MLS Caps Get Off To A Winning Start

Yesterday was a momentous day in the history of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, as the team played their first ever competitive match as a MLS outfit.

At 10am PST, Jay Nolly; Alain Rochat, Bilal Duckett, Greg Janicki, Wes Knight; Russell Teibert, Gershon Koffie, Terry Dunfield, Shea Salinas; Davide Chiumiento and Atiba Harris went down for posterity as the first Vancouver line up for a MLS Whitecaps game.

The game itself may just have been a friendly against fellow MLS side Real Salt Lake, but after nearly two years of waiting following the announcement that Vancouver was the 17th MLS team, it was a great moment.

Sadly, Vancouver fans couldn’t watch the action unfold at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona, via a live online stream but we could at least follow live text updates and twitter feeds.

It was a game of three halves (I know that makes no sense but this is MLS remember!) and the Whitecaps got their new era off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory thanks to a goal from Russell Teibert after 17 minutes and Terry Dunfield after 57.

Let’s hope they can follow this up with a winning start in their proper debut on March 19th against Toronto FC at Empire Field.

For the Caps fans back in Canada, there were some questions we were eagerly looking for answers for. Who would start? Would we have a surprise striker? Could we score without seemingly having any strikers? At least we got some answers!

It’s very early days, but it looks like Teitur Thordarson could be looking at a 4-4-1-1 formation, with attacking midfielders more likely to be the key to our goals than out and out forwards. We still badly need the latter though and soon. The European transfer window may now be closed after a lot of last minute frenzy, but the North American one is still open until April 15th, so some late additions are still very possible and a necessity. One pre-season win does not a successful regular season make.

It was an impressive win none the less, with some creative attacking flair on display and some strong defensive performances. What was interesting to see was that seven of the starting eleven were players who played for the 2010 NASL Whitecaps. In addition, Rochat was a 2010 signing who was “out on loan”.

Watching the shot shy class of 2010 did we think this would be the case? Most certainly not and yes, there are some players still to come in and who sat out from kick off. It’s good to have a team that knows each other though. That can only help and that’s a vital reason to bring in a striker and/or designated player sooner rather than later.

We’ll see how the squad fare in their forthcoming matches this month and whether we can get any more light shed as to what the starting line up is likely to be for March’s first kick.

Another interesting aspect from yesterday was the media interest in Vancouver for the team.

Last week we saw the excitement as journalists and photographers clamboured over each other to get scoops and photos from the first training session at Empire. It was great to see in a city that seems to forget that football is actually played here at times.

Lots of good TV coverage last night as well from Arizona. CTV News sent Perry Solkowski down and he filed a report including both goals from the game. All that and it’s just meaningless pre-season. I’m looking forward to seeing what we get once we’re in the throes of the real thing.

It’s just a shame that it seems to take having “major” in the title of the League that you play in to get any decent media and public recognition in this city. I know that’s true elsewhere in North America but it’s a sad state of affairs.

Still, no point getting my grump on about it. There’s 44 days and counting till the Whitecaps kick off their 2011 debut MLS season. With the excitement building, that’s 44 days too long as far as I’m concerned!

Authored by: Michael McColl

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