Ok, now I am really depressed. JJ will not play for the Caps in 2009. I have always had a soft spot for JJ because he is one of those few players who can produce moments of magic on the pitch, and we witnessed a lot of them from him over the years. He is a naturally gifted player who had tremendous speed and the ability to turn and beat defenders. Such was his prowess that he was marked by two defenders, sometimes three, a situation he dealt with confidently. He had the ability to run alone up front and to get open, receive the ball, and hold it while the rest of the team caught up.
A couple of years ago he sustained some nasty injuries. He got “turf toe” playing on Portland’s compacted field turf, which kept him out of action for a long time. He also, if I am correct, had fragile ankles, both of which needed to be operated on. He had the tendency to put on weight, but it never really seemed to affect his speed.
Players who are getting a bit older get a bit slower. Because they are slower they take more knocks and get injured. Then they get unfit because they are injured. Then they get injured trying to come back from other injuries. They lose match fitness and look slow on their return. This is the vicious cycle of the older player who is prone to injuries. Poor JJ fell into this cycle this year.
His best year was 2005 in which he won the league MVP, scoring at will.
JJ was very loyal to his team and his family, turning down an offer to join the Colorado Rapids of the MLS to stay with the team.
In the quarter finals against Minnesota this year JJ put the ball through for Justin Moose to score in the 89th minute, demonstrating he still had the touch. That goal turned out to be crucial in getting us through to the semi finals.
When you look at his performance it is hard to think of a player who has played better for the club over the years for both the Caps and the 86ers.
Thanks for the great memories JJ! You will be sorely missed.
Now that the shock had faded and the reality has sunk in that Steve Kindel, Alfredo Valente and Jeff Clarke are gone from our team, I want to pay tribute to these players who have been at the heart of our team for so long.
First of all I would like to praise them for their dedication. These guys gave their all for the 86ers and the Whitecaps. None of these guys shirked any responsibilities on the pitch. They stuck with the team through the lean years when it looked like the whole thing would collapse when the team was taken into administration by the league.
Each one of these guys scored fantastic goals for the club, and sitting here now I can picture fantastic goals scored by each one of them. Each one of these guys created great goals for other players to score, and it is fitting that Clarke’s last goal for the club against Montreal in the semi-final was set up by a pass from Steve Kindel.
Steve Kindel was agitator #1 for the Whitecaps and always got under the skin of the opposite team, especially Andrew Gregor of the Sounders. He played with his heart on his sleeve and always fought like a lion for the team.
Jeff Clarke was more of a cool character, an intelligent holding midfielder and central defender with a fine touch for passing the ball. Jeff also did work in the community and is a decent human being, which is far more important than being a good footballer, lets face it.
Valente was as fast as a rocket and had a habit of scoring and creating spectacular goals. He was a bit unfocussed and inconsistent at times but he was a superb player for us when he was on, which was most games.
All of these guys played the game as it was meant to be played, and were great friends off of the pitch as well.
I hope there is a peaceful reconciliation between these players and the club because they brought us two championships and gave us a lot of joy with their play. They should be honored by the club for the great players they have been.
Again, thanks from the fans to Steve Kindel, Jeff Clarke and Alfredo Valente.
Clarke, Kindel, Valente, Leslie, Kambere, Baldock, Jarun, Addlerey, Sebrango… All gone. Nine players from the championship side. It all makes you wonder if Jason Jordan is next. I hope not because I would love to see him play again if only he can get fit. Go to the gym JJ!!!
The Province broke the story of the year end meeting which caused the split between the trio and Thordarson. Apparently issues and complaints had arisen during the year which were expressed again by the players at a year end meeting.
Sadly, it looks a bit like 1979 when the Caps won the championship and then the players and management fell out over bonus payments. The NASL gave bonuses for winning, but the team failed to match the bonuses, which was the tradition in England, or so the story goes. A huge fight broke out and the team was just not the same in the 1980 season, with Ball and Willie Johnston leaving part way through the season.
This time the Caps all got generous bonuses from the team, but still fell out! To the fan it all looks very odd considering the team did so well. We won the playoff championship and missed out on the points championship by one point. What is to complain about? Clearly Thordarson’s methods paid off, though he nearly threw it all away in the quarter final against Minnesota with some reckless substitutions.
I find it very odd indeed that the trio who had been through a number of managers and owners including the very difficult Coach Bob Lilley could not take Thordarson’s methods. It would be great to find out what the disagreement or the actual philosophical differences were… I am sure it will come out eventually, but for now it is all very unsatisfying…