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Found 47 results

  1. There's a new king in town. Long live King Carl. Carl Robinson was officially confirmed as the new Whitecaps head coach today, so we're bringing you a Robbo heavy episode 31 of "There's Still Time", the AFTN Vancouver Whitecaps podcast. We chat about Robinson's appointment, what it means for the future direction of the Whitecaps and hear a cutdown section of his introductory press conference. Even though he had a jam packed morning, Carl made time to sit down with Steve and myself for a special podcast chat about his appointment, his managerial influences, who he might have his eye on to bring in, what his team will look like, the future for the young players at the club and lots more. And talking of the younger players, everybody agrees they need to find them more playing time, but where will they find it? We speak with Whitecaps President Bobby Lenarduzzi about whether the Caps will be getting their own USL Pro team any time soon. Have a listen. For now, you can listen to this week's podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we've joined Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 15,000 shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  2. We hear from those homegrown signings, Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese about their new MLS deals and we get the thoughts of Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson on the pair. Those were the only two signings announced on Monday before the MLS roster freeze and Whitecaps President Bobby Lenarduzzi tells us why and talks about the USL Pro situation, the season run-in and more. Keeping with the young theme we hear from Christian Dean about his first MLS start in last week's game against Dallas and from the guy that scored Vancouver's goal down there, and who everyone hopes is going to go on another streak, Erik Hurtado. Turning attention to back to the remainder of the MLS season, we hear from Robinson and some of the players about being in a full playoff mindset already and how each of these remaining six games is already basically a playoff game if Vancouver want to reach the postseason once again. Robinson also looks ahead to this weekend's big Cascadia Cup clash in Portland and we hear from some of the players - goalkeeper David Ousted, centreback Andy O'Brien and midfielders Matias Laba, Mauro Rosales and Russell Teibert. A busy show for a busy week! Have a listen! You can listen to this week's podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we've joined Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 15,000 shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  3. Have a listen! You can listen to this week's podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we've joined Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 15,000 shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  4. And there's still time to continue my Carlton Cole rumours and start a new Robbie Keane one. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  5. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  6. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  7. The battle lines have been clearly drawn. It's going to be a feisty affair. Get in the mood and have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below! ** Don't forget to check out the new AFTN website at aftn.ca **
  8. Phew! All the game build up you can shake a stick at, so have a listen. You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  9. You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  10. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  11. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  12. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  13. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  14. You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  15. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  16. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  17. Rennie used that April radio interview to blow his own trumpet for his achievements with the Whitecaps and to clearly have a not-so-veiled dig at what Robinson would have to achieve to be classed as what he felt was a successful replacement. "I kind of feel fine about how it ended," Rennie told Matt Sekeres in the interview. "I think that as a coach, you always think that given more time you could do more with it. The team I inherited was the worst team in MLS. It improved quite a lot in the first year and it improved again in the second year. "I felt that when I started we were probably about 40 points from being first in MLS and when I finished there we were nine points from being first and that's a massive, massive improvement. I'm a pretty harsh critic of myself and there's things that I'm sure I could have done better and I know that I could of, but I also think that generally there was a lot of success there and there was a solid platform now to build a good club. "So as long as they go on now and continue to develop, I think it was 11 wins then 13 wins, so they need to go 15, 16 wins to show that development and then you've got a solid MLS team. In Major League Soccer, it's a very, very tight league. You're not going to win every game and you're probably, even if you have a great season, lose 10 or 11 games a season, so I feel good about it." So let's just review what Rennie's achievements actually were and how Robinson actually stacks up with them. He took the worst team in MLS in 2011 and got them to the playoffs a year later. An excellent accomplishment, even though some felt that they eventually backed in. At the time, we said we held no sway with that. They didn't back in, they got in due to their early season form and the points they put up on the board. Rennie achieved the playoffs in his first season, so has Robinson after basically rebuilding the team. If you look at the starters for the Caps against Colorado, three were brought in by Rennie and six by Robinson (two players, Jordan Harvey and Russell Teibert, predated both). In 2012 under Rennie, Vancouver had an 11-13-10 record and 43 points. They made the playoffs with four points to spare, scoring 35 goals and conceding 41 along the way. They got their first MLS away win in Rennie's first road game in charge and got three for the whole season. The Caps kept 12 clean sheets over the season and eventually finished 5th in the West, 23 points behind the Supporters Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes, and were 11th overall in the MLS combined points standings. They failed to win a match against their Cascadian rivals, with three draws and three defeats, obviously failing to lift the Cascadia Cup. They also failed to lift the Voyageurs Cup and clinch a spot in the Champions League. A year later in 2013, Rennie guided the Whitecaps to their then highest ever MLS points total of 48 and their most ever number of wins, 13, but it still wasn't enough to get Vancouver into the playoffs and they fell three points short. Their overall record was 13-12-9 as they finished 7th in the West and dropped to the 13th best record overall in the MLS combined points standings. They scored their most ever goals in MLS with 53 but conceded their second highest total so far with 45, keeping seven clean sheets. They got their first ever win over a Cascadian rival and actually managed two that season, both over Seattle, including their first Cascadian away win. Still no joy in the Voyageurs Cup, blowing their opportunity to wrap it up at BC Place. So now we move to Carl Robinson's first year in charge. He's finished his rookie regular season with a 12-8-14 record and 50 points. That the highest points total so far, not just by the Whitecaps in MLS, but any Canadian club. Those 12 wins included three on the road and three against their Cascadian rivals (two of those being away victories). Rennie said in that radio interview that there would have to be 15 or 16 wins to show a continued improvement, which was of course just nonsense. Yes, the number dropped by one from last season to, which means nothing when you look at the fact that Vancouver still produced their highest ever MLS points total to finish 5th in the West and produced their highest ever finish in the Supporters' Shield standings of 9th. To finish the ninth best team in MLS, unbeaten against all Eastern Conference opposition and only losing three matches to those teams above them in the West (two to LA and one to Dallas), is one hell of an achievement for Robinson in his first year as a head coach. And, as we keep saying, all without an actual striker for more than half the year! Rennie said that even in a "great" season you'd lose 10 or 11 games. This season the Caps lost 8. The second best record in all of MLS. Still no Voyageurs Cup, but there is a CONCACAF Champions League spot to look forward to next year for the first time. And back to back Cascadia Cup in the bag. But the improvements to the Whitecaps under Robinson are measured in more than just stats, so let's move away from the numbers. Robinson promised to make the team younger and to develop youth. Now to many, including us, we took that to mean homegrown Residency talent of current and recent years. That was how it was looking preseason and you did feel it was going to be a major developmental year if that's how things panned out. They didn't and Robinson made shrewd signings to go with what was already there. Of the 28 players currently on the Caps MLS roster, 18 are 24-years-old or younger. That's one hell of a building block for future seasons and eight of those are 'homegrowns', including the latest additions of Kianz Froese and Marco Bustos. These players have all gained invaluable experience this season. Some will move on to pastures new in a few weeks time, but they'll be replaced by others (the likes of Mitch Piraux and Ben McKendry are waiting in the wings). Rennie talked a good game about young players but there was very little evidence of his development of them. There's also the harmony in the dressing room. It's certainly the best I've ever seen since covering the Caps from 2008. When you have experience players like Andy O'Brien and Pedro Morales describing it as "special", and a new addition like Mauro Rosales saying it's the best dressing room he's been a part of, the management need to get a lot of credit for building that with the addition of the right personnel. Back on the pitch, Robinson has brought a refreshing attacking mindset on the road, in general. Still not perfect and maybe still a bit one dimensional and easily read at times, but a major improvement in the entertainment factor. And it's brought results too. Things are by no means perfect. Robbo has perhaps been too loyal to some of his players this year, giving them too many chances that they simply haven't taken. He's shielded them from the flak that they perhaps needed to be hit with. Then there's the whole inability to land a striker, which still may ultimately cost them in the postseason, and the team has been a bit too predictable in their style of play on occasion and easily countered. But a rookie manager will make such mistakes and he will learn, and Robinson has done that as the season progressed. Martin Rennie and his team (of which Robinson was obviously a part) do deserve major kudos for turning the Whitecaps around from the worst team in MLS in a disastrous inaugural season in the league. Sometimes I don't think people gave them the proper credit or fully understood just what a big achievement that was. MLS parity rules help to some extent but the players and management still then have to get the job done. But give me Robinson's Whitecaps any day of the week. The players are more talented and exciting. The attitude throughout the squad is so much better. There is a real buzz at training and a real team spirit and that has transferred onto results on the pitch. There's been actual youth development. There's still a lot of work to do and the Western Conference is only going to get even tougher next year with the likely additions of Sporting KC and Houston at the expense of the clusterfuck that was Chivas USA. Robinson still has that difficult second album phase ahead of him that signalled the end of his predecessor. He's set the bar high with this rookie season and it's not over yet. Following it up next year is a big ask of any manager and Robinson will know that. Once you achieve success, there's no looking back and limited allowance for future failure. Having never won in Dallas, the Caps could realistically go one and out again in the playoffs. It would feel like such a major anti-climax after the intensity of the last five games, but whatever happens, how the Caps move on is the key now. And under Robinson, you can only have hopes for the future. Now the pressure really begins.
  18. One month later and Banjo is in the pro ranks with the Whitecaps. It's quite the story and turnaround for the 22-year-old and one he didn't think he'd ever see coming. "It's a dream come true," Banjo told AFTN. "I've been working at this for years and it's a great feeling for it to finally come true. Banjo still remembers the shock and heartbreak of the meeting that broke the news that Towson were axing their soccer program. Staying on and finishing his degree was the only option he seriously considered, even if it meant no soccer. A meeting with UMBC head coach Pete Carinji Jr convinced him that taking a year out and then trying to go pro was not the right option or timing for the young striker and he made the move to the Retrievers for one final college year. It proved to be the right decision, with UMBC, led by Banjo, going further than any side from the school had previously managed, and coming to within one game of playing for the NCAA National Championship. After everything that had happened, it was an amazing experience for Banjo and one he'll never forget. "Because of where I came from, being in the tournament the next year, it wasn't anything that I thought was going to happen. God always has his plans and it worked out for the best. It was a great feeling and I'd never change that for anything." Banjo certainly seems to be an exciting prospect and a striker that has been able to find the back of the net on a regular basis in the college ranks. He shone with the Towson Tigers, scoring 15 goals and contributing 11 assists in 43 games during his three years there. As mentioned, he continued to find the back of the net when he switched to UMBC, and was unanimously named the America East Conference 'Striker of the Year' for 2014. Banjo went through a bit of a dry spell to end the season though, going six games without a goal or an assist. Consistency is definitely going to be a key for the talented striker moving forward and something which Carl Robinson has already identified. "I've seen exactly the same as you," Robinson told us in a conference call yesterday. "I've seen exceptional talent in him but I haven't seen enough consistency. Part of my job as a coach is to try and get him more consistent and with the opportunity we'll have with a lot of Major League Soccer games and USL games, there will be chance for him to do that. "Because if we can get him consistent, there's no doubt that he's got talent. You can't just have talent and no consistency, so it's a little project of ours and mine and it's one that I'm excited for. I do see a lot of raw potential in him." When you ask Banjo what aspect of his game he feels he needs to improve in most, he feels what every young player should feel when starting off in the pros - every aspect of it. And consistency is part of that. "It's the coach that's sees it more," Banjo told us. "Every player really has to think about everything but that's the coach's job to see it and if that's how he feels I just have to put my head down and figure it out and work on improving." Robinson is big on character and speaking to Banjo for ten minutes, you soon see that he is another player that fits right into the mould of player that the Whitecaps are looking to bring in to the squad. He's grounded, he's confident without being cocky, he seems a nice, humble, quiet guy, who has the skills on the pitch to back it all up and some hard life lessons to learn from after what played out at Towson. Described by Robinson as a "raw" talent, but one with real potential if he thrives in the professional environment now afforded to him. It's now up to him to see if he can take it and move on to that next level. As with all draft picks, you have no idea what way this will really all go, but he'll get his chances. Fellow draftee Tim Parker felt that there was a real connection between himself and Robinson when they had their pre-draft chat at the combine, and it's a feeling echoed by Banjo. So just how did that chat go? "He pretty much pointed out all my strengths at the combine. It just seemed like everything I said was already what he was thinking and pretty much that's what drew us together. We really did click in the conversation. "We talked mainly about mainly about myself, not soccer as much. But the times we talked about soccer it was much the same thing we were thinking and that showed we connected." Robinson is always keen to know what makes a player tick off the pitch. What motivates them, what interests them away from soccer. For Banjo, it's simple. "Just being close to the family and being surrounded by good people. Nothing really big. I'm just a people person. I just try to surround myself with positivized people." And he'll find a lot of those around the Whitecaps right now, although he doesn't know and hasn't come across any existing 'Caps in his soccer career so far and is another who has never been to Canada before. "I don't know one player from Vancouver [personally]. I mean they're really far up there!" he joked with us. "I don't really know anybody there but I'm excited to find out and meet new people." Coming to a Whitecaps MLS squad, already almost bursting at the seems, Banjo knows he needs to hit the ground running and impress once the preseason training camp gets up and running next weekend. So for those who haven't seen him play before, how would he describe his game and the skills and qualities he'll bring to Vancouver? "I'm quick on the ball, I'm quick thinking. Great team player and I'm versatile. I can play on the wing or forward, wherever is needed. A lot of long range shots. I have vision. Strong, powerful, quick. The lot." He can certainly shoot and registered 180 of them in his four years and 65 games at college. That's an average of just under three a game, with almost a 3.5 average during his time with UMBC last year. He's primarily played forward at college level but when the Whitecaps drafted him, it was hard to see him getting too much initial opportunity to that right now. Kekuta Manneh has struggled to find those minutes and you may see Banjo get minutes in that position in USL PRO, whilst being turned into a winger in the process. He certainly has the speed and skill to make that adjustment but what does he see as his preferred position? "I'd rather play the forward role," Banjo told us. "If it's needed I'll play on the wing too but I feel comfortable in both spots." Talking of USL PRO, it's also hard not to see that being where Robinson sees the 22-year-old striker fitting in right now. If that is where he ends up for most of this year, it's an opportunity Banjo is already approaching with the right attitude. "Playing that it gives you development for the first team I feel like. If that's what the coach feels that that's what I have to do to prove myself, then I will." Wherever Banjo ends up getting minutes in 2015, the big benefit for him is that he's coming to a club that doesn't just talk about playing younger players but actually does it and that's something that himself, Parker and others are all very aware and excited by. "That's what got me interested in everything he was saying," Banjo said of his initial chats with Robinson. "He's more about the younger players and development. That's what he saw in me and I'm excited to join."
  19. Reason enough for some mixed emotions heading into Wednesday night's Canadian Championship decider as the two clubs meet in the second leg of the final to determine Canadian representation in the CONCACAF Champions League with the tie delicately poised – TFC leads 1-0 heading into BC Place. The Welshman joined the club prior to the inaugural season after a long career in England, spent mostly between the Premier and Football Leagues, as they prepared to embark on their debut campaign. “I knew it was a growing league, a development league, and I knew also they were trying to attract bigger players,” said Robinson from the KIA Training Ground last Thursday. “For me, it was a decision made to get on the coaching ladder. I saw opportunities for young managers and I was still at the right age of 29. It was a lifestyle decision for me, it wasn't financial. And I took the opportunity to join Toronto because they were a new franchise and Mo Johnson invited me in.” Robinson made some 84 appearances in all competitions for TFC, including eight Voyageurs Cup matches and two in the Champions League – he scored three goals over that period and was twice named Player of the Year (jointly with Brennan in 2007 and solo in 2008). His 74 MLS appearances account for 82.2% (repeating, of course) of the club's first 90 matches, encompassing those first three seasons. He was one of the brightest parts of an often dark origin. But with the start of the 2010 season, came a trade to New York, where he finished his career before taking up a coaching position in Vancouver; first as an assistant in 2012 and taking the full reigns ahead of the 2014 season. Since then, he has seen MLS grow immeasurably, little-by-little. “[The progression] has been phenomenal. It really has,” said Robinson. “It makes me laugh sometimes because it's growing every year, getting better every year. Players are getting better, the cap is rising, the coaches are getting better, the support is increasing... but,” he continued, “everyone wants to run before they can walk.” “Major League Soccer are doing a good job in letting it grow slowly, continuing the process rather than going all in. [Risking that] then there would be a massive drop off, or failure in some departments, and you'll have to reset again. All credit to MLS in the way they're growing, individual clubs, but also the league, at a steady pace.” Speaking from the glorious training grounds at Downsview Park, still in Toronto after Tuesday night's first leg ahead of a match in Philadelphia on the weekend – in his days, TFC wandered the city in search of parks or trained on the previous, artificial surface at BMO Field – Robinson shared his view on the progress he has seen in his teammates-turned-opponents. “In the two-and a half, three years I was here, there was a turnover of about 80-odd players – you get to know someone and you're saying goodbye to them the very next day,” recalled Robinson. “And I was one of them included when I left to go to the New York Red Bulls.” “The club is a very good club, they've got great ownership in MLSE. It's good people and they've got a little bit of stability now, and any club needs a bit of stability. Everyone wants to be successful in the short term, and happen overnight, but, unfortunately, that isn't football; it doesn't happen overnight.” “I'm glad for them they've managed to stabilize themselves and you see the growth in Toronto, they're bringing in the likes of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco. That's all credit to them,” he concluded. Whilst it may have been an unsatisfactory end to his time in Toronto, Wednesday, a chance to hoist a trophy over his former club, will still be awkward. “It is [weird going up against a former club],” said Robinson, adding, “but I've done it enough in England. I was fortunate enough to play for seven, eight different teams, and every week I seemed to be going up against my old team.” “I've got a lot of respect for the club, I've got a lot of friends still here. I'll always have that special feeling with supporters. Unfortunately, some of them won't like me now, because I'm manager of Vancouver – it is what it is. But nothing will change my thoughts on the club.” Robinson famously did not celebrate, appearing almost sheepish when he scored the coup-de-grace, a stunning header, in a 4-1 dismantling of TFC when he returned with the Red Bulls in 2010, but will he be so kind should Vancouver overturn the deficit on Wednesday? “Toronto are 1-0 ahead in the tie, so it's going to be difficult for us. I didn't celebrate, if you look at players who go back to their old clubs, 99% of them celebrate because they feel the way they left wasn't how they wanted – the way I left wasn't how I wanted – but the admiration for the club that I had was a mark of respect for them because I was here for two-and-a-half years, and it was good times.” “Life's too short to be bitter, so I wasn't and I didn't celebrate, and I'm glad I didn't.” Regardless of who wins on Wednesday, Vancouver or Toronto, with Robinson and his split history involved, it will be yet another moment to add to the growing folklore of Canadian soccer.
  20. You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  21. There's a lot of chat to be had, so have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  22. "The group are very lively, they've very competitive," Robinson told reporters after training on Thursday. "They're disagreeing on certain things, which is good, but they're talking and when you have a young group of players it's important that they communicate with each other respectfully. "We're coming along slowly, but nicely. If we can add one or two more into the picture then that will help us as well." So just how close or how far away are the Whitecaps from where he wants them to be right now? "I'm probably never where I want to be, in relation to the group and how good we can be," Robinson told us. "I don't think any football manager, unless he wins the Champions League, will ever say he will be. "Are we in a much better place this year than we were last year? 100%. Without a doubt. We're more organised, we're more planned. Most of the group have come back this year as well. We've added key additions, which is always important, but we've kept the core group together. "So we're not far away. Will we be up to speed come the first game of the season? No, we won't be 100% fit but we weren't last year and we managed to get off to a good start, so we are working towards that. When we will reach peak fitness, I don't know. Will there be more additions, yes, there certainly will. When? I don't know, but we're always a work in progress." The Whitecaps featured four trialists down for their first preseason trip of the year down in Tucson a couple of weeks ago. Although there will be some new faces down in Oregon as well, it's not likely to be ones in the first team reckoning. "There's a couple of guys coming in, basically to have a look at them for the USL team, so we'll add a few numbers there," Robinson said. "There's no-one really on trial at the moment that I'm looking at for the first team because the guys I maybe have on our radar, you won't be able to get on trial." No-one apart from Robert Earnshaw that is. The Welshman is the only Tucson trialist to have stuck around. As he told us last week, he'd love to call Vancouver his new home and impart some of his knowledge onto a young Whitecaps' strikeforce, but as with many things in MLS when it comes to contracts, things are not just that easy. "There's been communication between me and Earnie every day," Robinson is happy to admit. "There's a number of factors that come in to that. There's what's our priority position and I think you know we've got another priority position first, which will depend on how much money we leave open for another spot, but also the CBA. "We don't know what's going to happen there with the cap and things like that, so we'll just keep it open-minded about that, but the communication happens every day. Until we need to make a decision, or he needs to make a decision, then we'll keep it moving forward." The priority position that Robinson talks about is that of the left wing. The Whitecaps have no real natural left winger. Sure they have a number of players than can play there, like Nicolas Mezquida, Kekuta Manneh, Erik Hurtado and Darren Mattocks, but that role is not a natural one, or a preferred one, for any of those guys. Although he won't come right out and say it, you can tell that Robinson would love to have the chance to keep an experienced player, and a proven goalscorer, like Earnshaw around if he can make it happen within the salary cap. To fill the left wing role with the calibre of player that Robinson wants will take money. To do that and keep Earnshaw around, will take some creative accounting and the likelihood of moving one, maybe even two, of the higher earners on. Standing in the way right now of any of that happening is of course the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) talks between the league and the players. Both parties still seem far apart, but until the new CBA is signed, sealed and delivered, the Whitecaps, and every other team in the league, simply don't know what they're dealing with financewise and rosterwise for the current season. How much can they spend? Will there be an additional DP spot? What other weird rules will come into play that we'll only hear about when Seattle, LA or Toronto add a new player? With all this in mind, how much does the CBA wrangling and the uncertainty of what may lie ahead mess with Robinson's plans for strengthening the current squad? "It doesn't upset me too much because I always prepare for the worst case scenario," Robinson told us. "What I won't do, is I won't put the club at risk for next year and the year after because there's no need to do that. "If you're building, which we are, it's important that you pre-prepare everything and I've got plans for six months, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months ahead. If I think it's right for the club to bring in a player then I certainly will do it. If it means me being over the salary cap but I think it's the right thing to do, then I'll certainly do it and I'll try and make adjustments other than that with it. "So it doesn't affect me really. It won't change my focus. I know it probably changes the player's focus, because they're trying to agree it now, but hopefully everything will get agreed and we'll move forward happy." The Whitecaps added some big names in Matias Laba and Pedro Morales to their MLS roster down in Portland last year. Unless the CBA talks get wrapped up pretty darn quick, then that's looking less likely this year. Vancouver won the Portland tournament last year and will be looking for more of the same this time around, but as fiercely contested as the three games will be, Robinson is most concerned with the performances of his players as the week goes on rather than the wins, although beating your Cascadian rivals is always nice. "I think even a Portland staff game might have some feeling in it, if I'm being honest!" he joked. "It's a pre-season game, it's a rivalry game, so results don't really matter but performances do. My players are fighting to get into the team, so I don't think there's ever a friendly game against Portland." As mentioned, there will also be an additional bonus game with the Whitecaps younger players taking on their Timbers counterparts on Saturday evening at 7pm in a closed doors match. The game will give them another chance to show Robinson that they are knocking on the door for MLS minutes. "I think it'll be good, but the only tricky thing of it is that the game is on Saturday, which is the day before the first team game. Ideally we would have liked it the day after, so that the guys that didn't play [could play]. So we're going to have to plan it properly. "But there will be guys who get extra minutes on Saturday that will be part of Sunday's game and there will be guys who play a lot on Saturday who aren't part of Sunday's game, and there will be guys who don't play on Saturday full stop. "So I will plan it so that we have four games in a week, which is important for all the squad, so they'll get plenty of minutes." Vancouver kick off this year's tournament against the hosts. Last year they wrapped up their against Portland. By that game Robinson had pretty much nailed down his starting eleven for the next week's MLS kick off against New York. Chicago are last up for the 'Caps this year, so will Robinson be hoping to have his first choice starters take the field in that game this time around as well? "Ideally, yeah," Robinson said before cautioning the players, fans and pundits alike. "As I keep stressing to the group, because people keep trying to find out who my starting right back's going to be, my starting left back, I can give you and idea but what happens if he gets to the day before the first game injured? "I want to keep the competition fair, and it is fair, but I also want to keep the group hungry. If you're in the starting team against Chicago, which is one week before the start of the season, then you can read into it all you want, but if you train poorly all week and you get injured on the last day then you certainly won't be starting. They're jockeying for places."
  23. The game got off to the best possible start for the young 'Caps when Cole Morokhovich headed home Daniel Sagno's cross just over a minute in. It looked like the scene was set for a joyous and historic night up on the mountain at SFU and the Whitecaps went for the killer second. Despite numerous chances, with Terran Campbell having a dipping long range effort tipped over the bar midway through the half, and several goalmouth scrambles, that second goal didn't come and the 'Caps were soon made to rue those missed opportunities. While Vancouver dominated the first half, Georgia United came out all guns blazing to start the second and thought they'd got back on levels terms four minutes in when USSDA leading scorer, the 32 goal Patrick Okonkwo, powerfully headed home a free kick but was called offside. But the 'Caps didn't learn from their slack defensive play and were soon punished seconds later when the outstanding Andrew Carleton, who just turned 15 in June, curled home a low cross to tie things up. Vancouver nearly restored their lead when Campbell went on a strong run and flashed a shot just past the left post in the 54th minute and it was those fine lines that Carl Robinson always talks about as Georgia went up the pitch and scored. It was Carleton again, this time brilliantly curling a free kick around the wall and perfectly placing it into the bottom right corner of the net. Quite the turnaround but it only served to spur the Vancouver players on in front of the large crowd and Michael Baldisimo tied things up again with then minutes remaining, coolly slotting home a Kadin Chung cross that came through to him at the back post. 2-2 and very much game on. That goal set up a grandstand finish, with both goalkeepers needing to be in top form. Georgia pushed hard to finish it in normal time and Frazer Poulter was lucky to see his attempted clearance head goalbound but tipped around the post from under the crossbar by Luciano Trasolini. The 'Caps keeper was called into action again moments later when another Carleton free kick looked to be heading in before Trasolini tipped it on to the cross bar and Poulter cleared the headed rebound off the goalline. Vancouver were on the rack and Trasolini stood tall again to tip another dipping Carleton effort on to the bar, this time a long range deflected one from just inside the 'Caps half. But the 'Caps had the final chance of normal time when Campbell saw his effort cleared off the line and we were heading to two ten minute periods of extra time where first Nicolas Apostal and then Noah Verhoeven had chances to win it for Vancouver in the closing moments, but found Georgia keeper Samuel Morton in fantastic form. And I still feel the Caps should have got a penalty in the first half of extra time! So it came to penalties. Midfielder Munir Saleh (pictured below), who had been excellent throughout, stepped up first but saw Morton save his kick. The next nine were all buried, perfectly placed as well, and Georgia advanced 5-4 on pens to face New York Red Bulls in the semi-final in Carson California this coming Thursday. A truly heartbreaking end and Wednesday's loss will still sting for the losing 'Caps and hurt like hell these many hours later. But they should be proud of the performance they put in, the season they had and what lies ahead for them. Carl Robinson was there to offer some words of encouragement to the team at the final whistle, but just what do you say a group of young guys to pick them up after a game like that where they left everything out on the pitch? "I said to them football's happens like that," Robinson told AFTN. "Sometimes decisions are made by the gentleman up above that you don't agree with and it's important you learn from these occasions and these times and these moments. "But more importantly they had all their loved ones in the crowd supporting them. I said to them when I'm finished talking go over there and give them a hug because they're the ones that will be there for you through thick and thin, whether things go well or not. "And I said, they should be proud of themselves because they did everything to win the game. Unfortunately the penalty shoot-out, as we found out last year in the Amway Cup when Toronto beat us at home, they didn't deserve to beat us, they did, it happens. But it's how you grow as a player from that." And although it may not feel like it right now, this game will be a great moment of growth for all of the players and teach them some valuable lessons in their development. Might all sound a bit clichéd but it is true. The loss should hit home hard the need to take their chances for one. The 'Caps could have been out of sight by half time. It'll also let some players know where they are compared to their peers and what they need to work on over the summer. It was a great team effort, but there were some fantastic individual performances in there, all of which should be used as a springboard to further develop their games. Robinson agrees. "Some fantastic performances from some of the individuals," Robinson told us. "I went round and I spoke to some of the individuals because I felt they deserved the respect of me speaking to them as a group but also individually. "Kadin Chung and Tommy Gardner were absolutely fantastic. Munir, who missed the penalty, tough moment for him, but he'll come strong. He was the best midfielder on the park for me, without a doubt. We've got some great young talent, great young Canadian talent, coming through." Little comfort to Vancouver but they lost to a very good Georgia side with some really strong talent. Morton was a different maker in goal and was solid throughout, keeping his team in the game in the first half. It was clear to see why Okonkwo had hit so many goals this season. He looked a player mature above his years and it's no wonder he's picked up a full ride scholarship from my eavesdropping in on relation's conversations! Then what can you say about Carleton? The Man of the Match, two great goals, couple of other close calls and coolly tucked away the winning penalty. He's already been capped by the US at youth level and certainly seems to be one to watch. I wonder if Robbo managed to stick some discovery rights on him! Georgia were delighted by their win, as they should be. Celebrating three times on the pitch in front of the shattered 'Caps was perhaps a bit excessive (once at the final whistle and two rounds of Olés), but it's what I would have hoped the Caps would have done if they had won down there. And if they wouldn't have (too un-Canadian?) then they need to add that side to their game if they want to make it. We need players that have that niggle to rub victory and success into the faces of those who they have beaten. Nice guys don't win in this game, you need that ruthless streak. That they also need to learn. If I was U16 head coach and U18 head coach Rich Fagan, I would use those celebrations to spur the guys on come the new season starting in September. Take this picture below: Print it off, pin it up in the dressing room and remind the guys how they felt with the defeat last season. Remind them how bad it was to see Georgia celebrate winning on their turf and tell them to make sure they don't have that feeling again come next year's playoffs. You grow and develop by using such failures and low points to take you to that next level. It can sometimes be the best motivation going. So what about the future? Well the Residency program certainly appears to be in great shape. This U16s group is likely the one that will produce the next crop of homegrown talent to join the MLS and USL squads. Half the group will move up to the U18 level next season. They've all got another two or three years of development at youth level ahead of them but if they continue to develop and fulfill their potential, you can see a number of the players making the next jump when they graduate from the Residency program. The Whitecaps have the highest number of homegrown signings on their roster in all of MLS (eight and counting). The latest additions of Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese are blazing a trail for this current group of young talent. Then you have all the homegrown guys on the USL roster as well. It was great to see so many former homegrown players, and other MLS first teamers, in attendance on Wednesday night in a crowd of several hundred. It lets the young players know that this is a Club. A Club with a pathway from the first team all the way down to the pre-Residency teams. The path is set now for the players in the Residency. They have something to clearly aspire to and that is one of the most pleasing aspects of the Whitecaps for Robinson right now. "We've created a clear pathway now, which is the hardest thing to do because sometimes clubs are disjointed and they don't have that pathway to create for young players to easily transition through from the Residency to USL to the first team," Robinson told us. "My job, 18 months ago, was to try and create a pathway and I think I've done that by playing the guys in the first team. "Creating a pathway with the USL, the club have been fantastic giving us support with the USL team, which is an important part of their development and we've got great young talent coming through the Under 16s and 18s now. There certainly is and it's not just here in Vancouver. The Whitecaps have set up a string of academies recently on Vancouver Island and throughout other parts of British Columbia, expanding into their development territories in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and soon to be western Ontario if reports are to be believed. It's a great investment from the club and one which will just add to the Residency talent in years to come, but Robinson doesn't want to rest on his laurels and stop there. "I want to go a step further and I want to try and identify these guys as 11, 12 and 13-year-olds," Robinson added. "We don't want to miss any talent because if we do, we're not doing our jobs correctly. So it's a lot of work, a lot of miles, a lot of conversations but it's definitely worthwhile because if you look at the bigger picture, we want to find the best Canadians. "It'll happen over a period of time. It's not going to happen overnight and it's a process. We've got the first steps in the correct order with our process. Now we've got to go and find more players and find the best players because we don't just want standard players, we want the top players, because there are top players out in Canada, without a doubt."
  24. Casting our eye over all the fixtures remaining for all the teams, we're going with Dallas to win the West on 57 points, with Sporting KC coming second on 55, LA third on 54 and then that's where it gets really interesting. By our reckoning, Vancouver and Seattle will be battling it out for 4th on 53 points and will face each other in the first round of the playoffs. Where that will be played is very well going to come down to goal difference and I think Seattle will shade that. We also think RSL will come good at just the right time and edge out Portland for 6th on goal difference. Accurate or total bollocks? You can let us know below, but we'll soon find out, and part of it will be played out tonight in Dallas. Banged up, beat up, out of form and looking for someone to step up and be the goalscoring hero, it's all about points and positioning now for the Whitecaps, a fact not missing from everyone at the club. "We're in at the moment, and that's the pleasing thing about it," 'Caps coach Carl Robinson told reporters at Vancouver airport on Monday. "With two games to go, we're in. Now we just need to regroup, refocus, get our minds right and see where we go from here. "The focus is to finish as high as we can. That's never changed from the first game of the season. There's different factors that affect that. Us and Dallas are two teams up the top that are competing. They want it as well as we do. They're healthy, we're not healthy. It is what it is. "We'll regroup. We know what we need to do. We'll go there and we'll try and be tough to beat, with the right mentality, because it is playoff mentality now. We've got two league games left but really the playoffs start now." Momentum, being in-form, confidence. Call it what you like, but the 'Caps are desperately needing to find some of it heading in to the playoffs. Last year, Vancouver headed into the postseason on the back of four wins and 13 points from their last five matches. We all know how horribly that ended up once the playoffs began, but it certainly makes for a better mindset than the current form of no wins in their last four and only two points and blown opportunities to show for their efforts. "Having made the playoffs already, our goal now is to get a couple of wins," is left back Jordan Harvey's take. "We don't want to just coast into the playoffs. We want to build some momentum. Going in [to Dallas], without a doubt, we're going for three points. Are we disappointed if we get a draw? Probably not, but the goal is to get three points and build momentum." Ravaged by injuries and players away on international duty, along with no wins in Dallas, or any other part of Texas for that matter, Vancouver coming away with anything tonight would be an amazing achievement. It would also likely secure them a best ever top four finish and the much sought after home playoff game. Not that simply going into Frisco and playing for a point is likely to be the 'Caps gameplan. That's not through Robinson's tactics but the mindset of his players. "I don't think we've got the type of players that can play there and try and get a point," Robinson admitted. "We've got players that will want to try and win games." As much as I'd bite your hand off for a point right now, it is better to go in looking for the win, as that makes it easier to try and fight back if you fall behind. Too often under Martin Rennie's teams did the 'Caps go in defensively, fall behind, then have no clue how to change things around. The other huge obstacle for the 'Caps right now is absences. Not so much the fringe players away internationally, but the series of injuries that has decimated the creativity of the team. Pedro Morales and Nicolas Mezquida haven't made the trip to Texas. Mauro Rosales and Cristian Techera have, but both are still nursing injuries and haven't trained since limping off during last week's 0-0 home draw with Dallas. The Whitecaps now face the dilemma of do you rush these players back to try and secure points and positioning or do you rest them and save them for the playoffs, possibly giving up a home playoff game as a result? "We have a couple of guys banged up and nicked up," rookie Tim Parker told AFTN. "We do want to get as many points as we can. I think we have the depth on the road to get points regardless, but I also think that it's important that we save some of the guys that we so that they don't injure themselves further." But even if things don't play out in Vancouver's favour and they have to start the playoffs away from BC Place, Parker has no fear or concerns. "We've been really good on the road this year," he added. "Of course we want to get a home playoff game for the fans but I don't think we're afraid if we get a road playoff game at all." Neither they should be, but with that last away win coming on August 1st, that previously amazing road form doesn't quite look as formidable as it did a few months ago. Let's just hope it doesn't even come to discussing that.
  25. "I feel good after the last two weeks with my injury," Morales told AFTN at training on Thursday. "I feel good in my legs. I've been training hard the last two days with [Jon] Poli and I'm feeling nothing in my hamstring now." Just what to do with Morales heading into a crucial game with San Jose is certainly a dilemma for Robinson. The 'Caps coach had to use both Morales and Octavio Rivero off the bench in last Saturday's 2-1 defeat to New York City after both failed late fitness tests. He was told he could use both for 15 to 20 minutes. He got 23 minutes out of Morales and the Chilean looked excellent when he came on, hitting home the equalising penalty and looking back to his old ball spraying self at times. It's the difference maker the Whitecaps need at this crunch time of the season and one they've been missing from their Designated Players in their three losses over the last few weeks. "Since June, we haven't had our three DPs [on the field at the same time]," Robinson told reporters this week. "It makes a big difference. The three DPs of NYC won them the game really. We haven't had that, but it shows the depth of our squad that we're still in with a shout towards the end of the season with a number of injuries." That depth may be great but it's been tested and stretched in the losses to Houston, Seattle and New York. They Whitecaps need Morales back but they don't want to rush him and cause further aggravation to his injury. They got away with it last week but it was close. Morales stretched for a ball late on and the bandage covering his hamstring came flying off. It looked like he may have overstretched and tweaked it again, and he hardly ran after that. Robinson confirmed to us that that was the case, but it was a minor tweak that was fine after a couple of days rest and some light training. It was alarming never-the-less. The one thing the Whitecaps don't want to do is to push him back early again and risk losing him for the playoffs. "We've just got to get him fit and healthy in the run-in," Robinson told us last week ahead of the NYC game. "We just won't take any risks. I won't take any risks on any of my players, which is why we've made a number of changes [recently]. I'll continue to do that because I won't put any players health at risk." The original plan was to ease him back gently. "That's what we'll probably do," Robinson added. "I done that after his original injury and then it reoccurred. We've just got be very careful. We've got enough good players in those areas that we don't need to rush anyone." That view hasn't changed but needs may cause some reconsideration. Mauro Rosales has come into the number ten role and hasn't been able to stamp his authority on games the way we know he can. Nicolas Mezquida now has an injury that will see him miss another game this weekend. And that takes us back to Robinson's dilemma for the Quakes game. Morales will play, but whether he will start and play the first hour, or come on as a sub for the last half hour, will be down to a gameday decision and the health of Rivero may also dictate what option Robinson goes with. "I'd rather have 90 minutes from Pedro," Robinson admitted. "That would be nice. We'll try and get to it as close as we can." Morales is eager to play his part, but is also unsure what would be the best way to use him right now. Whatever Robinson decides, he's ready to go. "The decision is Robbo's now," Morales told us. "I don't know if he'll play me for the start of the game [against San Jose] or in the second half. I don't know what is the best. "The thing is to help the team, either from the first minute or in the second half. But I feel good and I've been working hard these two weeks since getting back to training and I'm ready now for these last games." The Whitecaps know they are in for a battle during the last month of the regular MLS season and Morales will be a crucial part of it. A win over San Jose on Saturday and they clinch their second straight postseason berth with three games to spare. Then it all comes down to positioning, with a home and away series with Dallas set to determine whether they get a first round bye or not. A defeat in San Jose and the Quakes are suddenly just two points behind them and even the 'Caps place in the playoffs is thrown into doubt, never mind all the talk of the Supporters' Shield and a home playoff game from just a couple of weeks ago. Pressure, but the Whitecaps are ready for it, and they've had some previous experience last season when they had to pretty much win every game of the final month to make the playoffs. Different scenarios, but Morales feels that experience will serve the 'Caps well. "It's different from last year because the team have a very big chance to win the Cup this year," Morales told us. "We're now in the second position but the team is just concentrating on the last four games. "It's like a final on Saturday. Every one of these four games is like a final. The team is prepared for these last four games. We just need to play with confidence and start to win again." And the key to winning is for Vancouver to actually take their chances. Not something they've found easy to do of late. The amount of missed chances in the final stages of the loss to New York was staggering. The general feeling in the 'Caps camp this week was that it's just a matter of time before those chances turn to goals again and Morales is at least pleased with the creative aspect of the side but knows it needs to be better. "If you don't create the chances then it's a danger for the team," Morales said. "If you create the chances in the first half, in the second half, against a good team, you need to score. Sometimes you're not lucky. Sometimes you're not concentrating enough in the final pass." There were so many breaks with at least a man advantage last weekend, with a failure to punish their visitors every time. It eventually cost the 'Caps dear, as we all know, with NYC's controversial late penalty winner. Three vital points lost and the chance to grab some breathing space at the top of standings gone. Again. Morales knows it's not acceptable to squander so many of those opportunities and it's been the prime focus at training in the aftermath of the defeat. "This week we've worked on the situation," Morales added. "The counter attack. Four against two, four against three. We lost too many chances last week against New York. If we score, then maybe we win and we're in first position. Sometimes this stuff happens but we need to create and score more goals." Let's hope that begins again on Saturday night in San Jose.