AFTN’s Vancouver Whitecaps End Of Season Awards – 2015

AFTN’s Vancouver Whitecaps End Of Season Awards – 2015

Another year over and another year of improvement for Vancouver Whitecaps, but they still have a long way to go to lift a MLS Cup.

There is some silverware in the ‘Caps trophy cabinet, with their first ever Voyageurs Cup, but the Cascadia Cup has headed back down south. There were hopes of a quintuple, but in the end it was one singular trophy but a lot to be proud of along the way and a lot to build upon in 2016.

So it’s that time again to look back at the best and the worst, the highs and the lows, and the joys and annoyances from the Caps’ 2015 season.

Don’t agree with some (or all) of our choices? Great! Let us know who would have got your votes in the comments below.

And catch up with our choices from previous years:

2011 awards / 2012 awards / 2013 awards / 2014 awards

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AFTN WHITECAPS PLAYER OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: DAVID OUSTED – The Dane was basically the reason that the ‘Caps finished where they did, with a string of crucial point winning and point saving stops throughout the year. With 15 clean sheets during the year (13
for the second successive regular season, one in the playoffs and one in the Canadian Championship) his importance is clear. He knows it. The ‘Caps know it. He’ll be back for next season but no deal has been done yet for a contract extension. Whatever he’s looking for, they need to pay it.

Runner-up: Cristian Techera Our outfield Player of the Year for sure. After coming to Vancouver in April, Techera showed exceptional qualities during the second half of the season. Finished the year with 7 goals and 5 assists, second on the team in each category. He’s just finding his feet in MLS and we have high hopes of what next season will bring from The Bug.

2014 winner: Pedro Morales
2013 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo
2012 winner: Joe Cannon
2011 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo

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AFTN WHITECAPS YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: TIM PARKER – When pretty much the whole first team, USL side and Residency qualify for this award, it’s a tough one! We could have given it to Techera. He’s only 23 after all. But since he’s an old man in the squad, we went with a player a year younger. Parker excelled in his rookie season. The best performing first year draftee the ‘Caps have taken. Dislodging a wily veteran and a player brought in from South America as a first choice centre back along the way, Parker finished the season as the ‘Caps starter alongside Kendall Waston and the position is his to lose moving forward. He didn’t look out of place or a rookie in his 17 MLS appearances, all but one of them a start. Also grabbed the ‘Caps first ever CONCACAF Champions League goal. Composed and confident, the best is yet to come from the New Yorker.

2014 winner: Matias Laba
2013 winner: Kekuta Manneh
2012 and 2011 winner: Caleb Clarke

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WHITECAPS GOAL OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: GERSHON KOFFIE v RSL (30/5/15 – 2-1 home win)

There were a number of cracking goals this year, a lot of them from defenders, but this has pretty much been the unanimous winner overall. What a strike. We just need him to do these things a lot more often. If he’s still here next year that is, which we don’t expect him to be!

2014 winner: Erik Hurtado v Seattle (24/5/14)
2013 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo v Portland (6/10/13)
2012 winner: Darren Mattocks v Toronto (11/7/12)
2011 winner: Eric Hassli v Seattle (11/6/11)

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WHITECAPS GAME OF THE SEASON :

WINNER: 2-0 HOME WIN v LA (04/04/15)

There wasn’t really a clear cut winner like previous years. We could have gone, of course, for the win over Montreal that clinched the Voyageurs Cup, just for what it meant. But that wasn’t actually that great a match and it was an understrength Impact side that headed west. The 2-1 win in New York in June was exciting, with two Ousted penalty saves, but the ‘Caps basically struggled against a ten man Red Bulls.

In the end, we went for the dominant 2-0 win against LA. It felt like a coming of age win for Carl Robinson’s young side against the defending MLS champs. It was also one that sent the ‘Caps to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings for the first time, setting up a season where winning it wasn’t a far-fetched thought, but a real possibility.

2014 winner: v Seattle (10/10/14 – 1-0 Cascadia Cup clinching away win)
2013 winner: v Seattle (9/10/13 – 4-1 away thrashing of Sounders)
2012 winner: v San Jose Earthquakes (5/5/12 – 2-1 win at BC Place)
2011 winner: v Kansas City (2/4/11 – 3-3 draw at Empire Field)

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SAVE OF THE YEAR :

WINNER: DAVID OUSTED v PHILADELPHIA (09/05/15 – 3-0 home win) – So many great saves from the Dane this season, including three penalties, but this one just shades it. Did he know too much about it? Of course he did, he’ll tell you!

2014 winner: David Ousted v New England (22/3/14 – 0-0 away draw, MLS)
2013 winner: Marco Carducci double save v Victoria Highlanders (28/6/13 – Thunderbird Stadium, PDL)
No award in 2011 or 2012.

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WHITECAPS TO WATCH IN 2016:

WINNER: MARCO BUSTOS – The first two-time winner in this category. This could very well have been his first team breakthrough year but an early season injury derailed Marco’s progress. When he did return, to USL action, he showed what he is capable of with 7 goals, 2 assists and a string of strong performances. Expect more MLS minutes for Bustos next season and that breakthrough year we’re all hoping for. No pressure!

Runner-up: Ben McKendry – Another player hindered by injury this season. After signing his first pro contract in January with MLS homegrown deal, McKendry started the USL season a little slow before finding his feet and really hitting his stride. Was expected to get minutes in the Canadian Championship and Champions League games before a season ending injury and an operation has left him waiting another year for his MLS debut. Robinson is a big fan of the BC native, telling us that within two years he expects McKendry to be the box to box midfielder the team will be needing.

3rd: Victor Blasco – Carl Robinson likes what the Spaniard could bring to the MLS squad but just needs to see it on a more consistent basis. Blasco looked good in the early going but once he got his first professional goal, he took his game up to another level, finishing the season with 4 goals and 6 assists. We expect him to get a look in the preseason camp before the ‘Caps monitor his progress during another season in the USL.

2014 winner: Marco Bustos
2013 winner: Sam Adekugbe
2012 winner: Ben Fisk
2011 winner: Caleb Clarke

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BEST PERFORMANCE BY A WHITECAP AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL:

WINNER: DARREN MATTOCKS (JAMAICA) – A new award for 2015, and added in late after some joking in the comments got me thinking. With the growing number of internationalists at the Whitecaps (at full, U23 and youth levels), it seems fitting to honour who has performed best for his country during the past year. And the winner of our inaugural award is Darren Mattocks.

Mattocks made 14 appearances for the Reggae Boyz in all international competitions in 2015. His six goals helped Jamaica reach the final of the Gold Cup and they also took part in the Copa America and advanced to the semi-final groups of the World Cup qualifying. If only he could have shown some of that form more regularly for Vancouver.

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HERO OF THE YEAR :

WINNER: PA MODOU KAH – We hated him at Portland, we love him in Vancouver. That’s football! We were big fans of what Andy O’Brien brought to the Whitecaps, both in the centre of the defence and in the locker room, but Kah has taken that up a level. A big calming and mentoring influence on Kekuta Manneh’s the pinnacle of Kah’s team spirit came when he bought the entire squad rings to celebrate the club’s first ever Canadian Championship win. Riding around and picking up a medal on a hover board also adds to his awesomeness!

2014 winner: Carl Robinson
2013 winner: Carl Robinson
2012 winner: Young-Pyo Lee
2011 winner: Joe Cannon

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VILLAIN OF THE YEAR :

WINNER: RICARDO SALAZAR– Refereeing in MLS felt worse than it was last year and that’s saying something. There were some terrible decisions throughout the league and a lot affecting the ‘Caps. Carl Robinson’s breaking point seemed to be reached with his epic rant after the loss in KC, but referee Ricardo Salazar’s inept performance in the late, late loss to NYC took the biscuit. He was lucky to get out of BC Place in one piece after awarding Frank Lampard as non a penalty as you could imagine. As the bottles rained down on his head postgame, he bizarrely was not disciplined by MLS or PRO.

2014 winner: Mark Geiger
2013 winner: Will Johnson
2012 winner: David Ferreira
2011 winner: Tommy Soehn

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TACKLE OF THE YEAR:

WINNER: MATIAS LABA (at MONTREAL 12/08/15) – Another back to back winner! It was one of those that you just couldn’t help sitting at home and screaming “what a tackle” out loud as soon as it happened. It was just such an involuntary reaction and coming with the scores all tied and approaching half time in the Canadian Championship final, a vitally important tackle to boot. Can he grab a hat-trick of wins on 2016? Let’s hope we have a few to pick from. You can watch it HERE.

2014 winner: Matias Laba (Home v Dallas 4/10/14)
2013 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker (at San Jose) {new award that year}

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MISS OF THE YEAR AWARD:

WINNER: KEKUTA MANNEH at SAN JOSE (03/10/15)
– No matter how many times you watch this, you still find yourself asking “how did he, or someone, not score that”. You’re in to stoppage time, you’re tied at 1-1. you need the three points to keep your Supporters Shield hopes alive, there’s second left and then a quick breakaway with the ball at the feet of Manneh on a 2 on 1 surge. What could possibly go wrong? A lot as it turned out. Thankfully not as costly as we feared at the time, but lucky it wasn’t. This one will likely still give Kekuta the sweats every time he thinks about it! (Watch below from the 3:20 mark)

Runner-up: Octavio Rivero (home v Toronto 07/03/2015) – Now we’re also going to include a runner-up here as it was very close to call between these two. Rivero’s First Kick miss made us wonder just what kind of player Carl Robinson had brought to the club. Mind you, one season on, we’re still wondering a little! This was a horror miss. Blame the turf! (watch below from 0:22 mark)

2014 winner: Darren Mattocks (Lifetime Achievement award)
2013 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker (v Columbus) {new award}

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BEST AWAYDAY :

WINNER: SEATTLE (3-0 win on 01/08/15) – Maybe we should just retire this award now. A Seattle awayday has won it for the third straight year. There’s just something about taking the absolute piss out of the Sounders in front of their own fans that will just never, ever get old. This 3-0 trouncing was magical though thanks to two fantastic goals from Pa Modou Kah and one hell of a free-kick from Pedro Morales. Sadly it was all downhill against our Cascadian rivals after these three points.

2014 winner Seattle (Cascadia Cup clinching 1-0 win – 10/10/14)
2013 winner: Seattle (Cascadia Cup clinching 4-1 win – 09/10/14)
2012 winner: Orlando (preseason Mickey Mouse Cup win!)
2011 winner: Portland (in general)

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MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT :

WINNER: PLAYOFF BLANKS – The ‘Caps worked so hard to get to the playoffs and to get that previously elusive home playoff game, which is why it was sad and disappointing to see them end the year with a whimper rather than a bang. No goals over two playoff legs against Portland. In the first they were facing a tired team that had just been through 120 plus minutes of football less than 72 hours ago. In the second they had nothing to offer after Manneh went down injured. Embarrassing? You could argue they came up against a tough Timbers side or that it’s harsh to call it that after what had been before, but to go out in such a weak way was poor and if the players weren’t embarrassed by the lack of fight they put up, then they should have been.

2014 winner: The Camilo Saga
2013 winner: Jun Marques Davidson’s headbutt against Philadelphia
2012 winner: Failure to beat TFC in three games
2011 winner: The Empire grass pitch debacle

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DISGRACE OF THE YEAR :

WINNER: MLS SCHEDULING – Just who comes up with the MLS schedule and who thought it was a good idea to schedule two crunch Vancouver clashes with Dallas during an international fixture window? The two top teams in the West, battling for Supporters’ Shield honours and missing top players to international duty. While we’re at it, with 20 teams in the league there is no reason whatsoever for teams to get bye weeks and then force teams to cram in less attended midweek matches. The ‘Caps end of season schedule was baffling. In a 22 day stretch between August 30th and September 19th, Vancouver played two MLS matches. Way to help a team’s rhythm. And they ended the regular season with two out of three midweek matches. WTF is up with all that? Someone needs to give their heads a serious shake.

2014 winner: Late “fans”
2013 winner: Losing the Voyageurs Cup by not having a man on the post
2012 winner: Sekeres and Price for reaction to “Fuck You Dallas” chant
2011 winner: TV coverage

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THINGS WE’D LOVE MLS TO CHANGE :

WINNER: THE STANDARD OF REFEREEING – Maybe this should be the other award we should retire, since this has won it four of the five years we’ve done these awards now. But man, it just never seems to get any better. In fact if anything the standard has regressed. Whether it’s awarding penalties that aren’t, ruling off goals, missing the point and foul completely, this year felt that the PRO refs had got even worse. Something need to be done to save Carl Robinson from blowing a gasket and having to fork over so much of his money to the fine fund.

Runner-up: Stop playing MLS games on international dates – (See above). It’s not hard. Fans want to see the best players turn out for their clubs. It devalues the league to have crunch games like Dallas v Vancouver played with so many players away on international duty. There are so many other alternative dates. It’s beyond ridiculous now and if frankly embarrassing.

3rd: Reward academy players who show promise – I’d love to see MLS fall into line with leagues and clubs around the world when it comes to rewarding academy talent. I’m not talking about financially here, but in terms of rewarding effort and performance down the ranks. If a youth player has had a stand out week or two in the Residency or USL, then Robbo should be allowed to reward that by putting him on the bench to see how he fares with the first team. A standard practice the world over.

2014 winner: The standard of refereeing (back from the dead!)
2013 winner: Transparency of rules
2012 and 2011 winner: The standard of refereeing

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THE WILLIE JOHNSTON “DID THAT JUST REALLY HAPPEN?” AWARD :

WINNER: PA MODOU KAH RIDING A HOVERBOARD AFTER CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP WIN – Nothing else needs said. Epic. Legend. And the fact he collected his medal by riding up on it is even better.

2014 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker’s wanking gesture on national TV
2013 winner: Three goals in 140 seconds in Caps v Portland match
2012 winner: Darren Mattocks aerial goal in Toronto
2011 winner: Eric Hassli’s double jersey sending off celebration

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THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY AWARD:

WINNER: DARIO ZANATTA – Former Residency goalkeeper Callum Irving came a close second here, after the ‘Caps have lost his homegrown rights and he’ll be heading into the draft, but instead we’re giving it to another Residency player they’ve lost out on. Dario Zanatta was looking like a top prospect. He’d banged the goals in at U16 level, he was doing it at U18 level and with the USL team here, that looked like the natural next step. Except the Whitecaps came in with a lowball offer to the striker and he felt he had no option but to continue his footballing career in pastures new. After a few trials in the UK and Europe, he settled in at Hearts in Scotland this summer. He’s excelled with the Jambo’s U20s and has now made three appearances for the first team, the most recent of which came on December 27th in the 2-2 home draw with Celtic and in yesterday’s 3-2 win over Dundee United. Zanatta’s future looks very bright, but sadly for the ‘Caps, this was a major mess up from the front office in letting him get away.

2014 winner: The missing link – a new striker (sound familiar?!!)
2013 winner: Alain Rochat
2012 winner: John Carew
2011 winner: Robbie Savage

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QUOTE OF THE YEAR :

WINNER: RUSSELL TEIBERT – “Every team in this league has stars, we do too. It’ll be a match up with 11 men, all humans.” (05/03/15) – With a lot of the focus on TFC’s expensive players coming to Vancouver for First Kick, Rusty is keeping his feet firmly on Earth.

2014 winner: Andy O’Brien – “They keep chanting my name for some reason. I don’t know why it is!”
2013 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker’s comments on Dallas’ divers
2012 winner: none awarded
2011 winner: Tommy Soehn – “It doesn’t take much to turn a team around”

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THE “PLEASE JUST SHUT UP” AWARD:

WINNER: POINTLESS JOURNALISM AND CLICKBAIT SITES – If there’s one thing that seems to piss me off more year upon year is the seeming non-stop rise of pointless journalism. “How can you say that when yesterday you ran a piece on funny football related TV shows?” I hear you cry, well, let me continue.

Now it could be argued that most journalism is pointless (!) but there’s a number of sites out there, and you know who they are and they know who they are, that seem to feel the need to write an article on every little announcement as if they seem to think that that is actually quality journalism. If the ‘Caps put out a press release for example or something is said on twitter and you put that article out as a “news story” verbatim, without any comment or analysis, what point are you actually serving the football community and football media in general? You’re a cut and paster, not a journalist or blogger. It’s fine once in a while but all the time? Same with humour. We run a lot of nonsense, but at least it’s original nonsense that some thought and time has gone in to!

Sites need to decide – what are you? A breaking news site or a blog/site that wants to actually analyse what goes on behind the initial story? If you want breaking news on the ‘Caps, surely their own site is the place most people go. It’s like the string of people on matchdays that tweet out things like “1-0 Caps. Rivero”. Yeah, like I haven’t already seen that a couple of dozen times in my feed.

Also a two or three hundred word “story” is not quality journalism. It’s a facebook post. Are you really proud to have your name to that or something that is just a virtual word for word paste of a press release? I’ll admit, in these changing times of technology and low attention spans (you still reading this far?!) and everybody wanting to be first to report something or to make sure that no-one else has some content that you don’t, the days of the long form article may be numbered, although we still get an excellent number of visitors every month for such things. For me, it should always be quality over quantity. Don’t run five or seven articles a week because you feel you have to or your managing editor it telling you that’s the standard. That’s why all our writers are told write what you want, when you want. That way you get the stuff people actually want to take time to write.

When quality football publications like “Plastic Pitch” may go out of business but websites that chase the clicks and ad revenue continue to thrive, it’s a sad world. Ok, rant over. Happy New Year!

2014 winner: People wanting the ‘Caps to open the upper tier
2013 winner: Media who can’t grasp concept of football decisions being made above the manager
2012 winner: Old media fuddy duddies who just don’t get football crowds
2011 joint winners: Poor TV commentators

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HAIRCUT OF THE YEAR :

WINNER: CHRISTIAN DEAN’S BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN STREAK– Like my own hair, 2015 was a thin year for ‘Caps haircuts. So we’re going for the bizarre blonde flash that Dean favoured early in the season. Felt like a cross between the Bride of Frankenstein and some superhero that had been given superfast speed powers. Interestingly, Dean’s best performances came once he got rid of that look!

WFC2 v Sounders 2 - The Story In Pictures (168)

2014 winner: Russell Teibert’s Playoff special
2013 winner: Tommy Heinemann’s Werewolf look
2012 winner: Greg Klazura’s Shaven Locks
2011 winner: Eric Hassli’s Mohawk

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THE MUSTAPHA JARJU “WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY” AWARD :

WINNER: THE ‘CAPS ILL THOUGHT OUT CASCADIA CUP SCARVES – Flashpoints between the ‘Caps Front Office and the Supporters’ groups have reduced in recent years. Publically at least. But the club gave themselves a PR nightmare when they tried to produce a Cascadia Cup scarf at the start of the season, going against the supporters’ trademark rights to the image of the trophy. There was uproar online and in the end profits were donated to charity as a tense agreement was reached late in the day. But it all left some bad tastes in the fans’ mouths along the way.

2014 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker
2013 winner: Darren Mattocks
2012 winner: Kenny Miller
2011 winner: The Empire grass pitch

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THE PAUL BARBER “TALKING OUT OF YOUR ASS” AWARD :

WINNER: THOSE WANTING THE UPPER BOWL OPENED – Every year it’s the same old chatter. A lot of it coming from the vapid non-football talking heads on the radio. “The ‘Caps need to open the upper bowl to cash in on their growing attendances”. It’s absolute nonsense. The market is not there yet to justify it. “But Seattle do it”, “they’re stunting growth” and “it’ll add to the atmosphere” are all thrown out. Well, We’re not Seattle and adding a bunch of non regulars and, often, newbies, isn’t going to create a cacophony of noise as some expect. Others argue it will make the ‘Caps more money to spend on players, forgetting that money has to be spend on increased security, policing, concessions, cleaning etc. Plus opening up a small section of the upper bowl would look terrible, as the Women’s World Cup demonstrated.

I’m all for opening up the entire lower bowl. The Portland playoff game was a success in that regards. But the demand is not there for every game and I think people fail to realise just how tough it has been for the ‘Caps to sell out all the games they have. It’s a long, hard slog. Even the crucial regular season finale against Houston took a while to sell out. The demand is not there yet and may never be. Opening up the upper bowl for a one-off does little for the ‘Caps sustained long term growth.

2014 winner: Omar Salgado and his string of apologies for his attitude
2013 winner: Darren Mattocks’ Jamaican TV interview
2012 winner: Media pundits disrespecting Caps achievement in reaching playoffs
2011 winner: Paul Barber

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And that’s the end of our 2015 awards. Share your thoughts on the award winners below. Who knows what next year will bring? Hopefully even more success!

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Authored by: Michael McColl

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Chris Corrigan at 20:36

    These are great, and I love the recaps of awards past. What a trip it’s been

  2. Watchmen at 21:47

    Mattocks must be very upset. First year he hasn’t won an award.

    The Zanatta and Irving incidents are the kinds of things that fly under the radar of most fans (and the non-football media), but they’re exactly the kind of thing that worries me about the top management of the organization. For a club that boasts so much about “developing players”, you simply can’t be giving them away for nothing. I’m aware that Lenarduzzi has stated they’ve “closed the loopholes” that allowed Zanatta to leave, but my feeling is that upper management simply isn’t on top of this stuff enough.

  3. Michael McColl Author at 18:49

    Cheers Chris!

    Watchman – yeah, it’s definitely aconcern with the younger players. The loophole closing is a contract all the players had to sign about future plans/movement. If a player didn’t want to sign it, they were told they would have to leave the Residency program. From talking to a number of parents, who took some advice, the contract is likely not even worth the paper it is printed on.

    As for missing Mattocks out, you know what? You’re right! And it has actually given me an idea for a new category. “Best International Performance By A Whitecap Player”. Mattocks deserves a strong nod for what he did with Jamaica last year, so I’m going to add that in and have that now going forward, since we have a lot of various internationals now (at all age ranges).

    So cheers for the idea! Not as either of us would have probably envisaged that but there you go! haha

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