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No Pedro, No Party - Whitecaps too reliant on their talismanic captain

Sep 02 2014 07:00 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

It's perhaps unfair to describe Vancouver Whitecaps as a one man team this season, but it's not a total flight of fancy or too far off the mark.

Only two teams in all of MLS (LA and RSL) have lost fewer games than the Caps this year. David Ousted and his backline deserve credit for that, with seven clean sheets to date.

At the other end of the pitch though, it most certainly is the Pedro Morales show.

Morales has played in all bar one of the Whitecaps' 25 games so far this season, starting 20 of them. The Chilean leads Vancouver in all attacking areas - goals (7), assists (9), shots (78), shots on goal (28). He set a club record in MLS with his staggering 12 shots in the July home game against Dallas.

It's impressive stuff and shows just what a fantastic addition he has been.

Impressive, but concerning, because as with such talent the world over, it's a high level of performance that is almost impossible to bring game in and game out.

When Pedro is on, the team is on fire. When Pedro has an off day, the Whitecaps have very little else on offer. And it's starting to take its toll.

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Sober Second Thoughts: Drama and TFC. A Toronto tradition since 2007

Sep 01 2014 09:24 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

Honestly, in the context of the entire history of TFC, the last 24-hours doesn't even break into the top five wackiest days. That has a lot to do with just how wacky TFC has been, but still... For the record, the sacking of Preki and Mo Johnston is No...

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MLS Week in Review – Round 25

Sep 01 2014 06:22 PM | James Grossi in 24th Minute

Round 25 may have lacked some of the goal-scoring prowess of its predecessor, but what it missed in goals, it more than made up for with drama and surprise – both on and off the pitch.

Leaving aside the sole midweek match, the nine weekend games resulted in a stunning four away-wins, including a trio of 0-3 results, and only a single draw.

21 goals were scored – just one of which was from the penalty spot – while 27 yellow cards were shown and a single red, to Chivas’ Cubo Torres in the waning moments of the round’s final match.

From heart-felt moments to horrible showings, the round covered the gambit of what the sport can be, with some teams stepping up to the challenge and others falling when it mattered most – all with serious ramifications for the standings and thus the playoff races.

While the settings in the West look all but decided – with only one spot really up for grabs – the East is tighter than ever, with five points separating third from ninth; the drama will be aplenty, in the East at least, to be sure.

Before the results, the goals of the round:

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Vancouver Whitecaps v Portland Timbers: The Story In Pictures

Sep 01 2014 11:00 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

It wasn't pretty at BC Place on Saturday night as Portland Timbers dismantled Vancouver Whitecaps' playoff hopes with a stunning three goal second half that saw them leaping above that red playoff line for the first time all season.

AFTN photographer Tom Ewasiuk was there capturing the game for us. Here's a selection of his photos from before, during and after what was a very rocky horror picture show for the Whitecaps.

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Report and Reaction: No port for Whitecaps in Timbers storm

Sep 01 2014 06:16 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

[Match report and post-game reaction from both locker rooms after Portland Timbers' 3-0 hammering of Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Saturday evening. Featuring quotes from the Caps' Carl Robinson, Kendall Waston and Jordan Harvey, and the Timbers' Caleb Porter, Alvas Powell, Darlington Nagbe and Jorge Villafana]


MISSING - Vancouver Whitecaps attack. Last seen in May. If found, please return to Carl Robinson asap. Our playoff hopes depend on it.

Halloween came early to Vancouver on Saturday night, as some green and white chainsaw swinging hordes chopped through a Whitecaps defence as if they weren't there. Which sadly they weren't.

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TFC parts ways with Coach Ryan Nelsen and Company

Aug 31 2014 07:53 PM | Canadian Soccer News in 24th Minute

Toronto FC have called a news conference for Sunday afternoon where they are expected to announce the dismissal of manager Ryan Nelsen and the majority of the TFC coaching staff. Nelsen's departure will be made official at 4 p.m. ET when General Manag...

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Unadvanced Stats: Making the Playoffs in MLS's Eastern Conference

Aug 30 2014 06:23 PM | Michael Crampton in 24th Minute

“You need 50 points to make the playoffs.”

It’s a common enough phrase around MLS, generally answered with nods from knowing fans. It’s wrong of course, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming common knowledge.

With 11 games left in their season, it’s got some TFC fans either concerned or, alternatively, setting an unrealistic level of expectation for the Reds' run-in.

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Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution Match Preview

Aug 30 2014 02:10 PM | Michael Crampton in 24th Minute

Toronto FC’s injury problems have now become a full blown crisis, just in time for a vital Eastern Conference game versus the New England Revolution. All three players substituted out of last week’s draw with the Chicago Fire, captain Steven Caldwell, defender Justin Morrow, and leading-scorer Jermain Defoe are unavailable, with the potential for longer absences looming.

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New city, same Cascadian desire for Mauro Rosales

Aug 30 2014 08:16 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer may very well have been Carl Robinson's mindset when he decided to bring Mauro Rosales to the Whitecaps last week.

"I used to hate playing against him because he's a threat." Robinson said this week. "If teams sit back on us then obviously he's got the ability to unlock defences so I'm excited to see how they [all] link up on Saturday, I really am."

And so are we.

Rosales may be the new face in the Caps' dressing room but the 33-year-old midfielder is certainly no stranger to Vancouver. It was certainly a case of stranger danger when the Argentine played against the Whitecaps and that was never more true than this season.

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Episode 76 - The AFTN Podcast - "There's Still Time" (The Great Unwashed)

Aug 30 2014 02:00 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

Disinfectant at the ready, the Great Unwashed are coming to town.

Portland come a calling to BC Place on Saturday in a crucial Cascadia Cup clash with vital playoff points on the line. A Whitecaps win and they're sitting pretty, A Timbers win and Caps start to lose the momentum in the playoff race.

Episode 76 of "There's Still Time" looks at what lessons, if any, we can take from the Whitecaps' 2-0 loss in LA and ponders whether a change of formation would help with the goalscoring woes. Or will that take a new addition and could he be on the way in the shape of Kai Kamara?

We also look ahead to this weekend's big game hunt against the Timbers. Can the Caps give Will Johnson and co a right good face slapping?

And there's still time for lots of training ground audio from Caps' coach Carl Robinson, goalkeeper David Ousted, defenders Jordan Harvey and Andy O'Brien, and strikers Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks.

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Why Canada fans should pull for Costa Rica in the Copa Centroamericana

Aug 30 2014 01:49 AM | Grant in Some Canadian Guys

The biennial Copa Centroamericana starts next week. Normally that sentence wouldn't excite many people outside the borders of various Central American nations. However, this particular incarnation of the tournament offers some genuine reasons for Canadian soccer watchers to pay partial attention.

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Canadian Content MLS Round 24 – How did our Canadians do in MLS this week?

Aug 26 2014 08:15 PM | James Grossi in 24th Minute

An extension to Canadian Soccer News’ MLS Week in Review, this article provides a closer look at the performances of the Canadian players who saw the pitch this week.

The top three spots this round go to Tesho Akindele, who continued his fine run of form with another point; Wandrille Lefevre, who was intimately involved in the action against New York; and Jonathan Osorio, who was very lively again for Toronto.

Find out what they did to deserve recognition and who else earned their keep this week.

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Emotional Ramblings: Be Reasonable

Aug 25 2014 10:00 PM | Jay Duke in AFTN

Saturday morning, my wife said, "let’s go see a movie tonight." I agreed, and I reminded her that I’d watch the game after we get home. She said, "Oh, right, the game. You sure you don’t want to watch it live?"

"No, it’s okay, they’re going to lose," I said. I continued to explain that the Galaxy are probably the best team in the league. Even though they aren’t winning the race for the Supporter’s Shield, I asserted, they’re close, and they’re known for their apathy early in the season before turning it on when it matters to affirm their dominance. Not only that, I added, we’re missing our best player in Matias Laba, and our recently dominant Gershon Koffie. It’s going to be very difficult to keep the Galaxy at bay, I concluded; we will have to be very lucky to keep the game close.

So, it should be no surprise, that after 90 minutes, the Galaxy were deserved winners by two goals.

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Caps Countdown: Player rankings v Los Angeles Galaxy

Aug 25 2014 08:31 PM | Aaron Campbell in AFTN

"Caps Countdown" is our Vancouver Whitecaps player rankings with a twist. The starting eleven is ranked from eleven to one, from worst to first. Who was the 'man of the match' and who, if anyone, had a game to forget in the 2-0 defeat at the LA Galaxy on Saturday?

Aaron Campbell makes his selections this week. Do you agree?

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MLS Week in Review – Round 24

Aug 25 2014 07:40 PM | James Grossi in 24th Minute

Of rollicking comebacks, the tightening East, table-top clashes, and statements in the West

After 24 rounds of MLS play, just nine weeks remain in the 2014 season. No team has fewer than nine or more than eleven matches still to play and as such, every point is of vital importance. While no club is mathematically eliminated yet, Montreal’s hopes, sitting a full fourteen points adrift, seem slim, while Chivas and San Jose have left themselves with a lot to achieve, nine and eight points off, respectively. Every other of the six remaining clubs currently not inside the playoff spots, are within reach should a result or two come their way over these next two months.

Leaving aside the pair of midweek fixtures, Round 24 saw nine matches played, resulting in two away wins and a solitary draw between Toronto and Chicago. A whopping 34 goals were scored, including a single own-goal – there would have been more were it not for some wonderful saves from a variety of keeper; for the first week in a long time, not a single penalty kick was awarded. Thirty yellow cards were shown, as well as a pair of reds – one straight: to Vancouver’s Johnny Leveron and one accumulative: to Dallas’ Blas Perez.

Harkening back to the earliest editions of this review – which began back in 2011 – there will be a slight change of format, rather than recounting every result in order, they will be woven into a comprehensive narrative. Feedback on the changes will be most welcome in the comments section below.

But before the results; the goals of the round:

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The Good, The Average & The Bad: Guardians of the Galaxy Edition

Aug 25 2014 03:10 AM | Aaron Campbell in AFTN

Vancouver Whitecaps headed to Californian dreaming of their first win against the LA Galaxy in their own backyard. That dream soon turned to a nightmare and it was a case of California Uber Alles once again.

Aaron Campbell takes his regular look at "The Good, The Average & The Bad" from the Caps' 2-0 loss to LA, that wasn't unexpected but still disappointed.

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A Familiar Result at the Hands of Familiar Faces|

Aug 24 2014 03:51 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute

By Rose Rago A announced crowd of 22,591 fans filed into BMO field to witness TFC and Chicago Fire play to a 2-2 draw. Supporters can’t help but feel like their team didn’t earn one point, but rather dropped two. Toronto controlled the majority of th...

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Report and Reaction: LA ripe for the picking but Whitecaps come up fruitless

Aug 24 2014 04:45 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

[Match report and post game reaction from both locker rooms after the LA Galaxy's comfortable 2-0 home win over Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday evening. We hear from Carl Robinson, Kendall Waston and Mauro Rosales from the Whitecaps and the Galaxy's Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Marcelo Sarvas and Omar Gonzalez.]


Vancouver Whitecaps headed into the StubHub Center on Saturday night full of confidence and looking for their first ever road win against the LA Galaxy. Ninety minutes later, they're still looking.

And they'll be looking hard as the Whitecaps were never in this one.

All the plans of taking the game to LA fell apart early when Landon Donovan opened the scoring just five minutes in and the Caps were left chasing the game thereafter.

When Marcelo Sarvas added a second just past the half hour mark, you already knew it was game over.

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The TFC Castaways, Episode 1: The Windy City Conspiracy

Aug 24 2014 01:30 AM | Squizz in Some Canadian Guys

A group of around 100 men is gathered around a gigantic circular table in a dimly-lit, windowless room. A nearby table is filled with unopened bags of potato chips in various flavours -- ketchup, chicken, all dressed. Every so often, a thin tendril of vapour from an e-cigarette floats up to the ceiling from a darkened corner of the room.

Unnamed Man takes a large swig of water from a bottle, carefully reseals it and puts it back on the table.

Unnamed Man: Robbie, Quincy, I've got to say, that's some good work this week.

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Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire Match Preview - Stretch Run Starting

Aug 23 2014 02:42 PM | Michael Crampton in 24th Minute

The World Cup break, the heavy July schedule, and the four game August road trip. The three landmarks of Toronto FC’ summer have passed and the club is on the threshold of the final phase of the 2014 regular season.

A key phrase in the sentence above is “regular season”. For the first time in years, it’s actually worth discussing the possibility of post-season play and what it will take the Reds to get there. Realistically, the minimum criteria for success in 2014, simply qualifying for the playoffs, has become, while not a certainty, more likely than less likely.

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Whitecaps needing to get their Manneh’s worth

Aug 23 2014 04:15 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN

What in the world has happened to Kekuta Manneh?

We’re not exactly sure, but the signs at training this week are that we could be about to get some of the Manneh of old back again.

After stunning fans across the world with his hat-trick against Seattle last October, the speedy Gambian has never looked like hitting those dizzy heights this season and all the press talk about an imminent move to the Premiership seem quite foolish now.

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