Whitecaps Football Shorts # 10

This round up features the reserve league, referees, Portland’s home debut and the Manchester City friendly…

The Caps officially announced today what we revealed earlier this morning, that Sunday’s reserve league clash with Chivas USA will be played behind closed doors.

We were able to let fans know on Wednesday that the game was going to be held at Empire, not from communication from the Caps, but from info we were told by the visitors Chivas.

Ever since the reserve league schedule was released last month, we’ve been in contact with the Club to try and find out arrangements for attending these matches. We’ll go into all the whys and whereforalls around this issue on Sunday when we finally run the piece we’ve had waiting to go for ages on the reserve league. Suffice to say we had to rely on information coming from the Chivas FO, who were excellent to deal with incidentally.

Now on the one hand, we fully understand the cost implications for the Club in opening these games up to the public. They have no idea how many people will come out and how much security they will need. It might cost them a lot of money to please a handful of people, along with the cost of cleaning up the stadium after Saturday’s first team match.

The Club have have known about this for weeks though and have had plenty of time to either sort out the logistics at Empire, find a different stadium to play the matches at (as Seattle have done by using Starfire) or to at least let the fans know more than two days before the actual game.

At least more positively, Barber told today’s It’s Called Football Podcast that “We’re not making this one open in the way we had intended to in the future….Certainly it’s our intention going forward to try and make these games as available as we can. Obviously cost and logistics are going to come into it from time to time, but going forward we’re going to make it as public as we can and we’ll certainly communicate with our fans when we can do that”.

At least that’s promising news for going forward. Let’s just hope the communication is more timeous than this week.

MLS referees are in the news – again.

Vancouver fans are learning the hard way that some of the officiating in MLS leaves a lot to be desired.

We complained up here last week about the antics of Baldy Toledo. There was some sympathy, some disagreement, but very little interest.

After picking up his fifth booking in six games though on Wednesday night, the newly suspended David Beckham has now spoken out about MLS refereeing:

“To be honest, over the last few games, I’ve spoken too much about referees. They are becoming the stars of MLS and that’s obviously not what teams want and clubs want”.

Of course, when darling David squeaks, people take notice.

It was interesting to listen to Alexi Lalas’ comments on ESPN during half time of the Portland-Chicago game last night.

“Can’t live with them. Can’t throw them off a bridge.” was his view on the men in the middle, but it was interesting to hear that yellow cards have shown a 33% increase on this time last year, and red cards in MLS have increased by a staggering 89% – and that’s not all Eric Hassli’s fault!

One fact I hadn’t known prior to this season is that the refs aren’t MLS refs, but confederation referees. Explains it all to me as to where the problems lie.

What we all need is for many others to speak out and be critical of the refereeing quality in the League. The more outrage there is, the more chance of some kind of changes. Throw any “respect” campaign out the window.

The referee in last week’s Whitecaps match in Houston, Jair Marrufo, was excellent. For every Marrufo though, we seem to have two or more Toledos, and this is what needs to change and to change soon.

Last night’s MLS home opener at Piggy Park was a fantastic occasion for Portland Timbers.

The atmosphere and general gameday experience has blown people away, not only in North America, but also in the hard to please UK, where many football fans still don’t really consider MLS to be a proper league.

The Timbers Army certainly rose to the occasion.

We’re not ashamed to say, as we have before, that the TA are easily the best supporters group in North America. Their size, their noise and their organisation put many others to shame. It’s certainly where I’d like to see the Southsiders reaching, especially around co-ordination and stadium participation.

Having taken in a few matches in Portland in recent years, we know what the TA are like, before, during and after the match. Last night though they seemed to have moved up that extra level and seemed to have the whole stadium rocking with them. They certainly had more than the usual TA section bouncing and chanting.

More power to them.

From what we’ve seen with the three home games at Empire, the games in Seattle this season and previous, and now at the piggery, the spirit of the new MLS is in the Pacific Northwest.

We’re all very lucky to have a chance to be a part of it.

We covered the announcement of the Caps mid-season friendly against Manchester City yesterday.

Now that we’ve had a chance to sleep on the news and all of the logistics of it settle in, the burning question that remains is “why the hell are the Club giving the players three games in five days?”.

The more I think of the friendly, the less sense it makes. Adding in a game right in the middle of two vital regular season games, and against two Western Conference opponents in Salt Lake and San Jose at that, seems crazy.

The game is certainly going to generate a buzz but with season tickets already at pretty much their 16,500 cut off point, is it really worth going for that for a Monday night game?

The Caps have already acknowledged this by saying a number of the squad will get a run out. What a quality match this is going to end up being then.

At least we’ll have real grass! And for the Salt Lake game too, which is a much welcome added bonus.

Southsiders Vice President, Brett Graham, came up with a fantastic idea for the match – make it a testimonial game for Martin Nash. It would be a nice touch, for a great servant to the Club, but with the Caps giving season ticket holders a free ticket to the game, there’s not going to be a lot of money to be made for Martin. Definitely something to consider for a future game down the road though.

Final thing we’ll say on the friendly for now and that’s to applaud the Club once again for letting season ticket holders into the game for free.

We may not be 100% sure exactly why we’re having this game, when we’re having it, but it’s good to know it’s not just for a way to make more money off the fans. A big well done to the Club for that.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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