Camilo Stars in YP Lee send-off party

October 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2013 | Leave a comment
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What a night!  It started as a bore and ended in a glorious 3-0 win over the playoff-bound Colorado Rapids. With the Whitecaps out of the playoffs, the big stories in this last match of the season were whether Camilo could win the Golden Boot and whether we could all stop ourselves from crying during YP Lee’s farewell. The answer to the first question was yes, and the answer to the second question was no.

Lee's last match: Thank-you YP Lee!

Lee’s last match: Thank-you YP Lee!

Early in this match there was a sense that this was a bit of a friendly or a testimonial match. It was not clear if Colorado were going to simply play not to get injured or if they would try to pip Seattle for the right to play the play-in match at home. It can’t be said they did not try, however, especially their goalkeeper Irwin, who put on a spectacular show early to deny two sure goals from Camilo. With Camilo being robbed in this fashion and also missing a free kick by a mile, it looked like the Golden Boot would escape the wee Brazilian.

Little Kekuta Manneh looked like a giant on the pitch early on, and it is clear that his spectacular success of late has given him an enormous boost of confidence. He was running about the pitch with the swagger of Camilo. Colorado struggled with his pace, and it was a pacey run into the box by Manneh that drew a penalty just before half time. With the golden boot on the line was there any doubt it would be Camilo to take it? Camilo dispatched the penalty with a blast straight down the middle that Irwin barely saw. Camilo duly presented the ball to YP Lee as a gift. It was a nice touch. With this strike, Camilo was on 20 goals, one strike below Chicago’s Mike Magee.

Going into the dressing room for the half-time, the Whitecaps goal was clear: get Camilo the Golden Boot. The whole Whitecaps team got behind the cause.

In the 74th minute Camilo got the ball on the left side of Colorado’s goal. He cut inside to shoot with his right foot, and two Colorado defenders moved to block the shot; it was just a fake, though, as Camilo put the ball through one of the defender’s legs to put himself in on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat. The little guy put the ball expertly next to Irwin and into the net. It was a superb goal which won Camilo the Golden Boot. Though he was even now with Magee, he had more assists than the Chicago man, meaning Camilo had won the Golden Boot.

The naked guy won the Golden Boot

The naked guy won the Golden Boot

The Brazilian was not satisfied with a tie on goals, however, and thanks to a lovely lofted volley pass from Russell Teibert, Camilo was again in on the keeper by himself, hitting a fantastic volley next to Irwin into the net in the 84th minute. What had started out as a tame affair had turned into a night that was very special for a number of reasons.

While the big stories were elsewhere, 18 year old Canadian Sam Adekugbe made his first team debut at left back, replacing the suspended Jordan Harvey. Adekugbe fit right into the team, and impressed with his maturity, fitness, pace and strength. There was nothing about him to say this was his first match. What a joy to see the Whitecaps bring a young Canadian player into the first team. I had been despairing that we were weak at full back now YP Lee is retiring, but it appears that as one great career is ending, another one might just be beginning: Adekugbe is the real thing.

DeMerit presents the Cascadia Cup

DeMerit presents the Cascadia Cup

Coach Martin Rennie did the right thing and substituted YP Lee in the 90th minute so the crowd could give him a standing ovation. Just about everyone in a Whitecaps jersey hugged him before he left the pitch, and even the ref felt he had to shake his hand. The crowd chanted “YP Lee, YP Lee”! It was a beautiful moment.

What really impressed me is that nearly half the crowd stuck around after the game for half an hour to see the players do a lap with YP Lee thanking the fans. It appears that the Whitecaps are building real loyalty and an emotional connection with people in Vancouver.

Vancouver Whitecaps fans should be proud of themselves for giving football legend YP Lee the send-off he deserved.

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