• Michael McColl

      Editor

      Michael McColl started "Away From The Numbers" as a printed fanzine in 1989 for his Scottish club East Fife. It became a website in 2003 and added a general football blog in 2009. The focus has always been to mix serious articles with off-beat humour pieces. The Canadian arm of AFTN began in 2009 and is primarily focused on Vancouver Whitecaps.


      Currently a weekly columnist for Metro News Vancouver, Michael has also written for many UK publications including When Saturday Comes, Four Four Two and The Independent.


    • Steve Pandher

      Assistant Editor

      Steve has been a soccer fan since the early days of the 86ers at Swangard Stadium. He started The Whitecaps Beat blog on the instistence of his wife, as she was tired of listening to his ramblings about the club. When he plays, his two positions are goalkeeper and striker, mostly because of the lack of running involved. In addition to the Whitecaps, Steve also updates the play of Canadian players abroad with the @TrueNorthSoccer twitter account.

    • Jay Duke

      Writer

      Growing up as a casual soccer fan, Jay became a fervent supporter after a move to Vancouver and a rise in profile of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Since then, his summer road trips revolve around Cascadia Derbies, and friends weddings are only to be attended if they do not conflict with a Whitecaps match.

      Jay attempts to share his thoughts from the emotional view of a supporter rather than by advanced analytics or number crunching.

    • Aaron Campbell

      Writer

      Aaron Campbell is our new face to the soccer blog scene. He started following the Whitecaps seriously when they joined the MLS and has been hooked ever since. Not afraid to speak his mind and prove he is right in his opinions backing them up with the stats of the game.

      Yeah right. The only reason he goes to games is to get away from his small army of kids that he has populated the Fraser Valley with. One day the kids and wife will catch on!!!

      Supporter of Whitecaps FC and FC Barcelona.
      Follow on twitter @AaCamp81

    • Canadian Men's National Team Games Unlikely For Vancouver

      The 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers are all done and dusted.

      There’s been cheers. There’s been tears. But most importantly, there’s been two berths booked at the Olympics in London this summer and Canada are proudly filling one of them.

      The tournament has been a huge success, both on and off the pitch.

      The Canadian women have performed well, given it their all and secured their main task in hand, Olympic qualification.

      For many here in the west, there’s also been a big story in the stands, as Vancouverites have taken to the team and the tournament, and turned out in numbers at BC Place for the semi-finals and final.

      The overall attendance for the tournament was over 160,000. The attendance of 25,427 for Sunday’s final set a CONCACAF record for a women’s Olympic qualifying match, beating the previous record set on Friday.

      Average attendance for the group stage was 8,135, whilst the overall average was close to 15,000. With the tournament needing an average crowd of around 10,000 to break even, it’s a pretty satisfied Canadian Soccer Association and CONCACAF right now.

      Despite these numbers, and the passion shown in the stands, don’t expect Vancouver to be hosting Canadian Men’s international matches any time soon.

      The CSA are extremely happy with Vancouver, BC Place and this tournament, that isn’t the issue here:

      ”The past eleven days have been an incredible success for the sport of soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association, both on and off the pitch,” stated Peter Montopoli, General Secretary of the CSA. ”We could not be more proud of the Women’s National Team and their world class performance that has resulted in their qualification for London 2012. The record crowds and nation-wide attention generated during the tournament is indicative of the country’s passion for the beautiful game.”

      Passion indeed, and not exactly what the CSA were expecting:

      ”It has exceeded our expectations, but we’re also not surprised at the support that we received here.” added Montopoli.

      The hope for Vancouver fans is that the attendances would be enough to attract bigger and better international games to the city, and more frequently.

      Venues for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup are still being finalised, but the CSA hope to announce what those will be by the summer. Vancouver has long been touted to host the final.

      FIFA had a delegation on a site inspection of BC Place on Saturday morning and they took in the matches on Friday and Sunday. Edmonton and Montreal have also been part of their visit, but they were reportedly impressed by what they saw in Vancouver.

      The artificial pitch could still be an issue for getting the final, with the obvious option of bringing in some real grass to also consider. That’s not something we have a good record with in Vancouver mind you.

      American coach Pia Sundhage wasn’t the greatest fan of the BC Place surface, when asked post game Sunday what she thought of Vancouver as a possible venue for the World Cup Final:

      ”It’s hard with this turf. It’s beaten them up. There is a reason why some of the players, like Lepeilbet, didn’t play today. We played on the turf, went only one day, then played again. So that’s something that makes it so much harder to play than on natural grass.”

      The women’s game aside, the big question on the lips of many here this week is would Vancouver be seeing the Canadian Men’s National Team in the city any time soon? Montopoli was cagey, due to his surroundings, but reading between the lines, the answer was very clear:

      ”We’ll be making some announcements on February 2nd. We have something planned to announce, our future schedule for the mens and womens sides.

      On the men’s side, if we’re talking World Cup qualification matches, then you have to look at the surface that you’re playing on, you have to take a look at where the players are coming from, and where we’re playing [around the home games]. There’s a number of parameters.

      I will say that certainly the matches we’ve played in Toronto, there is a bit of a home field advantage. Players are very comfortable playing in that environment and everything that’s around there – the infrastructure, the hotel, accommodation, meals, the transportation. They’re very comfortable in that environment.”


      Bringing the surface up seems a little strange, as BC Place has a FIFA authorised polytan pitch. When pushed on this, Montopoli at first said ”It has to be grass”, before quickly back-tracking and adding:

      ”This surface has been very, very good, in terms of the polytan artificial surface for the future. We would need FIFA approval. It would have to continue to be a 2 Star FIFA surface, and again that requires FIFA approval.”

      We all know this wouldn’t be an issue, so what is really stopping the CSA bringing World Cup qualification games here?

      ”I think the other part is our coaching staff and players prefer grass. There’s a preference for that.

      If you look at whoever has grass in our country, it would be BMO Field, Saputo Stadium and Moncton, unless there’s more you can educate us on and we can go and check out.”


      So all but actually saying that the Men’s team aren’t coming to Vancouver any time soon. Moncton, get your petition started.

      I can see where the CSA are coming from in some regards.

      Travelling from Europe to the west coast does add a little inconvenience to the players. Longer journeys both to here and home again, along with the increased time difference. It doesn’t appear to be an issue for the American team of course. The non grass pitch is the other big issue, but one that could be sorted if the will was really there.

      So Vancouverites shouldn’t be holding their breath to see their men’s national football team in these parts for the foreseeable future. I could certainly see some women’s friendlies building on the success of this tournament. Maybe even the odd U23 men’s game and below.

      It’s not going to please everyone, but at the end of the day, if the men’s team qualify for the 2014 World Cup and are heading down to Brazil, does it really matter? Or should the CSA be helping to promote and develop the game, and the fanbase, throughout the country by taking both the men’s and the women’s teams to different venues nation-wide?

      Share your views below.

      Comments 59 Comments
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        It was a great week. I totally agree that it's very unlikely to see more national matches until the city council allow the Whitecaps owners to spend their OWN money and buil the Waterfront Stafium Vancouver deserves.
      1. Grant's Avatar
        Grant -
        Actually, Moncton has had a petition for some time now: http://www.petitiononline.com/nbsoccer/petition.html
      1. Tuscan's Avatar
        Tuscan -
        Petition's sitting at 430 sigs so far. Seeing Peter name-drop Moncton in there makes one wonder - is Moncton actually slated now to get a game? It's fairly obvious now that Toronto is going to get one, most likely Honduras (if the CSA is smart), Montreal now appears like it might get one (possibly Panama, heck maybe only Cuba), and then Moncton for the third? Thursday is going to have some really interesting info now, isn't it.
      1. Soccerpro's Avatar
        Soccerpro -
        This is a no brainer. The players decide where they want to play and they don't want to fly all the way to the West coast to play on artificial turf.
      1. Blue and White Army's Avatar
        Blue and White Army -
        Cascadian men's national team, anyone?
      1. MattP's Avatar
        MattP -
        Quote Originally Posted by Soccerpro View Post
        This is a no brainer. The players decide where they want to play and they don't want to fly all the way to the West coast to play on artificial turf.
        If the players are dictating where they want to play, then they had better win when they play there.

        I still think we should start basing qualifying host sites on making life as miserable for the other team as possible rather than catering to our guys. Slow opponent used to playing on a bumpy minefield of a Central American pitch? Play them on fast turf. Request home dates in the late fall so we can freeze the Caribbean'ers nuts off. Etc., etc.
      1. italk2u's Avatar
        italk2u -
        Quote Originally Posted by MattP View Post
        If the players are dictating where they want to play, then they had better win when they play there.

        I still think we should start basing qualifying host sites on making life as miserable for the other team as possible rather than catering to our guys. Slow opponent used to playing on a bumpy minefield of a Central American pitch? Play them on fast turf. Request home dates in the late fall so we can freeze the Caribbean'ers nuts off. Etc., etc.
        So that way we make both teams unhappy!
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Soccerpro View Post
        This is a no brainer. The players decide where they want to play and they don't want to fly all the way to the West coast to play on artificial turf.
        The players don't need an extra 5 hrs flight, on top of their flights from Europe. This is all about keeping the players and coaching staff happy, and giving them the backroom support to help them achieve WC qualification. It isn't about making a political decision to share the games around, and risk something tampering with what they see as ideal situation.

        It will come down to performance on the field that determines if they advance, not travel and artificial turf.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        What I want to know is if the surface is so important, why were the 2010 qualifiers played on the horrible surface in Toronto before the grass was put in?

        Oh well, I guess I get to keep playing the count the empty seats and people in foreign colors at CMT games in Toronto game.
      1. adrenaline11's Avatar
        adrenaline11 -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        What I want to know is if the surface is so important, why were the 2010 qualifiers played on the horrible surface in Toronto before the grass was put in?

        Oh well, I guess I get to keep playing the count the empty seats and people in foreign colors at CMT games in Toronto game.
        - Location in relative to Europe and because it was a new facility. Also close to Nottawasaga Inn which the staff/players love (we probably get a discount with the owners)
        - Empty seats and people in foreign colors also happen in almost any other location...not just a Toronto issue
        - Not anti-Vancouver...but if you ask the players, I bet they'd play on the grass at Swampgard than the turf at BC Place...even if it's only gonna be 5,000 people
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        Oh well, I guess I get to keep playing the count the empty seats and people in foreign colors at CMT games in Toronto game.
        Just like all those blue scarves in the canadian section of this tournament. The canadian section was red white and blue...
      1. italk2u's Avatar
        italk2u -
        I guess there would be no home field advantage for canada on a bright summer afternoon with 50,000-plus CANADIANS cheering them on in their red and white at Commonwealth Stadium, would there?I didn't think so!That 4 hour flight from Toronto would take all the steam right out of them, wouldn't it
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        It was a great week. I totally agree that it's very unlikely to see more national matches until the city council allow the Whitecaps owners to spend their OWN money and buil the Waterfront Stafium Vancouver deserves.
        That has been a dead issue for a few years now. The Whitecaps owners are happy to be playing in a renovated BC Place
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
        The players don't need an extra 5 hrs flight, on top of their flights from Europe. This is all about keeping the players and coaching staff happy, and giving them the backroom support to help them achieve WC qualification. It isn't about making a political decision to share the games around, and risk something tampering with what they see as ideal situation.

        It will come down to performance on the field that determines if they advance, not travel and artificial turf.
        This might surprise some of you Easterners. A flight from London to Toronto is 8 hours. London to Vancouver is 10. That is a two hour difference (not the oft-stated 5). Factor in that it takes 20 minutes to get from YVR to a downtown hotel and who knows how long in Toronto (usually at least an hour in my experience) and the difference in travel times is maybe an hour. Time zones are likely more of a factor than travel times.
      1. Diego's Avatar
        Diego -
        I'll qualify my statement by saying I don't know much enough about the turf/grass debate. Now... why does BC Place have turf and not grass? It's a newer renovated stadium, everyone likes grass better, it would serve Whitecaps/MLS players better as well as Canadian/international players. What is the big drawback that allowed BC Place to reopen with turf? I also know very little about football so is it that the BC Lions require turf for some reason?
      1. Grant's Avatar
        Grant -
        Quote Originally Posted by Blue and White Army View Post
        Cascadian men's national team, anyone?
        Steady.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        It's because football turns a field into a ripped up piece of shit faster than you can say football.

        As for having the games in Toronto, the stated reasons for having the games there are incredibly poor(-Toronto occupies a unique position in Canada and is the only place capable of hosting an international event -The rest of disagrees -Toronto, due to its belief in the first point disagrees -repeat argument forever), but it doesn't matter. The Ontario based CSA wants the games in Toronto, so the rest of us are F*ed.
      1. italk2u's Avatar
        italk2u -
        Quote Originally Posted by Diego View Post
        I'll qualify my statement by saying I don't know much enough about the turf/grass debate. Now... why does BC Place have turf and not grass? It's a newer renovated stadium, everyone likes grass better, it would serve Whitecaps/MLS players better as well as Canadian/international players. What is the big drawback that allowed BC Place to reopen with turf? I also know very little about football so is it that the BC Lions require turf for some reason?
        For the same reason the eskimos and Edmonton city council ripped out the grass at Commonwealth Stadium a few years back and put in Turf...maintenance costs.
      1. Brenton's Avatar
        Brenton -
        Also, soccer and football teams sharing the same grass pitch would be disastrous in terms of quality and/or maintenance. Just think about how much football games chew up wet grass.
      1. Brenton's Avatar
        Brenton -
        Had a good discussion with Jamie (of the Voyageurs) last night. As much a factor in all this is the issue of direct flights from other CONCACAF countries. There simply aren't any direct flights to Vancouver from a lot (most?) of Caribbean countries.
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