Reflections on a mixed football weekend

April 3, 2016 at 7:59 pm | Posted in General Football, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps 2016, Whitecaps Season 2016 | 3 Comments
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The events of the recent weekend in Vancouver football represent a real watershed in Canadian sport history. Friday night’s Canada-Mexico World Cup qualifying fixture at BC place set a record for attendance for any sporting event in Canada. I believe another record must have been set for the greatest number of Mexicans at a Canadian football fixture. More than a third of the huge crowd of 54,000 plus were either Mexican nationals or expatriates. I met a fellow had made his way up from Mexico City to watch his nation’s team play. I said to him “may the best team lose”.

Unfortunately for us Canadians the best team won. Mexico put on a sparkling footballing clinic which demonstrated how far behind Canada still is as a Soccer nation (although with Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan’s display Canadian goalkeeping is doing just fine). Any illusion we held that Canada might make the World Cup finals in Russia was put to rest. Though Canada started the match brightly, and squandered a couple of early chances, their ponderous methods were soon easily figured out by the Mexican team. Canada rarely got possession of the ball thereafter, a trend which continued for the rest of the match. By contrast, Mexico moved the ball very quickly in a fluid fashion, and were able to get behind the Canadian fullbacks (especially De Jong, who really struggled to keep up) with intelligent ball movement. The sheer predictability of Canada’s ball movement meant Canada was limited to pinging the ball around in their own end, meaning they only got one weak shot on Mexico’s goal in the second half. Frankly, in terms of football intelligence and ability Mexico got an A and Canada got a D.

The following evening at BC Place Major League Soccer served up prosaic stuff, as the clash with the international break meant that both the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Houston Dynamo were missing top players to international duty.  The Whitecaps were missing four starters. There was a muted environment in BC place as a much smaller crowd, the majority of whom had been at BC Place the night before, showed signs of tiredness or hangover. Neither Vancouver nor Houston could demonstrate the glittering football that Mexico did the previous night.

The match was decided by a dubious penalty when Vancouver’s Japanese striker Kudo went down in the box after a slight tug on his jersey from a Houston defender while he was trying to get to a far post cross he never was going to reach. It was yet another incredible call from an MLS official, and it decided the match. Poor officiating often does in MLS play. Pedro Morales dispatched his fourth penalty of the season and Whitecaps Coach Carl Robinson was content to cautiously see out this poor match with a 1-0 victory. To make the whole story even more bizarre the MLS disciplinary committee then gave Kudo a ban for diving later on in the week.

The Saturday night match proved the folly of not stopping MLS play for international fixtures. It really feels like MLS is biting the hand that feeds it when fans pay good money to see their MLS teams play a clearly diminished standard of football due to the absence of its best players for international duty. MLS games are worth watching when teams have their full strength squads available, but once two or three top players are missing from squads, a lot of MLS teams become quite dull to watch.

While I have always praised MLS for trying out new ideas in the very conservative sport of football, continuing MLS play while its best players are absent for international duty is a poor idea. MLS fans are sophisticated enough to see the difference in the football we watch.  MLS fans deserve to see the best players playing for their teams, and anything less shows us disrespect.



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  1. You are the best commentator on soccer in Vancouver. The local press has nothing on you.
    The MLS is rapidly becoming something of a joke. Why would I, as a season ticket holder, pay all the money I do to watch poor refereeing spoil the games and then wait with baited breath for the Damn Disco to further muddy the waters? Such bloody nonsense. However, keep up the great work, sunshine…

  2. Please surrender/release this address. Its basically parked cos of your ONE dated and rather pointless post. I’d make proper use of the address Click

    • Wossermarrer?

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