Another year is over. So that can only mean one thing – it’s time for AFTN eighth annual end of season awards, as we look back at Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2018 season and some more aspects from the North American footballing landscape.
Part One ran on Saturday, so here’s our last ten awards. You can also catch up with our choices from previous years in the links below.
Don’t agree with some (or all) of our choices? Great! Let us know who would have got your votes in the comments below.
BEST AWAYDAY :
WINNER: TORONTO (2-0 away win 06/10/18) – Now it might seem strange that we make our ‘Game of the Year’ an away win in Portland and don’t make it the best awayday, especially since there was a bigger travelling support and it was against a fierce local rival. But one award is enough for that match. We’re awarding our best awayday award to another win in a derby match, a Canadian one this time. The ‘Caps 2-1 win over TFC wasn’t pretty at times but it felt so good. It was a victory that gave Whitecaps supporters hope that they could still clinch what has looked like an improbable playoff spot. False hope as it turned out, as they fucked it up big time in the very next match at home to Sporting KC, but this match summed up everything that makes a near perfect awayday – an unlikely victory against a local rival that boosted your own chances of success while ending theirs. For those that made the trip to the match (a href=”http://aftn.ca/from-the-pigeon-loft-song-of-the-hollow-men/” target=”_blank”>including AFTN writer Chris Corrigan), it was a memorable occasion from a season that offered few – especially those that had also attended the 5-2 shellacking in Toronto in the Canadian Championship nearly two months earlier.
2017 winner: Dallas (4-0 away win 29/07/17)
2016 winner: Seattle (2-1 win on 19/03/16)
2015 winner: Seattle (3-0 trouncing – 01/08/15)
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)
QUOTE OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: RUSSELL TEIBERT – – “It’s not a part of our make up to give up, and that team gave up. We gave up and it’s unacceptable”. That was Russell Teibert after the Whitecaps season was basically ended by a 4-1 capitulation to Sporting Kansas City in October. A match in which they led and then finished by looking like a team that couldn’t defend if their (playoff) lives depended on it. Yes, Vancouver were undermanned that night, but heads went down and it was a shocking display for the final half hour. Teibert’s quote was a precursor to some more airing of grievances at the end of season media availability, so with that in mind, and the subsequent blowing up of the team and a locker room that may or may not have been divided depending on whose views you believe, this quote basically was the 2018 Whitecaps season in a nutshell. Or at least gave an indication as to what was seriously wrong with it.
2017 winner: Spencer Richey – “I thought Tim Melia deserved to win it to be honest, but I guess my mom has more Facebook friends than his”
2016 winner: David Ousted – “If you want to fight on a football pitch, how about fighting on a fucking Saturday”
2015 winner: Russell Teibert – “It’ll be a match up with 11 men, all humans”
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”
HAIRCUT OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: A DREAD FULL BREK SHEA – When Brek Shea was seen to be on the team, it often filled Whitecaps fans with dread. His miss against Houston was dreadful. As his haircut showed a few days later, it seemed to be a running trend with the Texan.
2017 winner: Yordy Reyna’s Sideshow Bob Look
2016 winner: Erik Hurtado’s silver surfer
2015 winner: Christian Dean’s Bride of Frankenstein streak
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
HERO OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: THE CANADIAN PREMIER LEAGUE – Could this award be a poisoned chalice? The last two winners left the club after the seasons in which they won. Hopefully this doesn’t send bad omens to this year’s winner, which is actually a group of people – those behind launching the Canadian Premier League.
We had a number of nominations for this year’s “Hero”. Some were local (Alphonso Davies, Kei Kamara’s mentoring), some were national (the CPL), and some were international (the rescuers of the Thai football team from the cave, Football Leaks, Dulwich Hamlet winning their fight to return to their home after being evicted). In the end, my editorial decision has given it to the CPL.
Next year will see the launch of the new league, but everyone that has been involved in it this year, from the executives at the top (David Clanachan, Paul Beirne), to the coaches to the new players to the supporters, have instilled an excitement and infectious enthusiasm as to what this league can become and what it can mean to Canada and supporters. They all deserve a lot of credit and we can’t wait to see what the new year brings.
2017 winner: Kendall Waston
2016 winner: Alan Koch
2015 winner: Pa Modou Kah
2014 winner: Carl Robinson
2013 winner: Carl Robinson
2012 winner: Young-Pyo Lee
2011 winner: Joe Cannon
VILLAIN OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: GIANNI INFANTINO – We had nominations from the AFTN team and readers of people such as Efrain Juarez, the Whitecaps front office, David Baldwin, and more. I also nominated evil landlords Meadow Residential for screwing over Dulwich Hamlet, as mentioned above. Our winner though got a few nominations, and he is FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
After the recent FIFA corruption scandals that caused many heads to roll, fans hoped that Infantino would be true to his word and bring in a new approach to the world’s game. Instead we see ideas pitched and deals discussed that seem only to make the world’s rich richer, with little regard to the fan’s and the smaller players. Whether it’s trying to bring in new competitions, expand existing ones, and demands for host cities, it all still smacks of the same old FIFA, and that’s just disappointing beyond belief.
2017 winner: Clint Dempsey
2016 winner: MLS Disciplinary Committee
2015 winner: Ricardo Salazar
2014 winner: Mark Geiger
2013 winner: Will Johnson
2012 winner: David Ferreira
2011 winner: Tommy Soehn
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY AWARD:
WINNER: THE PLAYOFFS – Mostly, but not always, we’ve given this to a player, but this year the thing that really feels like we let get away was a playoff place. To finish the season two points (realistically one win with the tiebreakers) away from the postseason was disheartening, disappointing, and anger inducing. Every club can look back at their season and say “if only”. It’s easy to look at games where late goals cost you points or you underperformed against a poor or weakened team. The ‘Caps had a lot of those.
Our home form was abysmal. We pissed away 25 points at BC Place, many of them to late goals or against teams we should have beaten. That’s totally unacceptable and shows just how close we were to reaching the playoffs. The inability to strengthen the side in the summer cost us dear, maybe not as much as the inability to defend, but it played its part. There was also the inability to keep 11 players on the pitch in games, as already discussed, and the fact that several times during the run-in we controlled our own fate and blew it. All in all, 2018 was a wasted opportunity and one the Whitecaps have to bounce back from immediately or face losing the fanbase further.
2017: Alessandro Hojabrpour
2016: Kei Kamara
2015 winner: Dario Zanatta
2014 winner: The missing link – a new striker (sound familiar?!!)
2013 winner: Alain Rochat
2012 winner: John Carew
2011 winner: Robbie Savage
MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT :
WINNER: THE 6-0 DEMOLITION JOB BY SPORTING KC (20/04/18) – What an absolute clusterfuck of a match. It started early. Yordy Reyna was played in seven minutes in, took a touch, rounded KC ‘keeper Tim Melia, then with the goal gaping, fluffed his lines, allowing Melia to recover. Three minutes later they were one down. By the half hour mark they were three down. By the 40th minute mark they were three goals and two men down, after the sending offs of Reyna and Efrain Juarez for completely losing their heads in a mass brawl. When the final whistle eventually put the Whitecaps out of their misery, they were on the wrong end of a 6-0 hammering and were lucky to have the nil. It could have been double figures for KC. This was just an embarrassment for the ‘Caps – no discipline, no shape, no threat, no answer to a good team, no leadership. The season could have unraveled there and then. It didn’t, but it didn’t get a whole lot better consistently enough to save it. The warning signs about our defence were on display for all to see. They either weren’t heeded or were ridiculously thought to be fixable. Just a pure and simple embarrassment all round.
2017 winner: Shot shy Seattle playoff series
2016 winner: Fabian Espindola Clusterfuck
2015 winner: Playoff blanks
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
DISGRACE OF THE YEAR :
WINNER: WHITECAPS DISCIPLINARY PROBLEMS – There were a lot of things wrong with the Whitecaps in 2018, but one of the biggest disgraces was the lack of discipline the team showed at times from certain individuals. The inability to keep their heads, both on the pitch and on the sidelines, was embarrassing to watch at times. Vancouver led MLS in the number of sending offs they had this past season. There were eight in total, from six different players, with Efrain Juarez and Yordy Reyna had two apiece. MLS Cup champs Atlanta had three. Fellow finalists Portland had two, as did Supporters Shield winners New York Red Bulls. In other words, teams who managed to keep their played on the pitch had success. What a surprise!
Reyna had more yellow cards (eight) than goals (six). We had Reyna and Juarez sent off in the game in Sporting KC (see above), Cristian Techera sent off for picking up a second yellow card for taking his jersey off after scoring (see below), and then there was Juarez chest bumping the referee in the July loss in Seattle. I love passion. I love tough tackling and the consequences that often come with that. But this was just ridiculous this past season, and it starts at the top.
2017 winner: The Whitecaps front office
2016 winner: The continuing goalscoring woes
2015 winner: MLS scheduling
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
THINGS WE’D LOVE MLS TO CHANGE :
WINNER: THE PLAYERS’ CBA – We wanted the MLS playoff system changed for 2018. We didn’t get that, but we have now got it for 2019, and I like what they’re doing. We wanted the team winning the Supporters Shield and/or regular season title in each conference to be better rewarded for their efforts, and they have been to an extent. So good changes can happen in the league.
What would we love to see change this time around? Well obviously we could have gone back to our trusty old refereeing angle, but I wanted something a bit fresher, and we’ve gone for the players’ collective bargaining agreement with MLS.
The current CBA doesn’t expire until January 21st 2020, so technically changes won’t take affect for the coming season, but the one after it. But 2019 should see the Players Union engaging in strong talks to make sure they get a far better deal or actually take strike action this time around. They are not valued by the league. They can be moved at a whim, uprooting themselves and their families not only to another city, but often to another country, with no consultation or notice. The pay discrepancies between players at the top and bottom end is ridiculous, and the free agency agreed is farcical, as demonstrated by Kei Kamara opting out of the free agency process as he could get a better salary in the Re-Entry or Expansion draft.
We said at the time of the agreement it was a terrible deal for the players. With each passing season it looks worse. Value your players and you’ll get the reward and loyalty the league needs to continue to grow and attract and keep talent here.
2017 winner: The MLS Playoff system (we got our wish!!!)
2016 winner: The standard of refereeing (grand slam winner!)
2015 winner: The standard of refereeing (for the triple crown!)
2014 winner: The standard of refereeing (back from the dead!)
2013 winner: Transparency of rules
2012 and 2011 winner: The standard of refereeing
THE WILLIE JOHNSTON “DID THAT JUST REALLY HAPPEN?” AWARD :
WINNER: CRISTIAN TECHERA – What was he thinking? he wasn’t. That was the problem. Friday April 27th was the date. BC Place was the setting. The Whitecaps were heading into the match in dire straights on the back of three losses, the latest of which was the 6-0 shellacking by Sporting KC. But then Cristian Techera fired the ‘Caps into a 75th minute lead from the spot, taking his shirt off to celebrate. The problem was that he’d been booked three minutes previously. The result was inevitable, as we quickly called.
Techera gonna get sent off here for taking shirt off
— AFTN (@aftncanada) April 28, 2018
“Absolute insanity” indeed.
Techera celebrates the PK, but is sent off with his second 📒
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) April 28, 2018
2017 winner: Whitecaps FC’s twitter bigs up Atlanta’s scoring prowess
2016: Losing Canadian Championship in stoppage time
2015: Pa Modou Kah collecting medal on a hoverboard
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
THE “PLEASE JUST SHUT UP” AWARD:
WINNER: SUPPORTERS “STATEMENTS” ON SOCIAL ISSUES – I could go on a massive rant here about the Southsiders statement about Kendall Waston around the Pride armband. It was poorly thought out and executed, the player was never spoken to about the issue before the group went public, and those that were behind it have mostly fallen on their swords after an angry response from members and the general fanbase.
An apology was issued (albeit one far too late), a new board is in place, and hopefully there’s a new direction to go with it, steering the supporters group from being outraged at social and political issues, and focusing on what it’s there to do – support the team. On the back of the “we demand better” statement, maybe just focus on the getting the fundamentals of being a supporters group right first before other aspects come in to play.
I fully endorse supporters taking a stand when needed and speaking out on important issues affecting the team, either on or off the pitch. I’ve been a part of many myself over the years. The problem is when you start issuing statements that don’t have the backing of the majority, you look foolish and then lose the impact any future statement makes when it is really needed.
2017 winner: The whole Whitecaps don’t spend money narrative – they do, they just do it badly
2016 winner: All the “We’re a young team” talk
2015 winner: Pointless journalism and click bait sites
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
THE MUSTAPHA JARJU “WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY” AWARD :
WINNER: HAVING MILLIONS IN SALARY ON BENCH AND IN STANDS – Hands up if you expected Brek Shea to win this one. Yup, me too. He has in part, but we have to look at the squad as a whole. People say the Whitecaps don’t spend money. They do, just not as much as a lot of other teams, and what they do spend is allocated terribly throughout the squad. Never was this seen more than in 2018. As the season ran down we had so much salary either sitting on the bench or in the stands. Whoever was responsible for the allocation of some of the salaries this season should be held accountable, as it was frankly unacceptable with far too many of the players.
Now hindsight is obviously a great thing. Players we may have expected to play key roles earlier in the season, perhaps justifying their larger salaries, did not do what they said on the tin. There were too many poor performing players who lost their place in the starting line up. Too many overpaid underachievers. Could we have seen that coming? Debatable I know, but when you look at what you got out of the likes of Jose Aja ($240,000 guaranteed), Anthony Blondell ($295,203), Aly Ghazal ($700,566), Efrain Juarez ($619,833), Felipe ($425,000), and Brek Shea ($745,000), that was not money wisely spent.
2017 winner: The season and closing of WFC2
2016 winner: Russell Teibert
2015 winner: The ‘Caps ill thought out Cascadia Cup scarves
2014 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker
2013 winner: Darren Mattocks
2012 winner: Kenny Miller
2011 winner: The Empire grass pitch
THE PAUL BARBER “TALKING OUT OF YOUR ASS” AWARD :
WINNER: THOSE SAYING KEI KAMARA WAS DISURPTIVE TO THE WHITECAPS DRESSING ROOM – Kei Kamara came to Vancouver with a bit of a reputation. He’d been tagged as disruptive to locker rooms and there were some high profile incidents to perhaps back that up. Whether that was merited or not, I can’t say. I wasn’t there. I didn’t speak to people involved. I’ve only read what you’ve read. But when the striker headed to Vancouver, people were rightfully wary. Can a leopard change its spots?
After if became pretty clear that Kamara wasn’t coming back to Vancouver, and after he did make the move to Colorado via Cincinnati, stuff started to come out about the striker being a root to some of the dressing room divides talked about after the season ended. Now when we heard that, we thought that was strange as we’d heard the complete opposite from players, coaches, and club staff over the course of the season. So when the stuff started to come out, we asked about again, and again were told that that was total bullshit, from a wide variety of people.
So why did that come out? Well you can come to your own conclusions, but it was sad to see and read.
2017 winner: Anthony Precourt
2016 winner: Peter Walton
2015 winner: Those wanting the upper bowl opened
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
And that’s the end of our 2018 awards. Share your thoughts on the award winners below. Who knows what next year will bring? Hopefully a bit more success for starters!