close to the quality Camilo does on the pitch. There must be a serious rift between Camilo and Rennie. Camilo won this quarrel, however, as his replacements only proved that Camilo should have started, and at the very least, should have played some part in the match. I feel the Whitecaps would have had another goal at least if Camilo was played.

Why didn't he play?

Why didn’t he play?

While I hate to praise the enemy, it was great to see Terry Dunfield in Vancouver again, starting for TFC. I will never forget his goal against TFC back on the opening day of the 2011 season. It was also a pleasure to watch Hogan Eprahaim play for TFC. He is clearly an excellent footballer. What a great touch on the ball he has.

The news came later that Montreal had gone to Seattle and beaten the Sounders one-nil, making it a perfect day for the Whitecaps and their fans.


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  1. Good summary Bruce, just the way I saw the game too.

  2. I’m theorizing here, but my best guess is that Rennie wanted to see if Manneh and Hurtado really were ready for prime time – and who better to try them out against than a hapless and hopeless TFC side that will take at least another month or so to gel? I suspect, too, that the original plan was to have Camilo enter the match in the second half, but the early injury left Rennie with only two late subs. Reo-Coker was much needed to settle the side, and to show some leadership, and Hurtado was the better option for Kobayashi at the 74th minute, simply on speed. I think we’ll see Camilo back in as a starter vs Columbus, while Manneh moves to the bench.

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