• 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

    • Emotional rollercoaster: Whitecaps go down fighting in LA playoff defeat


      Vancouver Whitecaps headed into their first MLS playoffs this evening as massive underdogs with everyone from the media to the bookmakers.

      There was a reason for that, but at least they made a lot of people sweat a little along the way before going down 2-1 to the defending champions Los Angeles Galaxy tonight in a battling performance.

      The Caps were expected to go in to Los Angeles and try and bunker against the Galaxy, trying to grind out a result and looking to hit on the break. No-one expected Vancouver to grab the early lead, but that's just what they did and they held on resolutely under wave after wave of LA attacks.

      In the end they fell just short of a famous victory, in what was an emotional rollercoaster for Caps fans.

      All we asked for was a performance we could be proud of. For the players to stand up and be counted. We may not have got the victory, but the players did themselves, the club and the fans proud and showed that they deserved that playoff spot they had earned.

      Martin Rennie made one change from the line-up which drew the last regular game of the season in Salt Lake at the weekend, with Barry Robson coming in for Dane Richards, as the Whitecaps went to a five man midfield.

      There wasn't even a minute on the clock before LA had their first chance of the match, with Mike Magee flashing a header past the left hand post.

      Vancouver though were determined to not be overawed and they took a shock lead just three minutes in.

      Matt Watson collected the ball on the left and showed some neat footwork to easily get past Hector Jimenez and run into the box. He cut the ball back to an open Darren Mattocks and the rookie showed composure to deftly direct his shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net and stun the Home Depot Center.


      With many predicting an early Los Angeles goal, both teams now needed to reassess how they would see out the remaining 86 minutes of the game.

      Brad Knighton was called to make his first save of the match in the sixth minute when Juninho unleashed a fierce long range strike which the Caps keeper parried away.

      LA now couldn't afford to be gung-ho and were more deliberate in their build up play as they tried to find a way through a packed Vancouver backline. Whenever they got the ball in, or near, the box though, they were soon closed down by at least one Whitecap.

      The Galaxy were looking dangerous, but not threatening as much as many expected.

      Robbie Keane brought a low stop out of Knighton in the 28th minute after collecting the ball on the edge of the box and turning superbly before firing off a shot.

      Despite dominating possession, LA just couldn't find a way through a resolute Whitecaps defence and they only had two wide Landon Donovan efforts to show for their efforts.

      Vancouver hearts were in their mouths in the last minute of the first half when Donovan went down very easily in the box under the attention of Andy O'Brien.

      Referee Petrescu waved away the appeals but seconds later gave the Galaxy a free kick in a very dangerous position on the edge of the box.

      Up stepped David Beckham but Knighton fantastically got across his goal to palm the goalbound effort away.

      The Whitecaps had held on and went in at the break with a shock 1-0 lead, but they knew they were going to be coming under more and more intense Galaxy pressure.

      Vancouver showed their intention to not just sit back and defend in the second half and John Thorrington brought a save out of Josh Saunders three minutes in with a low drive.

      Barry Robson unleashed a thunderbolt in the 54th minute which Saunders could only parry away, but the LA defence managed to clear the danger for a throw in before Mattocks could get on the rebound.

      The Galaxy turned up the pressure and launched attack after attack to try and get back on level terms, but the Whitecaps held tight.

      Edson Buddle came closest to finding the net in the 64th minute, when Knighton held his header on his goal-line.

      Three minutes later and Knighton was called into action, getting down way to turn away a low Beckham drive.

      Vancouver went up the pitch and nearly added to their lead.

      Substitute Kenny Miller played a neat one-two with Watson, and the Englishman did well to make room and shoot. Saunders could only parry the fierce strike and the ball broke to Miller who miss-hit his shot which was then deflected to Robson. His fellow Scot couldn't find a way through the LA defenders who had closed him down to get off a shot and the Galaxy cleared the danger.

      The inability to put the game away was immediately punished and the home side levelled in the 69th minute when Magee brilliantly volleyed home a Juninho cross from 12 yards out.

      In the build up to the goal, Jay DeMerit had taken a knock and was soon replaced by Martin Bonjour.

      The Argentinean was soon in the thick of the action when Donovan again went down easily under his challenge in the 72nd minute. This time the referee pointed to the spot and Donovan got up to bury the spot kick and give LA the lead.




      It was heartbreak for the Whitecaps, who were frustrated by the decision and assistant coach Paul Ritchie was soon sent from the dugout for comments to the fourth official.

      The Galaxy now started to sit back a little and Vancouver had no option but to try and take the game to the reigning champs.

      Thorrington went down in the box with eleven minutes remaining, but it was clearly not a penalty. The difference between his claim and Donovan's was that the LA player sold his far better.

      Still a danger going forward, and keen to kill the game off, Beckham fired just wide left in the 81st minute, as Vancouver started to commit more men forward.

      LA easily saw out the closing minutes as Vancouver just couldn't muster enough creativity to find a way back into the game.

      It was an expected defeat, but a battling performance in which the Whitecaps fought well but simply didn't have the players in the end to compete at LA's level and get the job done.

      Vancouver's 2012 season is now over and a number of hard decisions will now come Martin Rennie's way.

      Going from worst to fifth, and the playoffs, in one season was a good turnaround. Now he needs to find the necessary means to take the Whitecaps to the next level.

      The performance of many players tonight showed that he has some good foundations to build on as he looks to take the team at least one step further next year.

      FINAL SCORE: Los Angeles Galaxy 2 - 1 Vancouver Whitecaps

      ATT: 14,703

      LOS ANGELES GALAXY: Josh Saunders; Todd Dunivant, Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Hector Jimenez (Marcelo Sarvas 52); Landon Donovan, Juninho (Michael Stephens 83), David Beckham, Mike Magee; Robbie Keane, Edson Buddle [Subs Not Used: Brian Perk, Jose Villarreal, Bryan Gaul, Andrew Boyens, Jack McBean]

      VANCOUVER: Brad Knighton; Young-Pyo Lee, Andy O’Brien, Jay DeMerit (Martin Bonjour 70), Jordan Harvey; Alain Rochat, John Thorrington, Matt Watson (Dane Richards 80), Gershon Koffie, Barry Robson; Darren Mattocks (Kenny Miller 59) [Subs Not Used: Joe Cannon, Jun Marques Davidson, Russell Teibert, Camilo Sanvezzo]

      Comments 18 Comments
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        That was worse for me than if they'd just gone in and lost 3-0 I think. Why did they have to give me hope?
      1. Michael McColl's Avatar
        Michael McColl -
        Yeah same here. I expected a heavy defeat. I didn't expect to be left gutted at nearly coming away with the win.

        But they did everyone proud and if a lot of people are feeling gutted then it shows how much people care about the team, which is better than indifference.
      1. Gagnné's Avatar
        Gagnné -
        Gutted, but proud... In fact more proud than gutted. When you're playing away against the champs you know the calls aren't going your way and that's exactly what happened wrt the penalty call and then subsiquent non-call. Personally I don't think either should have warranted a whistle, but when Landy cakes leaps to the ground and 25,000 people go ape-shit he of course gets the whistle.

        "TSN Turning Point" however was when 1.8M in salary fails to convert against a stranded Josh Sanders, and the Galaxy march the ball back up the pitch and boot one past Knighton. About that, I feel like Robson either doesn't have the will or the athleticism anymore needed to play at this level. The man was called out at several points by his teammates for laziness on defense and it looked to me like he either didn't care or just didn't want to defend because he didn't have the energy to do both. I think he needs to get sent packing this offseason, Jarju style. I unfortunately feel like if he's underperforming next year he will be a cancer in the lockeroom.
      1. Gagné's Avatar
        Gagné -
        Brad Knighton earned plenty OC respect that game. Unfortunate it was on the wrong side of the result, but this was his coming out party as an MLS starting keeper. His performance was flawlesss and made some brilliant saves to keep
      1. Tuscan's Avatar
        Tuscan -
        Miller - Gone. Robson - Gone. Please bring Chiumiento back, the Caps haven't been the same team since he left. I just can't believe that Miller scuffed that chance so poorly, it was something to be expected of an amateur, but a DP? He is not worth a cent of the DP money.
      1. Lucas's Avatar
        Lucas -
        Yeah. You have to think one of the offseason moves Will be Cannon moving on. Unless he's content to be number 2 at number 2 wages. Rennie's man Knighton has really stepped up.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Is the Scot experiment over now in Vancouver, a winable game, lost by two DP players from ov'r home, sad for the hard working players on Vancouver and the fans.
      1. Gutted's Avatar
        Gutted -
        Man... I'm going to try to keep this short, because I'm sure none of you care about my thoughts, but I need to vent dammit.

        Great performances by Knighton, Watson, and the back 4, really too bad that Demerit got injured and couldn't finish the game.

        Kenny Miller... why bring him on? What has he shown this season that would validate bringing him on for Mattocks? Is he a better defender? Maybe, but who cares, neither one of them were behind the ball much, and late in a game I have to believe that Mattocks after 60 minutes still has more energy left in those legs of his than a fresh Miller does to chase down balls. the main criticism for Mattocks early in the season was that he wasn't clinical around the net. Well tonight he had one chance and burried it. Can't say the same for Miller, who once again looked slow, disinterested (not saying he was, just how I see him), and a waste of a sub. Would I have been singing a different tune had he finished his chance? Absolutely, I'm a sports fan.

        As for the penalty that was awarded to Donovan, I agree that it was pretty weak, but I wasn't surprised that the call was made being that it was the second time he went down with contact in the box. Neither were really fouls in my mind but I wasn't surprised when they awarded the second one.
        Related was the Thorrington chance, which I agree, was not a penalty. That was the play that left me the most gutted after the game though. He did well to get the ball inside the defenders, then he took a little knock on the ankle. That's when thing got weird, all of a sudden it was 2002, he jersey turned yellow, and Rivaldo went down clutching his face. I'm all for time travel and all that, and it was a pretty amazing sequence of events, but I can't help but think if he had just played through the contact it would have been better. He put the ball inside the defender and had he not gone down, he would have had a good strike at goal from the top of the 18. That will be my enduring memory of this game. He wanted to let the ref do the work and point to the penalty spot, and hey I get it, people dive in soccer, but when you have a grade A chance, take it. Don't jump to the turf holding your face when you barely got clipped on the ankle.

        On a lighter note, because we still have to laugh, two things:
        1. You have to wonder what Y.P. Lee said to the ref to get his yellow, he was completely out of the frame and all you could see was Thorrington screaming at Petrescu and somehow he picks Lee out for the card... made me laugh.
        2. The fact that the room full of Vancouver fans were pulling for Toronto. I've never seen anyone as interested in a CFL game as we were in praying that Toronto field goal was good and TSN would switch to the 'Caps game and off that damn CFL shite... Luckily they delayed the MLS feed though.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Quote Originally Posted by Gutted View Post
        2. The fact that the room full of Vancouver fans were pulling for Toronto. I've never seen anyone as interested in a CFL game as we were in praying that Toronto field goal was good and TSN would switch to the 'Caps game and off that damn CFL shite... Luckily they delayed the MLS feed though.
        I actually found the CFL game was very exciting, kind of a let down to switch to soccer and see a half-full stadium.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        You can like the CFL and MLS. They're not mutually exclusive.

        As Miller has already discussed wanting to go out on loan this offseason (to remain in shape for international duty), my suspicion is that the caps will look to make that move a little more permanent.
      1. RED MILTON's Avatar
        RED MILTON -
        I styed up to see this game and said to myself, is that TFC on the field or Vancouver, boy they look the same. Vancouver played the same game as tfc played under mariner with much the same result. Defend, defend, kick the ball down the field, defend again and hope the other team is incapable of scoring. A team that defends for 80 minutes of the game cant and should not be in a good position to get the result that they are looking for. But at least you made the playoffs.
      1. Michael McColl's Avatar
        Michael McColl -
        Yeah it's a tough one for me.

        I hate to see a team just go out and try to defend but that seems to be Rennie's philosophy on the road and he isn't likely to change it any time soon.

        Does a team deserve to advance by playing a boring game?

        If it was against us, I'd say no. When it is us, then I guess it's a case of if it works, then fine.

        Still hate it though and the thing was that when we did go forward, we looked not bad at times.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Dammit , we shoulda won that game.

        We just need to install more possession type play. Ie. players who don't mind playing keep away for long spells.

        These type of players are not expensive at all.

        Would of worked well last night, I'm tired of seeing Barry Robson punt the ball down field regardless of where his strikers are or what the scoreline is.
      1. Gagné's Avatar
        Gagné -
        Don't mean to slag on one player here, but just watched the replay of the McGee goal... guess who was jogging back and gets passed by McGee sprinting into the box.

        If Barry Robson doesn't have the fitness or desire left in him to be an impact player, he should move on.
      1. Cris in Van's Avatar
        Cris in Van -
        Quote Originally Posted by Gutted View Post
        Man... I'm going to try to keep this short, because I'm sure none of you care about my thoughts, but I need to vent dammit.

        Related was the Thorrington chance, which I agree, was not a penalty. That was the play that left me the most gutted after the game though. He did well to get the ball inside the defenders, then he took a little knock on the ankle. That's when thing got weird, all of a sudden it was 2002, he jersey turned yellow, and Rivaldo went down clutching his face. I'm all for time travel and all that, and it was a pretty amazing sequence of events, but I can't help but think if he had just played through the contact it would have been better. He put the ball inside the defender and had he not gone down, he would have had a good strike at goal from the top of the 18. That will be my enduring memory of this game. He wanted to let the ref do the work and point to the penalty spot, and hey I get it, people dive in soccer, but when you have a grade A chance, take it. Don't jump to the turf holding your face when you barely got clipped on the ankle.
        You missed the play, and should go back and watch a replay, Thorrington went down cause he got clipped in the face by the defenders hand. It was still weak but he didn't dive cause of a tackle or clip to the ankle, he legitimately got smacked in the face.

        Miller missed a sitter and so did Robson, quite frankly if those two can't score on those chances in a game like that then whats the point of keeping them around. It may sound harsh to some but Miller is our highest paid player even more than Hassli was paid, and he has two goals, two fuckin goals! Thats why the CAPS are not in the next series and no other reason. They played well enough and organized enough to win.
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        when you play counter attack style as the whitecaps did yesterday, you have to take your chances.. I was very upset when Miller and Robson screw up that golden opportunity and then in the following play Robson dont track down Magee and LA scored.... Im sorry but in games like this are when you earn your salary... a couple of players earn a raise (Knighton, Watson) but others earn the door out!
      1. Unregistered's Avatar
        Unregistered -
        Hey Miller... Hassli would have buried it!
      1. Gutted's Avatar
        Gutted -
        Cris,
        Didn't have the luxury of PVR where I was watching the game. Even with him getting hit in the face I still don't think it should have been enough to send him to the turf and not take the, in my opinion, open look from the top of the 18. But you have to admit that the Rivaldo comparison would have been humorous if he hadn't actually got hit in the face.
        I agree about Miller completely. The early excuse was that he had to get in "game shape" but I haven't seen any improvement from day 1. Good point on Hassli though, it really puts how poorly Miller has played when he makes Hassli look like good value for the money.
        Robson trying to pull that rebound back to his preferred left foot and getting closed down was also pretty frustrating.
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