Farewell Hirano

November 3, 2010 at 4:50 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2010 | Leave a comment

I had it on inside information at least a month ago that Takashi Hirano would no longer be with the Whitecaps.  A good friend of mine ran into him on the street and used his Japanese language skills to get it out of Taka that he would not be coming back. The club made it official today that “lefty Monster” would not be returning.

The problem with Taka is age.   Taka is 36 and too old to make the transition from USSF-Division 2 to MLS.  You can’t seriously expect to make next year’s MLS squad when you are a fringe player coming in off of the bench occasionally in the USSF-Division 2, as Taka did in 2010.

Whatever the cold hard facts are, one thing which is for sure is that we really loved having Taka on our team.   He is a great lad, and gave his all for the team.  There is no questioning his loyalty and commitment to the Whitecaps.  He did his job at left back in an earnest and hard working fashion which I think is best described as classically Japanese.

Hirano has been here for three seasons and was in the glorious squad of 2008.   My intelligence tells me Hirano will now retire from the game, but apparently is planning to stick around town and possibly settle here in beautiful Vancouver, BC Canada.  He is such a great guy we can only hope he will do just that.

So long Taka, good luck to you in life, and thanks for the great footballing memories!

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Whitecaps Show Nash The Respect He Deserves

October 28, 2010 at 3:41 am | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps In MLS, Whitecaps Season 2010 | Leave a comment

When the Whitecaps held a press conference to announce the signing of coach Teitur Thordarson, I criticized the club for having its CEO, Paul Barber, its President, Bobby Lenarduzzi and its Head Coach, Teitur Thordarson,  show up dressed like bums: https://whitecapsfan.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/whitecaps-press-conference-poor-showing-for-club/.  I am happy to see the club has improved its image in the photos of Marty Nash’s retirement announcement.   Nash and Thordarson looked particularly smart in matching suits and ties, and even West Coast casual king Bob Lenarduzzi wore a tie!

By dressing its leaders properly, the club demonstrates self-respect, and most importantly, has demonstrated respect for Martin Nash, arguably the greatest player of the Vancouver Whitecaps second era.   Well done, Whitecaps!  I’ll bet you the always smartly dressed Rachel Lewis was behind that…

Goodbye Martin…Hello Nash…

October 28, 2010 at 3:16 am | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps In MLS, Whitecaps Season 2010 | Leave a comment

The tough news to take today was that one of our greatest heroes is retiring.  Martin Nash, who has contributed so much for the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club over his three stints with the club, has decided to hang up the boots as a player and move on to a new stage of his football career as a coach in the Whitecaps residency program.

This was a wise move by both Marty and the Whitecaps.  Marty has had a brilliant career, and has been one of the defining players of the Vancouver Whitecaps second era, which began in 2001.   Marty returned to the club in 2004, and, for me, no player has been a greater benefit to the club than Marty Nash.    At the age of 34, while I am confident Marty would have made the Whitecaps MLS squad on merit, when you turn 35 it is a bit too much to expect to be chasing 23 year olds around in midfield.  If he was 27 or 28, fine.  At 35? No!

The MLS is a physically demanding league, and it is clear if Nash made the team he would probably be a squad player and not a starter.  I don’t think this would suit Marty, who seldom missed a match in his time here, usually playing out the entire 90 minutes of every game.   When you are not playing regular competitive football, you lose fitness, and then you are liable to pick up injuries when you do get to play.  This is not a cycle that Marty should have to go through, and he did the right thing to quit at the right time.

Marty commanded the midfield in his time with the Whitecaps and often carried the team and us fans on his shoulders.   A coaches’ dream, Marty never failed to give his all and lead the team.   Marty crashed in many a goal in his time with us, including a few spectacular long range efforts.  Marty racked up plenty of championships in the USL-1, including two for us in 2006 and 2008.  It is hard to imagine winning those championships without him. Marty provided great success and joy on the pitch for the Vancouver Whitecaps, but also honourably served the Canadian men’s national team, including winning the 2000 Gold Cup with Canada. In terms of the national program, it was the best moment in its history behind qualifying and playing in the 1986 World Cup.

It should be clear by now to all that the Nash family is a family of born leaders, who have and will leave a great legacy both in the field of sports and elsewhere.   Marty will now take his leadership skills and use them in coaching players in the residency program. I have no doubt he will be a tremendous success there; he will inspire young players who will excel in Major League Soccer.  I cannot think of a better leader and role model for young players than Martin Nash.

It is regrettable Marty had to retire when he did, just as the Whitecaps are going to gain a huge amount of exposure more than they did during Marty’s time with the club.   While all of the newbie fans in the MLS era may ask “who?” when the name Martin Nash is spoken, those of us who watched him play will be able to tell the story of a great player who gave so much football joy to those who had the honour of watching him.

Luckily for us fans, it is a case of goodbye Martin, hello Nash.  Nash is staying with the club, and the Vancouver Whitecaps should be praised for giving him a role with the club he so richly deserves.

Poor Substitutions Sink Whitecaps

October 18, 2010 at 4:27 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2010 | 3 Comments

The Vancouver Whitecaps last season at Swangard Stadium came to an end in a semi-final defeat to the Puerto Rico Islanders.  We lost 0-2 in the two leg semi to the Islanders, who got their revenge for the 2008 championship loss to the Whitecaps.

The Puerto Rico Islanders have had a bit of a leaky season in defence, but you would not have known it  tonight as they were very well organized at the back.

The Whitecaps were the better team and were playing extremely well until the last third of the game when two crucial substitutions were made: Chiumiento came in for Mobulu, and Edwini-Bonsu came in for Porter.  Neither substitution worked, and the team lost all shape and balance from that point on.   I have to say, neither Mobulu nor Porter were injured and both were playing well.  It was a mistake to take them off.

Edwini-Bonsu was matched with a giant defender almost twice his size and did not create one chance for himself.  He lost the ball several times where he shouldn’t and seemed to have the wrong boots on, slipping several times at key moments.  Chiumineto was totally ineffectual, and the team really lost shape on the left side, and neglected to use the width of the field.  The Whitecaps were trying to play the ball down the middle, and the packed PRI defence had no real difficulty in dealing with the Whitecaps, who ran out of ideas.

I can understand why Thordarson brought Chiumiento and Edwini-Bonsu on:  he was hoping to break through the Islanders defence with Edwini-Bonsu’s speed and with Chiumiento’s dribbling skills.  Both plans failed miserably as the subs just failed to perform.  It was farcical towards the end of the match when we were pumping high balls into the box towards these two short guys while they were completely dominated by huge PRI defenders.

Tonight’s loss demonstrated what the Whitecaps have been missing all year: a good target man up front.  While Mobulu looks to have potential, what we needed this year was a man with ex-Whitecap Jason Jordan’s abilities: a striker who could keep the ball and finish with deadly accuracy.   Last year we could not defend, this year we could not score.

The ironic thing tonight was the Whitecaps were sunk by Whitecaps old boy Nick Addlery, whom I used to complain about constantly when he was here.

Puerto Rico played the perfect away game, defending well and waiting patiently for the chance they needed.  Whereas I hate to see the Whitecaps lose, I admire the way the Islanders have played football for a number of years now and I hope they beat Carolina in the final.

The Puerto Rico Islanders deserve to win.

I took a lot of photos tonight of all of the people I have enjoyed supporting the 86ers and Whitecaps with.  While we are on to bigger and better things, I will miss Swanny, and all of the great people in the Southside.  Thanks to all of you! I will post some photos in the coming days and include my reflections on Swangard Stadium.

On to MLS in 2011!

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