Jan 30 2015 12:42 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN
It's the most wonderful time, of the year. Vancouver Whitecaps preseason camp is open.
That means the new MLS season isn't too far away (CBA pending!) and it's a time we genuinely love here at AFTN. You get far more interesting stories and narratives as veterans return, new signings show what they've got and draft picks and trialists want to show that they belong and have a place in the squad.
New faces are everywhere and we have exclusive chats with a lot of them on this episode of "There's Still Time", the AFTN podcast, and discussions about the rest.
The center back stable has been the biggest roster readjustment of this offseason, we talk to one of the three new additions, MLS SuperDraft selection Tim Parker, about settling in to MLS and Vancouver, what he hopes to achieve this season and what he needs to do to impress Carl Robinson.
Vancouver's second round draft pick was forward Kay Banjo. Described by Robinson as a "project", we talk to Kay about making the step up to MLS, his college career and what he can bring to the Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps kept it local with their next SuperDraft pick, BC boy and SFU Clan forward Jovan Blagojevic. We chat with Jovan on the day of his selection as his childhood dreams of becoming a professional footballer has been realised.
Another local lad joining the MLS fold is Residency alumni Ben McKendry. Ben's new homegrown contract was announced on Monday and we caught up with the midfielder after his first training session as a professional footballer to talk about leaving college early to make the move to MLS, his footballing journey so far, and much more. We also hear coach Carl Robinson's thoughts on his new homegrown signing.
And there's still time to catch up with a wily veteran, birthday boy Jordan Harvey, fresh from an ice bath. He tells us about the pleasures and pitfalls of having a birthday during football season!
Jan 28 2015 08:03 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
It took a year longer than some would have liked, but League1 Ontario is launching a women’s division. The regional semi-pro set-up had a successful launch on the men’s side in 2014 with nine teams completing the first season. It wasn’t perfect – 10...
Jan 28 2015 06:00 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN
Carl Robinson rates new Whitecaps homegrown signing Ben McKendry highly. So much so that the 'Caps coach wanted the 21-year-old to know that whenever he felt he was ready to finish his college career, there was a professional contract waiting for him in Vancouver.
McKendry now has that contract with the hometown club he has grown up with. The Vancouver native has gone from watching the Whitecaps as an 8-year-old behind the goal in the Southside at Swangard, through the club's Residency program and now onto the first team squad. It's the homegrown success story that every club in MLS wants.
The midfielder has been training with the Whitecaps MLS squad in his downtime from college for the past couple of years, but as the 'Caps preseason camp opened on Monday, McKendry got to take to the pitch for the first time as a professional footballer. So how was he feeling?
"Butterflies," McKendry admitted to AFTN when we caught up with him afterwards. "It's quite exciting just walking down here from the locker room. Seeing people walk by and they give you kind of a funny look because they know you're playing for the Whitecaps. It's pretty exciting."
Jan 27 2015 09:23 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
A player that was widely seen as being a Ryan Nelsen acquisition has been moved out of town. Dominic Oduro was traded to Montreal for allocation. This being MLS we will never know what that exactly means or whether TFC got the better of the deal. How...
Jan 27 2015 08:29 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
Last fall, CSN reported that Gilberto wasn't expected to be back with Toronto FC. At the time the reaction was mostly disappointment mixed with a little hopeful skepticism. Old Gil grew on people and what I was reporting was based on the fact that he...
Jan 26 2015 06:20 PM | Michael McColl in AFTN
Vancouver Whitecaps Residency alumni Ben McKendry had a standout NCAA season with New Mexico Lobos last year. The midfielder earned multiple accolades and the attention of scouts throughout North America, and now he has earned a MLS homegrown contract off the back off it.
The Whitecaps' 30 man MLS roster is already pretty close to bursting at the seams, but there's always room to be made for more talent, especially if it's one of your own.
McKendry has played for the Whitecaps in Residency, PDL and the MLS Reserve League. He showed this year that he is ready for Major League Soccer. Carl Robinson agrees and after three years at college, the 21-year-old is heading back to Vancouver as a MLS player.
Making the switch at this particular stage of his career looks to be the best move for both the player and the 'Caps.
Jan 26 2015 02:43 AM | Rose_Rago in 24th Minute
Soccer coaches from across the country will be in Toronto this week to attend Canada’s largest coaching education conference at the University of Toronto. The National Soccer Coaching Conference (NSCC) kicks off its fourth annual weekend for coaches t...
Jan 24 2015 05:51 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
There is still work to be done if TFC is to convince the OSA to allow the club to play in the PDL next year. On Thursday night TFC took its case directly to the OSA Board of Directors. Previously the board had voted to deny TFC's request, but it grant...
Jan 24 2015 12:30 AM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
The u20s failed.
It's really that simple. They had the resources they needed to succeed and they failed. So, we move forward after taking time to understand what went wrong.
The truth is that sometimes athletes of all ages have a bad week. So, it's important to not get bogged down into the specifics of this particular u20 team when evaluating the overall system. Instead, we need to look at that system to evaluate whether this was a case of a bad week, the talent simply not being good enough, or if the answer is somewhere in between.
Jan 23 2015 07:15 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
Multiple local sources are confirming that TFC's efforts to add central defender Damien Perquis have been successful. Additionally this Polish report is reporting that the French-Polish player is in Toronto today, where he has passed his medical. La...
Jan 22 2015 11:20 PM | Michael McColl in AFTN
We may be looking forward to the start of the new USL PRO season, but it's fair to say that information regarding the new Whitecaps team (WFC2) is somewhat thin on the ground right now.
The new USL PRO campaign will get underway at the end of March, and although we are still to find out who the head coach of the new Whitecaps team will be, which players will be on the roster and what the schedule will look like, it's also fair to say that a lot of work is going on behind the scenes and we should see the results of it all soon.
There may have been no official squad announcements just yet, but from information we have gleaned and from conversations that we've had, we can start to piece together just what the new WFC2 roster may look like.
Jan 22 2015 10:23 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
Canadian Soccer News has learned that there is a meeting scheduled for tonight where TFC will plead its case to start a PDL team this summer. The OSA previously rejected the request. The PDL is a league primarily designed to be a place for NCAA player...
Jan 22 2015 03:18 AM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
It seemed fitting that TFC would formally announce its USL-Pro team just days after the u20s crashed and burned out of qualifying. After all, the addition of three USL-Pro teams attached to the MLS sides is widely thought to be the cure to much that is wrong with our system.
It goes without saying that the issues in Canadian development go beyond what three USL-Pro teams can fix, but for now let's not dwell on the negative. It's helpful. Or, at least it should be.
In the past, the attrition rate in Canadian soccer has been absurd. Even the 2013 u20 class is full of players just hanging on to pro spots. Few are seeing significant minutes. With Doneil Henry now in England, only Maxime Crepeau and Caleb Clarke are left on a Canadian MLS team's first team roster. And neither really play.
B.C. boy Jovan Blagojevic undergoes "overload of emotions" following surprise draft selection by Vancouver Whitecaps
Jan 21 2015 02:33 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN
Vancouver Whitecaps kept it local with their first pick of the third round of the MLS SuperDraft on Tuesday, selecting Simon Fraser University Clan captain, and Coquitlam native, Jovan Blagojevic.
The 'Caps selected the striker 54th overall, as Blagojevic became the Clan's first ever player to be selected in a MLS draft, which can only benefit the program in years to come.
The pick will have surprised many, not least Blagojevic himself who didn't even know that he was on the Whitecaps radar and when we spoke with him a few hours after being drafted, it still hadn't really all sunk in yet.
"It feels very surreal," Blagojevic told AFTN. "I honestly can't believe that something I've dreamt about as a little boy is actually coming true. It's quite an overload of emotions that are going through me."
Fury FC Updates – Re-signing of M Ubiparipovic, D Beckie, GK DeBellis, F Oliver, F Davies, Signing of LB Randolph
Jan 20 2015 09:27 PM | ironcub14 in OttCityFootie
There’s been a lot of positive roster updates for the Fury FC since the turn of the new year. With 15 players signed on for the 2015 season and the Fall Season schedule released today, the team is getting in shape and the fans are starting to feel the positive energy.
Jan 20 2015 12:58 AM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
There is no guarantee the signing of Sebastian Giovinco will make TFC good.
There is no guarantee that the signing won't work either.
Such is the nature of any signing, especially a DP signing in MLS where there are so many factors at play. People tend to view TFC signings in the context of eight years of history, seven of which had nothing to do with the current management. In that context, TFC will find a way to screw up even the most promising situation.
There is little point arguing with that position. It's not based on logic. It's either based on partisanship, or on pessimism.
Jan 19 2015 06:00 PM | Aaron Campbell in AFTN
Vancouver Whitecaps announced that they had secured Carl Robinson and his coaching team onto new multi-year contracts on Sunday. After last season's offseason of instability, it's been a far different story as the Caps head into the 2015 season and the extension of Robinson, Gordon Forrest, Martyn Pert and Marius Rovde is just another part of that.
Locking down Robinson has been applauded by pretty much all pundits and fans alike. Aaron Campbell looks at the good, the average and the bad aspects of it all...
Jan 18 2015 09:30 PM | Michael McColl in AFTN
MLS Designated Players have been very much in the news this month. A lot of comings, some goings and a few what happenings have been the talk of the towns.
As things currently stand, Vancouver Whitecaps Designated Players slots are currently full. But never say never. This is MLS after all.
Whitecaps captain Pedro Morales, the recently re-signed Matias Laba and newly acquired striker Octavio Rivero are Vancouver's three DPs right now, and they've managed to retain the former Chivas (and League) Designated Player Mauro Rosales on a non-DP contract. It's already like having four, but coach Carl Robinson isn't ruling out the possibility of being able to add another to the mix, or another preseason raid on TFC.
Jan 16 2015 07:54 PM | Squizz in Some Canadian Guys
With the Women's World Cup now less than five months away, Canada couldn't have asked for a better start to 2015.
Big Red went a perfect three-for-three in the BaoAn Cup this week, rattling off 2-1 victories against South Korea, Mexico and the host nation. That final game of the four-nations tournament was probably the most important, as Canada opens the World Cup group stage against China at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on June 6.
And while three wins on a long-haul road trip are certainly cause for celebration amongst Canadian fans, perhaps the most encouraging development at the tournament was who scored -- Christine Sinclair, who tallied the 149th, 150th and 151st goals of her illustrious national-team career.
Like it or not, Canada's fortunes at the World Cup will ride heavily upon what Sinclair can bring to the table -- and if her performance in China is a sign that we'll be seeing the Sincy of old, it could indeed be a game-changer for the World Cup hosts.
Jan 16 2015 07:25 PM | Duane Rollins in 24th Minute
It was a deal.
No blood. No bus. No fans singing from the cheap seats. And, no Tim Leiweke.
Just a deal. And, that's just the way that Tim Bezbatchenko said he wanted it.
“For me it's about winning,” he said in the post press conference scrum. “So we can talk about our signing, we can talk about our vision...but in the end we need to give back to the fans winning teams.”
Joking that they could have maybe parked a Ford in Maple Leaf Square, the implication was clear. This signing, to him, was about football not marketing.”
Kay Banjo overcomes axing of college soccer program to make dream move to the pros with Vancouver Whitecaps
Jan 16 2015 08:43 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN
What do you do when the university you're attending decides to stop it's soccer program entirely when you're about to head into your senior year?
That was the nightmare scenario facing Vancouver Whitecaps' second round draft pick Kay Banjo in 2013 when the Maryland based Towson University decided to cut the men's soccer and baseball programs to help address a budget shortfall.
Baseball got a reprieve till 2015 but soccer was axed leaving Banjo and many others wondering if their dreams of playing in the pro ranks were over?
Banjo sat out the 2013 NCAA soccer season entirely, staying at Towson to finish a degree in sports management in the summer of 2014, but then his fortunes changed in dramatic fashion.
The striker moved across state to the University of Maryland Baltimore County (where former Whitecap Matt Watson played for two years) for one final year at college and his team-leading eight goals and five assists from 23 games helped guide the Retrievers to the NCAA Final Four for the first time in the school's history, and a narrow 1-0 semi-final defeat to eventual College Cup champions Virginia.
Jan 16 2015 03:21 AM | Michael McColl in AFTN
Going in to today's MLS SuperDraft, Carl Robinson had talked about the perennial quandary teams face - do you pick the best player available or make your selections based on squad needs?
By selecting 21-year-old St John's University centreback Tim Parker in the first round and 22-year-old University of Maryland Baltimore County forward Kay Banjo in the second, Robinson rightly primarily went down the latter route.
When talking to the media on Wednesday, Robinson had identified three areas of his squad that he felt still needed to be strengthen - centre back, the wide area and the forward position. Two, perhaps all three, of those needs were ticked with Thursday's two draft selections in what Robinson referred to as a "promising draft" for the Whitecaps.
Whitecaps draft pick Tim Parker fired up and ready to go with team that "instils faith" in younger players
Jan 15 2015 10:36 PM | Michael McColl in AFTN
Vancouver Whitecaps continued to shore up their backline with the drafting of St John's University centreback Tim Parker in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft.
With Andy O'Brien, and seemingly Johnny Leveron, moving on, coach Carl Robinson has already stated his intention to carry five players in the centreback position for the season ahead. Parker now takes that number to four, following the loan signing of Uruguayan Diego Rodriguez on Wednesday.
Described by Robinson as "the best player at the combine", the Whitecaps got the player they wanted from the first round of the draft, despite their lowly 13th place selection and the Whitecaps feel they have a player who can challenge for a first team spot right away, whilst also getting valuable developmental minutes in the 'Caps new USL PRO side.
For Parker, the lure of coming to a MLS team that gives younger players real opportunities fires him up and he is already targeting 10 to 15 starts this coming season.