Jump to content

USLsoccer.com: Whitecaps Past Due?

Recommended Posts

Whitecaps Past Due?

Season kicks off versus Aviators this Friday


Wednesday, April 28, 2004



Photo: Mark Okoth / Vancouver Whitecaps

It will be a game of two extremes Friday night when the Edmonton Aviators, new kids on the A-League block, visit the veteran Vancouver Whitecaps. For Vancouver, who will be kicking of their 12th season at Swangard Stadium, it will be the start of a campaign that will hopefully finish with the club raising the championship cup in September.

With 10 appearances in the postseason and a current streak of seven straight, the Whitecaps have yet to reach the final. Perhaps even more heartbreaking is the fact that the Whitecaps are unbeaten over the last two years with a mark of 4-0-4, succumbing to elimination via series overtime in the semifinals of 2002 and series penalty kicks last year.

Head Coach Tony Fonseca notes, "We feel like we've done everything possible, but it just wasn't enough to go through. It definitely made us stronger and wiser." Fonseca, a former Portuguese National Team player, was an assistant coach/player for the Whitecaps in 2000-2001 before being named head coach prior to the 2002 season. He has amassed a 26-18-12 record over two seasons.

"I don't think the results of our past two playoff runs will have an effect on the team as we prepare for the season," says Vancouver's Director of Soccer Operations Bob Lenarduzzi, who has been with the organization since 1988. "Obviously we'd like to go further in the playoffs and the reason we've upgraded our team is so that we can move past this hurdle."

To gear up for 2004, Vancouver signed the Seattle Sounders' leading scorer from last season, Andrew Gregor, and midfielder Martin Nash from the Montreal Impact. Gregor recorded seven goals and seven assists during the campaign for the team that took the Pacific Division title by one point over the Whitecaps. The return of Nash should also bolster Vancouver's attack. Nash spent 2003 with the Impact and won two A-League championships with the Rochester Raging Rhinos.

Forward Jason Jordan will again be up top, where he has been the Whitecaps' leading scorer for four of the past six years (1998, 2001, 2002, 2003). The return of Carlo Corazzin and Jeremy Piette "plus the addition of Nash, Davide Xausa and Gregor provide us with leadership and veteran experience," says Lenarduzzi. "Nash has won two A-League titles already in his career, Xausa is a former Scottish Premier League player and Gregor is a veteran midfielder. We are in a position now where there will be constant competition for starting roles and roster spots."

Fonseca commented further, "All the players need to be motivated and ready for the challenge. It's going to be demanding."

The Whitecaps recently announced a plan to build a training center on the campus of Simon Fraser University. "Initially we'll build two turf fields with lights, stands and fencing and use SFU's existing two grass fields as part of the facility," says Lenarduzzi. "We're involved in discussions now to add two more fields and a clubhouse to the training center. Having a permanent training facility will strengthen our club at every level."

Vancouver will compete in the Western Conference this season with the likes of Milwaukee, Minnesota, Portland, Seattle, and the new faces of Calgary and Edmonton. The Whitecaps kick off their season against the more unfamiliar of the newcomers, the Aviators. "It's very difficult when you don't know anything about the team you are going to play against (style, formation, players)," says Fonseca. "It should be very interesting."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...