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Episode 96 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (Oh So Simple - Guests Carl Robinson, Darren Mattocks, Pedro Morales and Frank Yallop)

Feb 27 2015 06:11 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

It's always oh so simple for the Whitecaps these days in Portland. Back to back preseason tournaments in the bag and still a game to spare.

We chat with 'Caps coach Carl Robinson and two goal striker Darren Mattocks after Wednesday's 3-2 win over Norwegian side Stabaek, as we look forward to Saturday's final game against Chicago Fire and at the suggestions that Vancouver are a dirty team.

We also hear from Fire head coach Frank Yallop in an exclusive chat about Chicago's preseason and Saturday's match-up.

And there's still time to chat with Robinson and 'Caps captain Pedro Morales about why South American players seem to be such a good fit for the Whitecaps and MLS.

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Report and Reaction: Darren at the double as Whitecaps chop down Norwegian wood

Feb 26 2015 05:20 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

Vancouver Whitecaps appear to like preseason tournaments. They won the 2012 Disney Soccer Classic in Orlando (AFTN was there); they won the Portland tournament last year (AFTN was there again!), and after a 1-1 draw between Portland and Chicago, they've won this year's tournament in the land of the great unwashed as well (yup, there's a trend!!), following their second win in four days.

We bring you our match report and full post-game reaction from the 'Caps locker room after a Vancouver fringe team beat Norwegian side Stabæk 3-2 on Wednesday evening.




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Canadian U18 international Dario Zanatta leaves Vancouver Whitecaps to trial in Europe - "I didn't want to miss out on the opportunities I have now."

Feb 24 2015 06:00 PM | Michael McColl in AFTN

One of the key goals of the Whitecaps new USL side is to provide a place to play, develop and gain competitive minutes for their top young prospects. The crucial missing link between the Residency and the MLS first team.

A few of the current Whitecaps U18 players were expected to see some minutes of USL action with WFC2 this season and many more in seasons to come. One player in particular that we know Carl Robinson was keen to see at the higher level was striker Dario Zanatta, but with minutes in the pro ranks likely to be limited at first for the Victoria native, the 17-year-old has decided to quit the Whitecaps and pursue opportunities over in Europe in the next stage of his soccer career.

A loss for the Whitecaps, but a chance too great to pass up for the player. Zanatta flew out of Vancouver just over a week ago. Now that he's had time to settle in to his new surroundings, AFTN caught up with the Canadian U18 international to discuss his time with the 'Caps and what lies ahead for him now on his footballing journey.

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Canada unveils Cyprus Cup roster as World Cup countdown continues

Feb 24 2015 05:40 PM | Squizz in Some Canadian Guys

The tickets are on sale. The venues are ready (well, mostly). And the countdown clock to the Women's World Cup keeps on ticking -- just about three months left until the big show lands on Canadian soil turf.

But before that, our Canadian squad will face its final tournament-style test, as it heads to its annual Mediterranean vacation competition, the Cyprus Cup. Big Red finds itself in Group A, where it will face Scotland (March 4), South Korea (March 6) and Italy (March 9), before wrapping up the tourney in its ranking game on March 11.

Head coach John Herdman will be bringing 24 players to Cyprus and suffice to say, there are no major surprises. Herdman knows his player pool; at this point, it's about making those final decisions about a few players who will and won't make the World Cup cut. And this tournament will play undoubtedly play a big part in making those decisions.

Canada's 24-player Cyprus Cup roster:

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All articles in Onward! are by Ben Knight

Feb 24 2015 03:06 PM | Duane Rollins in Onward Soccer

Due to a technical glitch in our archives, Ben Knight's byline has been inadvertently removed from his work. While we address this, we wanted to add this quick note to stress that the Onward! blog was written entirely by Ben. We all thank him for his...

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The Good, The Average and The Bad: Simple Opponent In Simple Portland Edition

Feb 24 2015 03:00 AM | Aaron Campbell in AFTN

Vancouver Whitecaps travelled down the I5 to Portland and opened the Simple Invitational with a hard fought and chippy 1-0 victory over the host Timbers. Pa Modou Kah put the nail in the coffin with a nice header from a Mauro Rosales cross to give the Whitecaps the win and continue where they left off in winning last year's tournament.

Let's take a look at The Good, The Average and The Bad: Simple Opponent In Simple Portland Edition....

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Report and Reaction: 2015 Battle of Cascadia already underway in fiery friendly win for Vancouver over Portland

Feb 23 2015 06:57 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

The 2015 Rose City Simple Invitational (there, the best of both worlds!) is underway. Vancouver Whitecaps kicked off their defence with a 1-0 win in a heated affair that saw Pa Modou Kah come back to Portland to haunt his former team, as the Timbers finished the game with nine men. We bring you our match report and full post-game reaction from the 'Caps locker room.

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Episode 95 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (WFC2 Special with Jackson Farmer, Mitch Piraux, Jordan Haynes and Alan Koch)

Feb 22 2015 05:39 AM | Michael McColl in There's Still Time - The AFTN Soccer Podcast

It feels like we've been talking about it for ages, but it's only been since last summer that the seeds for Vancouver Whitecaps' USL team were sewn. Those seeds have now sprouted and the team is coming together, with open tryouts this weekend and their preseason training camp kicking off on Monday.

The 'Caps have announced the first three signings to the USL squad - all Residency graduates and all in this special WFC2 episode of "There's Still Time", the AFTN podcast.

We have exclusive one to one chats with defender Jackson Farmer and midfielder Mitch Piraux about the signing of their first professional contracts, what the USL team means to their development and being involved in last year's Voyageurs Cup squad. Farmer also tells us about making the transition from centre defender to right back and his recent trip to the World Cup qualifiers with the Canadian U20 team.

And there's still time for our thoughts on the team and some training scrum audio from the other USL signing Jordan Haynes and head coach Alan Koch.

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TFC's Hail Mary hope on Argos

Feb 20 2015 08:11 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

The battle to keep the Argos out of BMO is nearing its final act.

Bruce Arthur did a nice job breaking down the details of negotiations between MLSE and Argos' owner David Braley in the Toronto Star last week.

The tl;dr is this: Braley is a cheap, stubborn old man that never really wanted to own the Argos in the first place and he’s going to be damned if he pisses away another $10-million to secure a switch to BMO. MLSE knows it holds pocket aces though and it ain’t budging. There’s a little less than a month left to get a deal done.

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Carl Robinson "very pleased" with where Vancouver Whitecaps are as they head off to Portland preseason tournament

Feb 20 2015 01:40 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

The Whitecaps wrapped up their final on-field training session in Vancouver on Thursday morning before heading down to Portland tomorrow for nine days to take part in the Rose City Invitational (we don't do sponsors here at AFTN. Call it what it is!).

Vancouver have four preseason games already under their belts, and the 'Caps will face another four down in Oregon.

The squad is in it's usual buoyant mood as they get set to head down the I5 to face their Cascadian rivals, and tournament hosting, Portland Timbers on Sunday, Norwegian side Stabæk on Wednesday and finally Chicago Fire next Saturday. The younger 'Caps players will also face off against their Timbers counterparts this coming Saturday in an additional closed doors game.

It's been hard to read too much into the preseason action so far. Two wins, a draw and a defeat reads the record, with the nine goals for and two against slightly skewed by the lopsided 6-0 hammering of the UVIC Vikes at the weekend.

But with First Kick against Toronto (hopefully) just two weeks away, 'Caps coach Carl Robinson is "very pleased" with where his squad is at.



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Episode 94 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (Carry On Camping II with Robert Earnshaw, David Ousted and Marco Bustos)

Feb 18 2015 06:47 AM | Michael McColl in There's Still Time - The AFTN Soccer Podcast

Vancouver Whitecaps are still camping hard in the hope that the 2015 MLS season will actually get underway on time.

It's a buoyant 'Caps camp, but then again, when is it not? Coming off a 6-0 friendly win on Sunday helps of course. We look back at the UVIC Vikes match-up and ask if there was really much than you can take from such a hammering?

One of the standout players on Sunday though was young Canadian internationalist Marco Bustos. We speak one-on-one with Bustos about his first camp as a MLS pro, how he's progressing and his hopes for the season.

A player who is hoping to build upon a great MLS season last year is Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. The great Dane led the league with 13 clean sheets. Can we expect more of the same or even better? And how will the chemistry be with a new central defensive pairing in front of him? Ousted chats about all this and more.

From those with contracts, to one hoping to earn one. We ran our written interview with Welsh striker Robert Earnshaw last week, but if you missed it or if you want more, here's our full exclusive chat with the goalscorer that may be the answer to the Whitecaps search for a veteran forward.

And there's still time to feature a quick roundtable chat around the Collective Bargaining Agreement that could mean a MLS players' strike. Will it come to this? We hope not, but the players have our full support.

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The Good, The Average and The Bad: Journey To The Island Edition

Feb 16 2015 05:00 PM | Aaron Campbell in AFTN

Well that was easy.

Vancouver Whitecaps flew over to Vancouver Island to dismantle the University of Victoria Vikes 6-0 in their annual pre-season friendly match.

The game was a great build up for the Portland tournament next week and gave players like Pedro Morales and Steven Beitashour a chance to work on their fitness.

With how lopsided the score was it would be easy to call this article "The Great, The Better and The Best", but I don't want to be called a homer.

So instead, let's take a look at The Good, The Average and The Bad: Journey To The Island Edition.

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"Connection" with new Whitecaps DP Octavio Rivero may be key to more MLS minutes for Nicolas Mezquida

Feb 15 2015 07:00 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

Last season was both an enjoyable and a challenging one for Nicolas Mezquida. The Uruguayan midfielder had to fight hard for MLS minutes, managing to get just 421 of them for the Whitecaps by the end of the year.

It had certainly looked like a different story was set to be played out during last year's preseason camp.

Mezquida had joined Vancouver at the start of February from Uruguayan side Boston River, along with teammate Sebastian Fernandez. The pair knew each other's game inside and out, so it was no real surprise when their play continued to click in a Whitecaps jersey during the preseason games.

Fernandez was playing out wide, Mezquida in the number 10 role. Both look great when linking up together and both looked set to be starters come the start of the season, but then the Whitecaps signed Pedro Morales and everything changed.

Mezquida was viewed to be primarily best suited to the playmaker's role but with the form and influence of Morales being crucial to the 'Caps success, opportunities to play became limited and Nico managed to play in only 14 games during the regular season, with only four starts in amongst them.

After moving to a new country, struggling to secure regular first team minutes and then seeing your best friend at the club not return, you would be forgiven for thinking that Mezquida might be questioning his decision to come to Vancouver, but nothing could be further from the truth. The midfielder couldn't wait to be back for the new season, hungry to compete and show just what he can mean to the Whitecaps.

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Robert Earnshaw still hungry to succeed as training stint with Whitecaps continues - "I want to be part of a successful team and be a piece within a group of players that achieves things"

Feb 14 2015 07:05 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

The Whitecaps need a goalscorer. That was the stuck record that played out in Vancouver last season. There were only so many spins you could put on what was becoming a never-ending angle.

Carl Robinson knew it. The 'Caps higher echelons knew it. The players knew it. Fans, pundits and my dog knew it.

The Whitecaps addressed the issue quickly in the offseason with the addition of young Designated Player Octavio Rivero. It's still an unknown as to whether the Uruguayan will be the answer to the 'Caps goalscoring prayers, but what is almost a certainty is that the 23-year-old can't do it all by himself. He's going to need some help up front and ideally from an experienced and proven goalscorer.

And maybe even more ideally, one with a previous record of banging in the goals in Major League Soccer. But then, every club in MLS would like one of those.

The Whitecaps have a player in their preseason camp right now that ticks all the right boxes. Welsh striker Robert Earnshaw has already shown what he can do in the league with Toronto and Chicago, and while neither side is committing to or even talking about a long term relationship right now, the addition of the 33-year-old would make a lot of sense on a lot of fronts.

AFTN caught up with Earnshaw after training on Friday for an exclusive one-on-one chat about his plans, his career, his thoughts on MLS and a lot more besides....

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TFC to field PDL side in 2015

Feb 13 2015 01:51 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

Toronto FC has won its battle to field a PDL team.

Sort of.

Earlier this week, the Ontario Soccer Association, with the backing of the CSA, offered TFC a one year sanctioning compromise. The club will be allowed to operate a team in PDL in 2015, but only for a single season. No sanctioning will be granted moving forward, starting in 2016.

CSN was told that TFC felt the level of competition in Ontario League1 has not yet reached the point where it meets their development goals. Last year the TFC senior academy captured the League1 title, going undefeated in league play.

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The sanitizing of BMO Field

Feb 12 2015 07:16 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

Over eight seasons, TFC fans have put up with a lot. Incompetence, back room soap operas, price gouging, $15 beers, being forced out of their seats so MLSE can host a single hockey game, and never ending talk of having the city's ugly stepchild of a sports team, the Argos, destroy the pitch, thus forcing plastic crap to be re-installed.

Yet, we're still here. Not as many as were there in 2007, but not nearly as few as you'd expect from a team that now ranks No 2 all-time in amount of managers it's had, despite coming into the league 12 years after it launched.

When you consider that TFC fans put up with all that and more, you might be surprised by the visceral reaction today at the suggestion -- on a fan survey that's part of the TFC Fan Council initiative -- that TFC might be considering adding a mascot to the game day experience.

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Carl Robinson's relationship building with players still key factor to Whitecaps success - "90% of the job is the man management side of it"

Feb 12 2015 01:10 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

Sometimes at AFTN time can get a little bit ahead of our best intentions. There were a number of articles, features and interviews that we planned to run last year, that for one reason or another, we simply never got round to publishing. That doesn't make them any less relevant months later and in some cases, the subject matter becomes even more so.

A lot was made of Vancouver Whitecaps' excellent locker room harmony last season. How many points of their club (and Canadian club) record breaking 50 MLS points total can be attributed to that is obviously open to debate, but we firmly believe it played a significant role in the 'Caps successes last season.

Last summer, we planned to run a piece around Carl Robinson's relationship building approach to man management, the importance he places on it and how the players respond to it and view the 'Caps coach. Time got away from us but the whole content of the piece, and the quotes we garnered last June, are still very pertinent today, as you are about to read....

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Episode 93 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (Cat and Mouse)

Feb 07 2015 11:03 PM | Michael McColl in There's Still Time - The AFTN Soccer Podcast

Episode 93 of "There's Still Time", the AFTN podcast, is our first roundtable of the year.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play. Your regular host Michael has gone all Braveheart and is staging a one-man invasion of England. In his absence, Zachary Meisenheimer and Steven Lamothe join your other regular co-host Steve Pandher to look at what was a fairly busy offseason.

The trio look at the main signings of the winter and what, if anything, can be drawn from the first preseason game of the year – a 2-0 win over New England.

There’s WFC2 USL PRO chat and interviews with young ‘Caps striker Caleb Clarke and new Whitecaps FC 2 head coach Alan Koch.

And there’s still time to pick over the bones of the flop that was the Canadian U20’s World Cup qualifying campaign.

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Fury FC Brings In Former CanM20 M Patryk Misik; CSA Announces V Cup Dates

Feb 06 2015 04:32 PM | Canadian Soccer News in OttCityFootie

The Fury FC have made a long-due signing for its midfield, adding an exciting prospect in former Canadian men’s U20 international midfielder Patryk Misik.

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Fury FC Releases 2015 Pre-season Schedule

Feb 04 2015 08:18 PM | Canadian Soccer News in OttCityFootie

Fury FC announced their 2015 pre-season schedule yesterday, and, at first glance, the list of announced opponents seemed to be one of the best lineup Fury FC fans could possibly hope for.

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Jock Math: Gilberto by the numbers

Feb 02 2015 10:20 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

It appears that the sale of Gilberto will be made official Friday. Multiple sources are confirming that the Brazilian is going home after one year with TFC (although notably there are those reporting that the deal isn't yet done).

It’s a move that will upset many. After a slow start he became a fan favourite and many had hoped that his production would be vastly increased in his second year in the league. And, although he scored just seven goals, it was widely felt that his all-around contribution was such that he was a player that could not be measured by goals alone.

The Toronto Sun’s Kurt Larson has gone so far as to call him the “most complete” striker in MLS.

If Larson is right TFC has likely made a mistake. So, is he right?

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Fury FC Updates – Signing of CB Rafael Alves, ST Wiedeman, RB Richter, Decline on RB Woodbine

Feb 02 2015 08:58 PM | ironcub14 in OttCityFootie

Ottawa Fury FC fans have witnessed some fascinating signings by the club over the past fortnight, and are rightfully excited, even exhilarated, about the upcoming season.

The senior roster is now up to 18 players, and only 4-5 players short of what is Dos Santos’s ideal roster size. With the addition of a further international signing, there are currently 6 international spots filled out of 7 allocations.

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ToronTWO schedule released TWOday

Feb 02 2015 08:34 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

ToronTWO is getting closer to reality with today’s release of the USLPRO schedule. Like the senior team, the Due (get it. They are in Vaughan. Lots of Italians. Due is two in…nah, that doesn’t work, does it?) are starting with a big road trip.

After opening March 28 at Charleston, the Deuce (maybe too, um, crappy?) play eight more road games to open the year. The truly dedicated can travel to Montreal March 28 to watch he first 401-2 Derby in, believe it or not, Olympic Stadium.

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Caleb Clarke back refreshed, hungry and looking to be a goalscoring threat for the Whitecaps

Feb 02 2015 04:00 PM | Michael McColl in AFTN

As always, the offseason has seen several comings and goings on Vancouver Whitecaps' MLS roster.

Some were expected, some less so. One particular piece of eyebrow raising business though came from a re-signing.

When the Whitecaps announced in December that striker Caleb Clarke had signed a new deal with the club, it was a little surprising. The 21-year-old Residency alumni had headed to Germany in July 2013 for a year's loan with top flight Bundesliga side Augsburg and had done well with their Under-23 side before an injury saw him head home last summer to rehab.

Many expected that the Canadian international's footballing future would lie on the other side of the Atlantic, but Caleb is back with his hometown team, refreshed, invigorated and hungry to stake a place in the Whitecaps MLS starting eleven.

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The Good, The Average and The Bad: Alan Koch Hiring/USL PRO Edition

Feb 01 2015 10:20 PM | Aaron Campbell in AFTN

On Friday it was announced that Alan Koch will be the first USL PPO head coach for WFC2. He is a familiar face to the current first team coaching staff and is known around the local soccer scene. He has been a staple of soccer the past seven years at SFU and hopes to continue his success in his new role with Vancouver Whitecaps.

Lets now take a look at The Good, The Average and The Bad of the Alan Koch hiring.

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