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  1. 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.
  2. McKendry underwent surgery for a meniscal tear of his left knee in August. The recovery took a little longer than hoped and the 23-year-old was still rehabbing when the 'Caps preseason camp got underway in January and didn't make his first USL appearance of the season until week two, when he came on as a late second half sub in Portland. But after a lot of hard work and patience, McKendry is back to his best and keen to make an impact in Wednesday's match with the Fury. "The first thing that comes to mind is that it's an opportunity for me to showcase myself," McKendry told AFTN. "I've developed a lot, even over the time when I was injured, I was watching, studying the first team games and trying to get better, even though I was not playing. Now, I'm looking forward to being involved and getting some opportunities." McKendry has looked excellent for WFC2 so far this season, scoring two goals in his six appearances to date, both of them cracking strikes. A lot of players take a little bit of time to readjust to the game when they come back from a long term injury, but McKendry has looked to be even sharper and hungrier than he was before. He looks to have moved up another level and more than ready for MLS minutes. "I think I've just matured a little bit," McKendry told us. "That's been the biggest thing. Last season I think I was a little bit, maybe, overly anxious at times. Now, it's clear to me what I bring to this club and where I can be successful from the midfield position." Robinson has long been an admirer of the Residency alumni. That was what triggered his desire to get McKendry to come out of college a year early and sign a MLS deal. He's previously told us that he fully believes that the midfielder has what it takes to become a MLS staple for the club in years to come, something which his USL coach, Alan Koch, also has no doubts about. "We haven't seen Ben as much as we would have liked," Koch told AFTN after Sunday's draw with Real Monarchs. "He's still been struggling to get through a couple of knocks, then going away with the national team. I thought today he was very, very industrious. He was wanting to get on the ball, he brought a lot of energy to the field. He was one of our best players through the 60 minutes that he played, which is great. "We continue to see him improve and the more performances that he puts in like today, the more questions he'll ask of Robbo and hopefully get a chance in the first team at some stage." McKendry's recent performances have also seen him back in the Canadian fold for the first time in over two years. Having previously worn the red and white of Canada at U18 and U20 level, McKendry hasn't been involved with the national team program since being part of the U20 team that took part in the CONCACAF U20 Championship in Mexico in February 2013. He scored a goal in the 5-1 win over Nicaragua in his only appearance in that tournament. U23 coach Michael Findlay included McKendry in Canada's recent Caribbean tour, with the midfielder scoring in the 3-0 win over Grenada, with a similar goal to his strike against Real Monarchs on Sunday. And overall he found it an enjoyable experience to be back with the national team program. "It was great," McKendry said of the experience. "It was good to be in with the national team. The coaching staff were great and the other players were great as well. I guess we have to get used to travelling all over the place. We were in Guyana, which was an interesting experience, then we had to go to Grenada. Getting used to the travel, with being in CONCACAF, is important." Experience is all part of McKendry's growth and going through a long term injury like he did last year has certainly given him a new perspective on things. It's also an experience he can draw on to help others, including his room-mate Christian Dean, who agonisingly suffered a knee injury last week in training, just days after returning from a foot injury that had seen the centre back miss out on the year so far. It's heartbreaking for Dean, who is one of the most genuine and nicest players you'll find on the 'Caps rosters, but McKendry has been there for him at this difficult time and he feels his room-mate will come back hungrier and stronger like he did. "Yeah, I talked about it a little bit with him," McKendry told us. "A similar injury I think. He got a little bit on the knee. You've just got to stay focused and do what you can to get back as soon as possible. Ice, rest. He'll be back stronger." McKendry's eyes right now are fully focussed on the next two Canadian Championship games with Ottawa and making a case for his first MLS minutes soon. That MLS playing time is his key goal, and will remain so, but right now, he's also thoroughly enjoying being part of the exciting and unbeaten USL side. That's been helping take his game to that other level, with confidence abounding around the team. "I think the difference is we go into every single game expecting three points," McKendry admitted. "Whether on the road or at home here, we expect three points and nothing less. We're disappointed with a draw. They're confident. "The young guys are incredible - Kadin [Chung]. Tommy [Gardner], Alphonso [Davies]. Kyle [Greig] has been a great acquisition. He's banging in goals. It's a great group to be a part of."
  3. There's a lot of chat to be had, so have a listen! You can download and/or listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on the following services: iTunes. iPhone App Google Play Podbean. Stitcher Radio Network. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  4. REPORT (by Steve Pandher): A strong start wasn't enough for the Whitecaps to get the full three points and in the end a short-handed Vancouver side had to hold on to a 1-1 draw against Sporting Kansas City at BC Place on Wednesday night. It was a tale of two debut MLS goals, with Christian Bolaños scoring his first as a Cap, while Diego Rubio replied for the visitors. The home side looked to open the scoring early when Masato Kudo almost converted a Cristian Techera cross, with the ball being slightly deflected by Matt Besler away from the striker. Ten minutes later the Whitecaps would strike first off a set piece as Techera's corner found an open Bolaños who side-volleyed his shot past the keeper. That lead didn't last long as Sporting drew even before the half hour mark when Rubio collected a shot/pass from Lawrence Olum and beat David Ousted from in close. Kansas City almost took the lead only a few minutes later after a poor giveaway by Matias Laba led to an attempt by Olum that was stopped by Ousted and then cleared off the line by Tim Parker before Rubio could get to it. Kudo got another chance moments later but once again Besler was able to get a foot in and deny the pass from Techera. The second half couldn't have started any worse for the Whitecaps, with Kendall Waston getting sent off for a second yellow card in the 51st minute, after a poor back pass from Parker forced the Costa Rican to go in for an awkward challenge that was penalized by the referee. The remainder of the match saw Sporting Kansas City control the majority of play and look dangerous, but they were unable to create any clear chances and both clubs ended up splitting the points. Vancouver will only have a few days to regroup with a long trip to the east coast coming up and a match against New York City FC on Saturday. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 1 Sporting Kansas City ATT: 18,836 VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Fraser Aird, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matías Laba, Russell Teibert; Christian Bolaños (Kekuta Manneh 78), Pedro Morales (Pa-Modou Kah 54), Cristian Techera; Masato Kudo (Octavio Rivero 65) [substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Nicolás Mezquida, Andrew Jacobson, Blas Pérez] KANSAS CITY: Alec Kann; Saad Abdul Salaam, Nuno Andre Coelho, Matt Besler, Amadou Dia; Benny Feilhaber, Lawrence Olum, Roger Espinoza; Jimmy Medranda (Graham Zusi 75), Diego Rubio (Dom Dwyer 57), Connor Hallisey (Brad Davis 64) [substitutes not used: Tim Melia, Ike Opara, Seth Sinovic, Jacob Peterson] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On points won or lost: “I’m not sure. I just said that to the guys in there, I’m not sure whether to be happy, to be sad, to be frustrated, annoyed. You know I thought we played very very well in the first half. I thought we played some of our [most] exciting stuff as we have done. We got our noses in front. Credit to them. They got back in the game, but that shouldn’t happen from us. We switched off the second phase. When you do that against good teams you get caught. It was pleasing but disappointing in the first half. Second half is just a catalogue of errors from us. We.ve got to make sure that we don’t to that too many times, because three times in nine games we’ve played with 10 men. We haven’t conceded a goal, which is good. So the character shown towards the end of the game is phenomenal from that group in there, especially when their backs are against the wall. So, pleased from me in that respect, but we’ll brush ourselves down again and we’ll go on a nice long trip tomorrow.” On the two yellow cards on Kendall: “I’ve got no complaints about the second yellow card. I think it’s a poor decision, not just by Kendall, but from a number of players that were made. I just got told the first card is not a yellow card. So that’s a frustrating thing for me. But there was a number of frustrating things, because there was tackles that were missed, and there was a hand ball on the floor when my guy’s breaking through, which was missed. And I tried to ask the referee at the end of the game, but he didn’t want to shake my hand. So, that might tell you something.” On team discipline and inability to field a steady line-up: “That’s a frustrating thing. You want to try to get into a rhythm and a groove, and we’re nine games in and we haven’t able to field a settled team. Is it the discipline? I think you look across the league generally, which I do because you’ve got to review games and look at games, but all you can do is focus on yourself. Do my team need to be better, do we need to be better? Yeah, ok, I’ll accept that. But if the sending off today has been caused by a yellow card, which was deservedly so, and a non-yellow card, then I think I can’t really criticise their discipline. If it’s a blatant red card, then by all means. You know we had one of them in Kansas City away, I think it was a red card. I’ll accept that and I’ll take the blame for that.” CHRISTIAN BOLANOS On his goal: “Even me, I was surprised. It was difficult but I just tried to shoot in the goal. I was lucky to put the ball just in the corner and very happy for make my first goal.” RUSSELL TEIBERT On getting into the starting line-up at home: “I told another reporter when the national anthem was playing before the game, what was going through my mind was my first game at Empire Stadium and you know you get goosebumps on your body thinking about it. But I remember just the sound of the fans on the opening day and you know it kind of felt like opening day all over again for me just because I’d been out for a little while. It’ll always be a pleasure to play in front of the home fans whether it was at Empire or at BC Place today. It’ll always feel special.” On whether it was points lost or won: “We got down to 10 men, but again we’ve shown in the past, I think we’ve been down to 10 men three times this year and we can still play when we’re down a man. I think the game was there for us in the first half, maybe we should’ve capitalized on a couple of chances. You know we did have a couple times where we lacked focus but that’s the way the game goes. I think after we go down to 10 men we showed a lot of character to not get scored on and to finish the game and get a point out of it. But with that we still looked dangerous and we still had a couple chances and we could’ve capitalized on it and took three points in there.” SPORTING KANSAS CITY PETER VERMES On tonight’s match: “We were a little bit beat up from our game on Sunday, we were depleted. It was a hot day, we weren’t used to it. It’s not very hot in Kansas City at the moment so we haven’t really had a chance to acclimate to it. I actually thought we brought pretty good energy playing away from home. Getting a point, yeah it’s ok, but whenever you go up a man you always want more. I thought we actually got a couple opportunities here and there but they did a good job, they were really compact in the middle and also compact in their two lines. They made it really difficult for us to go up through the middle. Everything was wide and that made it difficult. Any time you go on the road in this league and get a point, it’s a pretty good thing.” On not creating more chances after Zusi and Davis subbed on: “Sometimes the rhythm, it’s hard for them, they come in late and they’re not in the rhythm of the game. It would be nice for them to have a little more but like I said, many times as a player and as a coach, you’re in a situation where you’re playing up a man and you are playing against a team that is extremely galvanized in their way that they’re now going to defend the game, and so there’s not a lot of space. It’s difficult to break a team down. Probably the one thing that we weren’t good at it, was when they surged forward, we needed to get at them a little bit quicker so that they couldn’t get behind the ball. Outside of that, everything else is what it is.” Thoughts on Rubio’s performance: “He’s played a couple of games now, he was pressing way too hard to score, it’s what he wanted to do so bad, and I thought it took him out of his game and I had a long talk with him and I just said ‘listen, you’ve got a lot of other things that you bring to our team, and when you get your chance it will come, you don’t have to force it.’ I thought today, he did a lot of other things for us in the game outside of scoring, but I also think it was good for his confidence to put one in the back of the net. And for any goalscorer that’s an important aspect.” On goalkeeper Alec Cann: “It was an important move for us to give him a shot to play because we had two more competitions we’re going to have to play in with the U.S. Open Cup and also Champions League in the summer time. So we’ve really got to rely on both keepers and we really haven’t had a chance to play him play him yet in a game with us, so I thought he did a good job. There’s nothing he could have done about the first goal, it was a great finish. Bad marking on our part but tremendous finish. It wasn’t his fault. Outside of that I thought he managed the game real well.” ALEC KANN On tonight’s match: “It’s good to battle back and get a point away from home. I’m proud of the guys and the way they fought the whole game.” On having a man advantage for 40 minutes: “You can’t be too disappointed with a point away from home no matter what the circumstances. We would have obviously loved to get three to take back to Kansas City, but a point is very important, especially at this point in the season.” On upcoming game against LA Galaxy: “Just keep training hard. We have a quick turnaround, so just rest the legs and be ready for Sunday.” DIEGO RUBIO: On tonight’s match: “Everybody told me that it is always difficult to play here in Vancouver. Of course they were playing with 10 players for I think 30 minutes, so of course we are supposed to win. I think we made the effort, but that happens in football. They tried to defend the last 30 minutes and they did a good job.” On coming away with a draw: “Of course we are disappointed, we always want to win. This team always works to win so of course we are disappointed in a draw.”
  5. There's a lot of chat to be had, so have a listen! You can download and/or listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on the following services: iTunes. iPhone App Google Play Podbean. Stitcher Radio Network. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  6. REPORT (by Steve Pandher): The Whitecaps ended their three game winless and 372 minute goalless streaks with a 3-0 victory over league leading FC Dallas. After a Maynor Figueroa own goal gave Vancouver the lead in the first half, the 'Caps got goals from Jordan Harvey and Kekuta Manneh, the latter being their first that a Whitecaps players has scored from open play this season. However it was a different story to start the match, with the visitors controlling the majority of play and chances, either missing them by the slightest of margins or being robbed by the outstanding play of David Ousted who earned the cleansheet with another 'man of the match' performance. Five minutes after Ousted's first big save of the night, a stunning acrobatic tip over of a looping Maxi Urruti effort, the Whitecaps got on the board when Manneh sent in the ball from the left side of the box which Chris Seitz punched out. (Un)fortunately it was sent right into the path of a retreating Figueroa who had the ball come off his chest into the net giving the 'Caps the lead into the half. Minutes after the restart, Dallas came close to drawing even but Ousted came up huge with a reflex save from a shot by Michael Barrios from just inside the six yard area. After another big stop by Ousted after the hour mark, the home side doubled their lead in the 63rd minute when Jordan Harvey collected the ball from a corner and fired it past defenders and the keeper to get his second of the season. Vancouver would put the match to bed 15 minutes later when Manneh would be sent in alone by second half sub Blas Perez's first touch of the match. The winger beat the charging Seitz to the ball and slipped it past him for his first of the season. The Whitecaps will have little time to savour the victory as they return to B.C Place on Wednesday to face Sporting Kansas City, but it will do wonders for their confidence and self belief moving forward in a stretch of four home matches in a five game spell. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 - 0 FC Dallas ATT: 22,120 (sell out) VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Fraser Aird, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Andrew Jacobson, Cristian Techera (Christian Bolanos 80), Nicolas Mezquida (Russell Teibert 88), Kekuta Manneh; Octavio Rivero (Blas Perez 77) [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Pa-Modou Kah, Masato Kudo] DALLAS: Chris Seitz; Atiba Harris, Zach Loyd, Walker Zimmerman, Maynor Figueroa; Michael Barrios (Kellyn Acosta 74), Victor Ulloa (Mauro Díaz 71), Carlos Gruezo, Fabian Castillo; Maximiliano Urruti, Tesho Akindele [subs Not Used: Jesse Gonzalez, Ryan Hollingshead, Juan Esteban Ortiz, Carlos Lizarazo, Mauro Rosales] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On tonight’s match: “We scored one goal from open play today, so I’m delighted. We win a game of football. I say this and don’t make a big thing of it. It’s about winning games and I know that, I understand that. We won the game today with a little bit of luck, which we haven’t had in one or two weeks. A good set piece goal and then a fantastic Blas Perez touch and Kekuta Manneh on the run. It’s nice, we’ll take it, but we’ll move on. It’s three points, we’ll move on, we’ve got a big game on Wednesday.” On the team’s improvement: “It doesn’t help and make it easier, when you’re not scoring as many goals as you’d like, but you go through ruts, as a group of players, as a club. Sometimes it goes against you and doesn’t go your way, but you focus on performance. We did that last week. We were well below our standard at DC United and I was the first to admit that and take responsibility for that. Last week, we were a lot better. I think we should have gotten something out of the game and we didn’t. Again, no excuses. Today, we rode our luck a little bit, but they’re a good team. They’ve got good players, but today we showed that we are.” On David Ousted’s crucial performance: “You know, I think his job is to keep the ball out of the net. So, he did what he’s paid for. He did his job very well today. As did Kendall [Waston] and Tim [Parker], and the two fullbacks. We’re playing against three or four top players in the league today. But, the one save is phenomenal. I’ll let him talk about it because I’m sure he’ll be up here or whatever. So, excellent save, but he did his job, which is good.” On the difference for Kekuta Manneh and Cristian Techera tonight: “A little bit of confidence, I think we’re getting up to the levels that we know we can play. They both probably should have scored at certain times. Kekuta gets his goal. Cristian, if the dink goes in, the little lob, then everyone is raving about it. You know, we haven’t scored as many goals as we’d like and I keep getting reminded of that. We’ve got to just keep going, the wide players, the forward players, they’ve just got to keep going and the goals will come.” On whether he was happy that it was Kekuta Manneh who got the goal at the end: “To be fair, I don’t really care who scores from open play. Individually, I think they all want to score, which is good. I think the two or three times that we made the wrong decisions at the wrong time, it was because they want the goal. For him, I think his confidence will grow from that in an important week for us. The other guys should be proud of their work rate as well. Cristian Techera, obviously Octavio Rivero and Nicolas Mezquida as well. I thought he put in a very, very strong performance.” Thoughts on Matias Laba’s performance: “Matias is a top player, we know that. I think sometimes, when he doesn’t play to the level that we used to see in him, everyone sort of jumps on the bandwagon with him. Players don’t go out there to play poorly, they go out there to give their effort and try their very best. And sometimes it’s your day, other times it isn’t. I’m happy with the group of players I have in there on a daily basis.” On whether we saw glimpses of last season in tonight’s performance: “Yeah, maybe. I’ll have to see it again. I’m pleased from today because Dallas are a good team. They come into our place, they’ve scored a lot of goals. I kept getting reminded of that this week that they are the highest scoring team and deservedly so. I’m pleased that we kept a clean sheet and that’s why I said I’ll take one goal and a clean sheet. Houston came into town a couple of weeks ago, when we were missing a couple players and we kept them quiet as well. So we can do it, we just got to do it more consistently than we have in the first seven or eight games.” On whether we should expect to see Pedro Morales soon: “I think there’s a good chance, yeah. Pedro wanted to play today. I thought the guys who played in Salt Lake played very, very well, without any luck. So there is a chance, yeah. Obviously, there will be some new faces on the team on Wednesday. We have a busy week ahead of us. It’ll give us confidence, the three points, but we’ll just chalk it down and move on to the next one. Hopefully, you, we, me will get to see him on Wednesday.” KEKUTA MANNEH On the importance of tonight’s win: “We had a few bad results in the running and we got together and met, and we decided that we need to change things around if we want to have a good season. That happens to teams, they go through bad runs but then they turn things around. We felt like this was our chance, FC Dallas is a good team but they’re going to let us play and if we get chances, we’ll take them. I thought we did that today and this is very exciting, we needed that win.” On the attack breaking through tonight: “For us, we just kept believing. We were creating chances, and if we were not creating chances, we’d be worried but we created a lot, it felt like. The week before that, we knew that it was just going to be a matter of time before we start putting them away. It finally happened today, I’m really excited, and hopefully we can continue that with the game on Wednesday.” DAVID OUSTED On his performance tonight: “I thought I played well today. There were times today that I had to step up and make that save. I’m happy with my performance today.” On how the team responded: “I’ve said in the past few weeks that we were just going through a rough patch and that’s when the leaders of this team step up. It’s when the veterans of this team take responsibility and I think they have. You see a lot of guys step on the pitch tonight wanting to take responsibility and take the ball. The young guys wanted the ball as well, and that’s what it takes. MLS is such a long season that you’ll go through some rough patches, and that’s when the leadership steps up. We got a great locker room. We got everything we need in there to be a successful team but once in a while, it takes the leaders of this team to step up a little bit more.” On his health status after taking a fall in the second half: “I took a little bit of a knock but I didn’t think it was that bad. I’ll visit with the medical staff in the next couple of days but I know I should be fine.” FC DALLAS OSCAR PAREJA: On tonight’s match: “Disappointed. It was one of those nights where we have what we wanted, we created chances. I thought the team looked good, but we were not fine in the last third. We didn’t finalize it in the first half. One of our mistakes and they took it – I would say that in that play that was an accident when the ball hit and it went in. But that’s the game, we have to accept it – it has happened to us before when we don’t create as many options and we’re sharp and effective. Tonight, Vancouver was very effective and I have to recognize that. Especially in the last 15 minutes of the first half when they scored and in the last 15 minutes of the second half when there was the space and they just started taking advantage of that.” On not playing Mauro Rosales in his return to Vancouver: “I considered all those emotional parts of the game, but at the time of the game we have to see just what the unit is that is needed and Mauro is a very important player that we have used and we will use for sure. I think tonight I decided just to keep him there.” On putting Mauro Diaz in after missing four games: “I’m glad to see him finally in the game. Still, we get shortened days of training for him so unfortunately we couldn’t play him the whole time and I wanted to keep our plan with him and have him at 100 per cent. But Mauro came and he looked very good so I’m happy to have him back on the team in full form. We look forward to seeing him in the next month.” On missing Matt Hedges in a game like this: “I mean it would be easy to say that after the disappointment like that defensively. It is normal in the game, when you lose that way that you start to see the pieces that are missing. But we trust in the guys that we want and unfortunately today we were not sharp, especially in the last 20 minutes.” On what they need to work on for the next two road games: “This group has been recognized and I have and people have seen it, that this is a group that has a lot of character. We have a group of players that will bounce back, we have proven that. So when we’re looking forward for the next games, it’s just to get points. It’s not an easy journey in this league. You see how competitive it is in this league, and especially in the conference games. We obviously want to win all the games that we compete in. But today we are going with empty pockets and next week we prepare for New York to get points there.” WALKER ZIMMERMAN On tonight’s match: “I think our locker room is a little disappointed right now. I thought, especially in the first half, we had many chances that if we put away, the game is a little bit different. I don’t think we’re happy about the way the goals went in – a little soft and another set piece goal that we’ve conceded. Overall, pretty disappointed.” On their defensive performance: “They got a few chances, but at the same time I think we definitely put our mark on the game with our chances. I think if one of them went in, like I said, it makes it a little different. Not thrilled with the goals we gave up. I feel like we kind of beat ourselves, but that’s the game sometimes.” On not maximizing on chances: “Credit to Ousted, he had a good night, saved some point blank shots. We had some that just narrowly missed. So we’ll get back to the drawing board. I mean we’re not too concerned – we feel pretty good about the performance we put in.” VICTOR ULLOA On tonight’s match: “We’re leaving with a sour taste. We feel like especially in the first half we created a lot of chances and we just need to be able to tuck them away.” On not finding the back of the net: “I think their keeper made some great saves. We were just unlucky tonight not to be able to put a few away. One miss happened on defence and it cost us a goal – the own goal.” On their defence: “I think in the first half that goal was just unlucky. In the second half, we lost a bit of the organization in the back and in the midfield and it cost us two more mistakes and two more goals.”
  7. 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!
  8. 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!
  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. And catch up with our choices from previous years: 2011 awards / 2012 awards / 2013 awards / 2014 awards ********** AFTN WHITECAPS PLAYER OF THE SEASON : WINNER: DAVID OUSTED - The Dane was basically the reason that the ‘Caps finished where they did, with a string of crucial point winning and point saving stops throughout the year. With 15 clean sheets during the year (13 for the second successive regular season, one in the playoffs and one in the Canadian Championship) his importance is clear. He knows it. The ‘Caps know it. He’ll be back for next season but no deal has been done yet for a contract extension. Whatever he’s looking for, they need to pay it. Runner-up: Cristian Techera Our outfield Player of the Year for sure. After coming to Vancouver in April, Techera showed exceptional qualities during the second half of the season. Finished the year with 7 goals and 5 assists, second on the team in each category. He’s just finding his feet in MLS and we have high hopes of what next season will bring from The Bug. 2014 winner: Pedro Morales 2013 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo 2012 winner: Joe Cannon 2011 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo ********** AFTN WHITECAPS YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON : WINNER: TIM PARKER - When pretty much the whole first team, USL side and Residency qualify for this award, it’s a tough one! We could have given it to Techera. He’s only 23 after all. But since he’s an old man in the squad, we went with a player a year younger. Parker excelled in his rookie season. The best performing first year draftee the ‘Caps have taken. Dislodging a wily veteran and a player brought in from South America as a first choice centre back along the way, Parker finished the season as the ‘Caps starter alongside Kendall Waston and the position is his to lose moving forward. He didn’t look out of place or a rookie in his 17 MLS appearances, all but one of them a start. Also grabbed the ‘Caps first ever CONCACAF Champions League goal. Composed and confident, the best is yet to come from the New Yorker. 2014 winner: Matias Laba 2013 winner: Kekuta Manneh 2012 and 2011 winner: Caleb Clarke ********** WHITECAPS GOAL OF THE SEASON : WINNER: GERSHON KOFFIE v RSL (30/5/15 - 2-1 home win) There were a number of cracking goals this year, a lot of them from defenders, but this has pretty much been the unanimous winner overall. What a strike. We just need him to do these things a lot more often. If he’s still here next year that is, which we don't expect him to be! 2014 winner: Erik Hurtado v Seattle (24/5/14) 2013 winner: Camilo Sanvezzo v Portland (6/10/13) 2012 winner: Darren Mattocks v Toronto (11/7/12) 2011 winner: Eric Hassli v Seattle (11/6/11) ********** WHITECAPS GAME OF THE SEASON : WINNER: 2-0 HOME WIN v LA (04/04/15) There wasn’t really a clear cut winner like previous years. We could have gone, of course, for the win over Montreal that clinched the Voyageurs Cup, just for what it meant. But that wasn’t actually that great a match and it was an understrength Impact side that headed west. The 2-1 win in New York in June was exciting, with two Ousted penalty saves, but the ‘Caps basically struggled against a ten man Red Bulls. In the end, we went for the dominant 2-0 win against LA. It felt like a coming of age win for Carl Robinson’s young side against the defending MLS champs. It was also one that sent the ‘Caps to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings for the first time, setting up a season where winning it wasn’t a far-fetched thought, but a real possibility. 2014 winner: v Seattle (10/10/14 – 1-0 Cascadia Cup clinching away win) 2013 winner: v Seattle (9/10/13 - 4-1 away thrashing of Sounders) 2012 winner: v San Jose Earthquakes (5/5/12 - 2-1 win at BC Place) 2011 winner: v Kansas City (2/4/11 - 3-3 draw at Empire Field) ********** SAVE OF THE YEAR : WINNER: DAVID OUSTED v PHILADELPHIA (09/05/15 - 3-0 home win) - So many great saves from the Dane this season, including three penalties, but this one just shades it. Did he know too much about it? Of course he did, he'll tell you! 2014 winner: David Ousted v New England (22/3/14 – 0-0 away draw, MLS) 2013 winner: Marco Carducci double save v Victoria Highlanders (28/6/13 - Thunderbird Stadium, PDL) No award in 2011 or 2012. New award last year ********** WHITECAPS TO WATCH IN 2016: WINNER: MARCO BUSTOS - The first two-time winner in this category. This could very well have been his first team breakthrough year but an early season injury derailed Marco’s progress. When he did return, to USL action, he showed what he is capable of with 7 goals, 2 assists and a string of strong performances. Expect more MLS minutes for Bustos next season and that breakthrough year we’re all hoping for. No pressure! Runner-up: Ben McKendry - Another player hindered by injury this season. After signing his first pro contract in January with MLS homegrown deal, McKendry started the USL season a little slow before finding his feet and really hitting his stride. Was expected to get minutes in the Canadian Championship and Champions League games before a season ending injury and an operation has left him waiting another year for his MLS debut. Robinson is a big fan of the BC native, telling us that within two years he expects McKendry to be the box to box midfielder the team will be needing. 3rd: Victor Blasco - Carl Robinson likes what the Spaniard could bring to the MLS squad but just needs to see it on a more consistent basis. Blasco looked good in the early going but once he got his first professional goal, he took his game up to another level, finishing the season with 4 goals and 6 assists. We expect him to get a look in the preseason camp before the 'Caps monitor his progress during another season in the USL. 2014 winner: Marco Bustos 2013 winner: Sam Adekugbe 2012 winner: Ben Fisk 2011 winner: Caleb Clarke ********** HERO OF THE YEAR : WINNER: PA MODOU KAH - We hated him at Portland, we love him in Vancouver. That’s football! We were big fans of what Andy O’Brien brought to the Whitecaps, both in the centre of the defence and in the locker room, but Kah has taken that up a level. A big calming and mentoring influence on Kekuta Manneh’s the pinnacle of Kah’s team spirit came when he bought the entire squad rings to celebrate the club’s first ever Canadian Championship win. Riding around and picking up a medal on a hover board also adds to his awesomeness! 2014 winner: Carl Robinson 2013 winner: Carl Robinson 2012 winner: Young-Pyo Lee 2011 winner: Joe Cannon ********** VILLAIN OF THE YEAR : WINNER: RICARDO SALAZAR- Refereeing in MLS felt worse than it was last year and that's saying something. There were some terrible decisions throughout the league and a lot affecting the 'Caps. Carl Robinson's breaking point seemed to be reached with his epic rant after the loss in KC, but referee Ricardo Salazar's inept performance in the late, late loss to NYC took the biscuit. He was lucky to get out of BC Place in one piece after awarding Frank Lampard as non a penalty as you could imagine. As the bottles rained down on his head postgame, he bizarrely was not disciplined by MLS or PRO. 2014 winner: Mark Geiger 2013 winner: Will Johnson 2012 winner: David Ferreira 2011 winner: Tommy Soehn ********** TACKLE OF THE YEAR: WINNER: MATIAS LABA (at MONTREAL 12/08/15) - Another back to back winner! It was one of those that you just couldn't help sitting at home and screaming "what a tackle" out loud as soon as it happened. It was just such an involuntary reaction and coming with the scores all tied and approaching half time in the Canadian Championship final, a vitally important tackle to boot. Can he grab a hat-trick of wins on 2016? Let's hope we have a few to pick from. You can watch it HERE. 2014 winner: Matias Laba (Home v Dallas 4/10/14) 2013 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker (at San Jose) {new award that year} ********** MISS OF THE YEAR AWARD: WINNER: KEKUTA MANNEH at SAN JOSE (03/10/15) - No matter how many times you watch this, you still find yourself asking "how did he, or someone, not score that". You're in to stoppage time, you're tied at 1-1. you need the three points to keep your Supporters Shield hopes alive, there's second left and then a quick breakaway with the ball at the feet of Manneh on a 2 on 1 surge. What could possibly go wrong? A lot as it turned out. Thankfully not as costly as we feared at the time, but lucky it wasn't. This one will likely still give Kekuta the sweats every time he thinks about it! (Watch below from the 3:20 mark) Runner-up: Octavio Rivero (home v Toronto 07/03/2015) - Now we're also going to include a runner-up here as it was very close to call between these two. Rivero's First Kick miss made us wonder just what kind of player Carl Robinson had brought to the club. Mind you, one season on, we're still wondering a little! This was a horror miss. Blame the turf! (watch below from 0:22 mark) 2014 winner: Darren Mattocks (Lifetime Achievement award) 2013 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker (v Columbus) {new award} ********** BEST AWAYDAY : WINNER: SEATTLE (3-0 win on 01/08/15) - Maybe we should just retire this award now. A Seattle awayday has won it for the third straight year. There's just something about taking the absolute piss out of the Sounders in front of their own fans that will just never, ever get old. This 3-0 trouncing was magical though thanks to two fantastic goals from Pa Modou Kah and one hell of a free-kick from Pedro Morales. Sadly it was all downhill against our Cascadian rivals after these three points. 2014 winner Seattle (Cascadia Cup clinching 1-0 win - 10/10/14) 2013 winner: Seattle (Cascadia Cup clinching 4-1 win - 09/10/14) 2012 winner: Orlando (preseason Mickey Mouse Cup win!) 2011 winner: Portland (in general) ********** MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT : WINNER: PLAYOFF BLANKS - The 'Caps worked so hard to get to the playoffs and to get that previously elusive home playoff game, which is why it was sad and disappointing to see them end the year with a whimper rather than a bang. No goals over two playoff legs against Portland. In the first they were facing a tired team that had just been through 120 plus minutes of football less than 72 hours ago. In the second they had nothing to offer after Manneh went down injured. Embarrassing? You could argue they came up against a tough Timbers side or that it's harsh to call it that after what had been before, but to go out in such a weak way was poor and if the players weren't embarrassed by the lack of fight they put up, then they should have been. 2014 winner: The Camilo Saga 2013 winner: Jun Marques Davidson's headbutt against Philadelphia 2012 winner: Failure to beat TFC in three games 2011 winner: The Empire grass pitch debacle ********** DISGRACE OF THE YEAR : WINNER: MLS SCHEDULING - Just who comes up with the MLS schedule and who thought it was a good idea to schedule two crunch Vancouver clashes with Dallas during an international fixture window? The two top teams in the West, battling for Supporters' Shield honours and missing top players to international duty. While we're at it, with 20 teams in the league there is no reason whatsoever for teams to get bye weeks and then force teams to cram in less attended midweek matches. The 'Caps end of season schedule was baffling. In a 22 day stretch between August 30th and September 19th, Vancouver played two MLS matches. Way to help a team's rhythm. And they ended the regular season with two out of three midweek matches. WTF is up with all that? Someone needs to give their heads a serious shake. 2014 winner: Late "fans" 2013 winner: Losing the Voyageurs Cup by not having a man on the post 2012 winner: Sekeres and Price for reaction to "Fuck You Dallas" chant 2011 winner: Sportsnet ********** THINGS WE'D LOVE MLS TO CHANGE : WINNER: THE STANDARD OF REFEREEING - Maybe this should be the other award we should retire, since this has won it four of the five years we've done these awards now. But man, it just never seems to get any better. In fact if anything the standard has regressed. Whether it's awarding penalties that aren't, ruling off goals, missing the point and foul completely, this year felt that the PRO refs had got even worse. Something need to be done to save Carl Robinson from blowing a gasket and having to fork over so much of his money to the fine fund. Runner-up: Stop playing MLS games on international dates - (See above). It's not hard. Fans want to see the best players turn out for their clubs. It devalues the league to have crunch games like Dallas v Vancouver played with so many players away on international duty. There are so many other alternative dates. It's beyond ridiculous now and if frankly embarrassing. 3rd: Reward academy players who show promise - I'd love to see MLS fall into line with leagues and clubs around the world when it comes to rewarding academy talent. I'm not talking about financially here, but in terms of rewarding effort and performance down the ranks. If a youth player has had a stand out week or two in the Residency or USL, then Robbo should be allowed to reward that by putting him on the bench to see how he fares with the first team. A standard practice the world over. 2014 winner: The standard of refereeing (back from the dead!) 2013 winner: Transparency of rules 2012 and 2011 winner: The standard of refereeing ********** THE WILLIE JOHNSTON "DID THAT JUST REALLY HAPPEN?" AWARD : WINNER: PA MODOU KAH RIDING A HOVERBOARD AFTER CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP WIN - Nothing else needs said. Epic. Legend. And the fact he collected his medal by riding up on it is even better. 2014 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker's wanking gesture on national TV 2013 winner: Three goals in 140 seconds in Caps v Portland match 2012 winner: Darren Mattocks aerial goal in Toronto 2011 winner: Eric Hassli's double jersey sending off celebration ********** THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY AWARD: WINNER: DARIO ZANATTA - Former Residency goalkeeper Callum Irving came a close second here, after the 'Caps have lost his homegrown rights and he'll be heading into the draft, but instead we're giving it to another Residency player they've lost out on. Dario Zanatta was looking like a top prospect. He'd banged the goals in at U16 level, he was doing it at U18 level and with the USL team here, that looked like the natural next step. Except the Whitecaps came in with a lowball offer to the striker and he felt he had no option but to continue his footballing career in pastures new. After a few trials in the UK and Europe, he settled in at Hearts in Scotland this summer. He's excelled with the Jambo's U20s and has now made three appearances for the first team, the most recent of which came on December 27th in the 2-2 home draw with Celtic and in yesterday's 3-2 win over Dundee United. Zanatta's future looks very bright, but sadly for the 'Caps, this was a major mess up from the front office in letting him get away. 2014 winner: The missing link - a new striker (sound familiar?!!) 2013 winner: Alain Rochat 2012 winner: John Carew 2011 winner: Robbie Savage ********** QUOTE OF THE YEAR : WINNER: RUSSELL TEIBERT - "Every team in this league has stars, we do too. It'll be a match up with 11 men, all humans." (05/03/15) - With a lot of the focus on TFC's expensive players coming to Vancouver for First Kick, Rusty is keeping his feet firmly on Earth. 2014 winner: Andy O'Brien - "They keep chanting my name for some reason. I don't know why it is!" 2013 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker's comments on Dallas' divers 2012 winner: none awarded 2011 winner: Tommy Soehn - "It doesn't take much to turn a team around" ********** THE "PLEASE JUST SHUT UP" AWARD: WINNER: POINTLESS JOURNALISM AND CLICKBAIT SITES - If there's one thing that seems to piss me off more year upon year is the seeming non-stop rise of pointless journalism. "How can you say that when yesterday you ran a piece on funny football related TV shows?" I hear you cry, well, let me continue. Now it could be argued that most journalism is pointless (!) but there's a number of sites out there, and you know who they are and they know who they are, that seem to feel the need to write an article on every little announcement as if they seem to think that that is actually quality journalism. If the 'Caps put out a press release for example or something is said on twitter and you put that article out as a "news story" verbatim, without any comment or analysis, what point are you actually serving the football community and football media in general? You're a cut and paster, not a journalist or blogger. It's fine once in a while but all the time? Same with humour. We run a lot of nonsense, but at least it's original nonsense that some thought and time has gone in to! Sites need to decide - what are you? A breaking news site or a blog/site that wants to actually analyse what goes on behind the initial story? If you want breaking news on the 'Caps, surely their own site is the place most people go. It's like the string of people on matchdays that tweet out things like "1-0 Caps. Rivero". Yeah, like I haven't already seen that a couple of dozen times in my feed. Also a two or three hundred word "story" is not quality journalism. It's a facebook post. Are you really proud to have your name to that or something that is just a virtual word for word paste of a press release? I'll admit, in these changing times of technology and low attention spans (you still reading this far?!) and everybody wanting to be first to report something or to make sure that no-one else has some content that you don't, the days of the long form article may be numbered, although we still get an excellent number of visitors every month for such things. For me, it should always be quality over quantity. Don't run five or seven articles a week because you feel you have to or your managing editor it telling you that's the standard. That's why all our writers are told write what you want, when you want. That way you get the stuff people actually want to take time to write. When quality football publications like "Plastic Pitch" may go out of business but websites that chase the clicks and ad revenue continue to thrive, it's a sad world. Ok, rant over. Happy New Year! 2014 winner: People wanting the 'Caps to open the upper tier 2013 winner: Media who can't grasp concept of football decisions being made above the manager 2012 winner: Old media fuddy duddies who just don't get football crowds 2011 joint winners: Craig MacEwen and Martin Nash ********** HAIRCUT OF THE YEAR : WINNER: CHRISTIAN DEAN'S BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN STREAK- Like my own hair, 2015 was a thin year for 'Caps haircuts. So we're going for the bizarre blonde flash that Dean favoured early in the season. Felt like a cross between the Bride of Frankenstein and some superhero that had been given superfast speed powers. Interestingly, Dean's best performances came once he got rid of that look! 2014 winner: Russell Teibert's Playoff special 2013 winner: Tommy Heinemann's Werewolf look 2012 winner: Greg Klazura's Shaven Locks 2011 winner: Eric Hassli's Mohawk ********** THE MUSTAPHA JARJU "WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY" AWARD : WINNER: THE 'CAPS ILL THOUGHT OUT CASCADIA CUP SCARVES - Flashpoints between the 'Caps Front Office and the Supporters' groups have reduced in recent years. Publically at least. But the club gave themselves a PR nightmare when they tried to produce a Cascadia Cup scarf at the start of the season, going against the supporters' trademark rights to the image of the trophy. There was uproar online and in the end profits were donated to charity as a tense agreement was reached late in the day. But it all left some bad tastes in the fans' mouths along the way. 2014 winner: Nigel Reo-Coker 2013 winner: Darren Mattocks 2012 winner: Kenny Miller 2011 winner: The Empire grass pitch ********** THE PAUL BARBER "TALKING OUT OF YOUR ASS" AWARD : WINNER: THOSE WANTING THE UPPER BOWL OPENED - Every year it's the same old chatter. A lot of it coming from the vapid non-football talking heads on the radio. "The 'Caps need to open the upper bowl to cash in on their growing attendances". It's absolute nonsense. The market is not there yet to justify it. "But Seattle do it", "they're stunting growth" and "it'll add to the atmosphere" are all thrown out. Well, We're not Seattle and adding a bunch of non regulars and, often, newbies, isn't going to create a cacophony of noise as some expect. Others argue it will make the 'Caps more money to spend on players, forgetting that money has to be spend on increased security, policing, concessions, cleaning etc. Plus opening up a small section of the upper bowl would look terrible, as the Women's World Cup demonstrated. I'm all for opening up the entire lower bowl. The Portland playoff game was a success in that regards. But the demand is not there for every game and I think people fail to realise just how tough it has been for the 'Caps to sell out all the games they have. It's a long, hard slog. Even the crucial regular season finale against Houston took a while to sell out. The demand is not there yet and may never be. Opening up the upper bowl for a one-off does little for the 'Caps sustained long term growth. 2014 winner: Omar Salgado and his string of apologies for his attitude 2013 winner: Darren Mattocks' Jamaican TV interview 2012 winner: Media pundits disrespecting Caps achievement in reaching playoffs 2011 winner: Paul Barber ********** And that's the end of our 2015 awards. Share your thoughts on the award winners below. Who knows what next year will bring? Hopefully even more success!
  11. MONDAY 19.00 - 19.30: THE MUPPETS - Documentary series following Seattle's Emerald City Supporters group. 19.30 - 20.00: TWO BROKE GIRLS - The continuing comedic adventures of Toronto fans Max and Caroline. After selling their cupcakes on the street to cover their TFC betting losses, they now have to sell their bodies after being convinced that with all the money spent, 2015 would finally be Toronto FC's year. Will they ever learn? And can they raise more than ten bucks a time if they're wearing their TFC strips? 20.00 - 21.00: EMPIRE - Bobby Lenarduzzi and Carl Valentine join the AFTN crew for more chat about the 'Caps NASL days at Empire Stadium. This week, those crazy shootouts and other weird and wacky rule changes. 21.00 - 22.00: NCIS LOS ANGELES - The NCIS team face their toughest task yet. Can they find where Steven Gerrard's talent has gone? Has it sunk without trace? Having looked all at sea in MLS, they're going to have to dive deep to try and recover it, unaware that it's lost forever. 22.00 - 00.00: MONDAY MOVIES - THE NOTEBOOK - No romance here in this dramatic re-enactment of real life events from the US Open Cup. Starring a spoiled little brat Charlie Sheen as Clint Dempsey and Stevie Wonder as referee Daniel Radford. Expect tears, tantrums and origami as the Deuce lets rip. TUESDAY 19.00 - 20.00: HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER - Educational series for MLS clubs analysing LA Galaxy's magical workings of the league's salary cap. 20.00 - 21.00: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW - Ongoing documentary series chronicling Vancouver Whitecaps' Residency program. 21.00 - 22.00: KARMA AND GREG - Comedy in which a bumbling Toronto football manager gets his just desserts as once again it's shown that spending a shitload of money doesn't guarantee success in Major League Soccer. Tonight's episode - "It really is a bitch Greg". 22.00 - 23.00: CHICAGO FIRED - Comedy-drama about an out of touch, no longer with the times manager called Frank who finally gets found out in the Windy City and heads down to where many other elderly Canadians go out to graze, Arizona. 23.00 - 00.00: THE HEX FILES - Mulder and Scully are called when unexplained phenomena are reported in Vancouver, where not only is a Canadian men's national team match being played in the city, but Canada also beat Honduras in World Cup qualifying in the said match. Paranormal or alien activities are surely at play. With hopes raised, surely horror is around the corner. WEDNESDAY 19.00 - 20.00: HOUSE OF CURDS - Depressed by his Seattle soccer team's futile existence, an overweight football manager puts on his elasticated pants and runs away to Canada on a personal journey to find himself and eat as much poutine as possible. A cheesy comedy. 20.00 - 21.00: SUITS - Mockumentary series about Major League Soccer's executive. In tonight's episode there's panic when there's no clean napkins left and a new player acquisition rule needs to be written. 21.00 - 22.00: THE MYSTERIES OF MAURO - Tonight, just how does Mauro Rosales get his hair so soft and shiny? 22.00 - 00.00: MIDWEEK MOVIE - DEEP IMPACT - An African footballer's desire to move back to London leaves a hole in his Montreal team the size of a comet hitting the Earth. A PR disaster movie. THURSDAY 19.00 - 19.30: KOFFIE OR T? - In our new gameshow, Vancouver Whitecaps players are given five random facts and have to guess whether each one is about Gershon Koffie or Russell Teibert. Hilarity ensues, but who will win this week's much sought after golden milk carton? 19.30 - 20.00: THE LEFTOVERS - Fly on the wall documentary series telling the sad tales of what happens to the MLS players not selected in the annual Waiver Draft. Tonight's episode - "Why yes, I would like fries with that". 20.00 - 21.00: ELEMENTARY - Criminal drama set in New York City. Sherlock and Dr Kendall Waston investigate how the city's new expansion team can spend a fortune on star players yet fail to make the MLS playoffs and finish the year with the worst defensive record in the league. Spoiler - after taking one look at their defence, the answer proved elementary. 21.00 - 22.00: ASH VILE - Shocking reality. After his previous derogatory remarks made about MLS, washed up has-been Ashley Cole shows how shameless he and the Galaxy both are, as rumours swirl around his potential move to LA. 22.00 - 23.00: SAVING HOPE - Non stop drama in the life of a female goalkeeper. Can anyone help her? 23.00 - 00.00: THE WELSH LATE LATE SHOW - Robert Earnshaw's talk show. Tonight, the former Welsh international dissects his knack for coming on in the dying minutes and scoring goals. Featuring footage of his late, late winner for Vancouver against Portland throughout the program. FRIDAY 19.00 - 19.30: THE WEAKEST LINK - Our TFI Friday gameshow hour kicks off with a blast from the past. Tonight, Mo Johnston, John Carver, Chris Cummins, Preki, Nick Dasovic, Aron Winter, Paul Mariner, Ryan Nelsen and Greg Vanney battle it out to see who will be crowned the biggest managerial clusterfuck in Toronto FC history. This one is too close to call and is sure to go down to the wire. 19.30 - 20.00: BARGAIN HUNT - The Whitecaps FO sends Carl Robinson and his blue team to central America with $500 to see what bargains they can find. Remarkably they come back in the allotted one hour with a striker, a midfielder and a bag of balls to swap for Darren Mattocks. 20.00 - 21.00: LAST MAN STANDING - Documentary chronicling the mass exodus of LA Galaxy players this MLS offseason. Will there be anyone left to turn out the lights? 21.00 - 22.00: LENNY DREADFUL - The Steven Lenhart story. 22.00 - 00.00: FRIDAY FILM NIGHT - INGLORIOUS BASTARDS - Biopic set in the world of PRO Referees.
  12. 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. We chat about all of this and more. 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. 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!
  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. If you want to catch up on our previous "Keep, Trade or Release" picks, here are the links - 2014 - GOALKEEPERS AND DEFENDERS / MIDFIELDERS AND FORWARDS 2013 - GOALKEEPERS / DEFENDERS / MIDFIELDERS / FORWARDS ********** MIDFIELDERS: MARCO BUSTOS AARON - (Keep) Back up to Morales next season would be the best for him and his development. Let's hope he is injury free next season. JAY - (Keep) Marco Bustos didn't get much time due to an unfortunate injury, but still provided plenty of prowess at the USL level and even contributed when he played with the senior team. A rare talent in Canadian soccer, Bustos has the creativity and skill that the MLS team could have used in the tail end of the year. MICHAEL - (Keep) Damn that training pitch injury. Derailed Bustos' development slightly but what he showed in USL was exciting for the future. Looked good in preseason. Doesn't look like he'll be out of place in MLS. Onwards and upwards! Needs to work on being less selfish on the ball and get out of the arm waving he sometimes falls in to STEVE - (Keep) Started the season with injury issues but when he came back he had some bright moments with WFC2 and should see some playing time next year. DEYBI FLORES AARON - (Decline to sign) Way too inconsistent for MLS. The game is too technical and physical for him. JAY - (Decline to sign) Other than his first appearance for the Whitecaps, Flores has failed to really show that he's close enough to keep around, while Kianz Froese, a Canadian Residency player, has shown he's closer to being the completed player. MICHAEL - (Decline to sign) I personally wouldn't bring him back. He looked good in his first appearance, then felt he got worse with every MLS game. Didn't impress but Robbo seems to feel he has potential to grow and is still young. I expect him to be back, as the 'Caps pick up his signing option. STEVE - (Decline to sign) As a loanee he didn’t overly impress and would take up an international spot if he returned. KIANZ FROESE AARON - (Keep) Had a good season but would love to see him get more first team minutes. Needs to make most of the minutes he does get. JAY - (Keep) Froese has never looked out of place when he played in the first eleven. The only hope is that Kianz can find more minutes with the big club to show his ability at any of the many positions he's capable of contributing in. MICHAEL - (Keep) A further strong season of development. Now has his first pro goal. Nowhere near his ceiling yet and we should see a lot more of him, and even more production from him, next season. STEVE - (Keep) Had a number of bright moments and should see even more playing time next season. GERSHON KOFFIE AARON - (Trade) Is worth less this season than he was last season. Get maximum return now before he lowers he stock again. JAY - (Trade/Sell) I've always been one of Koffie's biggest fans, but despite being given plenty of opportunity to make the next step, he remains just a decent MLS level midfielder in an already congested position. May want to take a shot at one of the lesser European leagues, and the Whitecaps can afford to trade or sell Koffie to get some value back. MICHAEL - (Trade) He still frustrates me as a player. Still hasn't taken the leap of advancement he's been needing to take the last two seasons. His stock is high with some around the league and there have been enquiries before as to his availability. Maybe last chance to get decent return for him. Other DM options out there interesting Carl Robinson. STEVE (Keep but open to Trade) - Another player who had a solid season but is on a high ticket. The 'Caps may look to move him on in order open up cap space. MATIAS LABA (ALREADY RE-SIGNED) AARON - (Keep) Thank you TFC. JAY - (Keep) An obvious choice to re-sign Laba. The only other defensive midfielder I'd consider a straight swap for in MLS is Dax McCarty. His value may be even greater if the Whitecaps move to a single DM setup. MICHAEL - (Keep) A fantastic season for Laba personally and rewarded with a new multi-year contract. So key for the 'Caps snuffing out attacks in that DM role but has to work on cutting out the reckless and occasionally lax tackles that have proved costly. STEVE - (Keep) Just signed to an extension and will definitely return unless a team comes with an offer that the Whitecaps can’t refuse. KEKUTA MANNEH AARON - (Keep) Great season and the sky is the limit for Manneh. JAY - (Keep) While he can be frustrating when he goes missing for long periods, he's clearly the most explosive player on the Whitecaps, and after he went down in the second leg of the playoff versus Portland, the Whitecaps had almost no creative output. MICHAEL - (Keep) Manneh made big strides this season. A lot more maturity both on and off the pitch. Great defensive awareness added. Has to keep it going now, and I have no doubts that he will. Still a lot of work to do with his finishing and decision making. STEVE - (Keep) Really came on as the season went on and was a dangerous weapon going forward while improving defensively. BEN MCKENDRY AARON - (Keep) USL Player of the Year for ThunderCaps. I am very high on this player and would love to see him get minutes if the team gets rid of Teibert, Koffie and Flores. Could be a back up to Laba on the first team. JAY - (Keep) Another player with first team potential in the midfield, Ben showed enough in USL to earn himself a shot with the senior team. MICHAEL - (Keep) Robbo rates him very highly and had plans for him in the summer before injury thwarted those. He started a little tentatively in USL but soon burst out and was playing really well. He'll make his MLS debut next year, then he needs to grab the brass ring when he does, as he has a lot of competition at his position and he's not getting any younger. STEVE - (Keep) Was voted as WFC2 player of the year and was improving before an injury ended his season. NICOLAS MEZQUIDA AARON - (Keep) Injuries ruined his season. Was the best player on this team for a good 5 to 6 week run when Morales was injured. JAY - (Keep) Another revelation was the play of Mezquida who really was the key cog when the Whitecaps were at their best. While he's not quite at a Mauro Diaz level of creativity as an attacker, his overall attacking emphasis was really missed after his injuries late in the year. MICHAEL - (Keep) Felt that this was a make or break one for Mezquida in Vancouver. He certainly made it! Shame that an injury ended his season early as he seems the key to unlocking Rivero. The link up between those pair and Techera is a joy to watch. Hopefully more to come. STEVE - (Keep) Had a tough time dealing with injuries late into the season but when he played as a number 10 for Morales, the Caps didn’t lose too much. PEDRO MORALES (ALREADY RE-SIGNED) AARON - (Keep) Let's hope he keeps healthy. JAY - (Release) I know it's already a forgone conclusion, but I'd be okay with Morales being cut loose and a more dynamic midfielder brought in. The hope is that Robinson can find a tactical approach which allows for Morales' fantastic distribution ability to be included while allowing for his defensive shortcomings and his lack of emphasis inside the 18. MICHAEL - (Keep) He says he's not worried about his injuries. Robbo says that as well. Wish I felt the same way. Felt a disappointing season for Pedro after his spectacular first year in MLS. Can still spray a ball better than nearly everyone in the league. Need to see that back to the max in 2016. STEVE - (Keep) After signing an extension there is no way Morales is not coming back, but as their most talented player he needs to avoid getting run down as the season went on. MAURO ROSALES AARON - (Trade) Not enough offensive return for his high salary. Yes, experience and leadership is good to have, but this is a salary cap league, like it or not. JAY - (Release) Rosales is a true professional whose heart is never questioned, but some injury issues and questions around how much gas is left in the tank mean he's a high risk at his value. MICHAEL - (Release but want to Keep!) Tough one for me, as listeners to the podcast know how highly I rate Rosales for what he brings both on and off the pitch. As he told us in our latest podcast (Ep 134), he wants to stay. Took a paycut from $400,000 to $265,000 guaranteed for this season. Would need to take about $100,000 off that for me to keep him around. I'd like them to come to a deal as he definitely has value to the team. Just sense they won't be able to. STEVE - (Release) The elder statesman is on a very high salary and unless he takes a big paycut, I can’t see him returning next season. CRISTIAN TECHERA AARON - (Keep) Had a great season and will only be better getting a preseason camp in with this team. JAY - (Keep) Without Techera, the Whitecaps very likely would have missed out on the playoffs. The only question is if the inventive winger can continue his rather significant contributions and if the Whitecaps can execute the option to buy without breaking the bank. MICHAEL - (Keep) One of, if not the, player of the second half of the season. Hopefully 'Caps have a set transfer fee for him as I think he's going to be even better in MLS next year. STEVE - (Keep) Unless there is a large transfer fee needed to bring him back there is doubt Techera should return next season. RUSSELL TEIBERT AARON - (Trade) If he isn't good enough to be a consistent MLS starter and earn quality MLS minutes, might be time to move on from Teibert. JAY - (Keep) Jack of all trades, master of none. Teibert again showed value for the Whitecaps this year as he contributed well in a defensive midfielder roll, but he still has failed to either show he's a tough enough tackler as a true DM or get forward enough to contribute as an attacking midfielder. I'd keep Teibert as he's such an excellent squad player. MICHAEL - (Trade) I'd release him but 'Caps would want to get something for him is he was to move on. For me, he's not MLS starting quality right now and he won't get there if he doesn't play. He needs to move on, best outside of North America, to be a starter somewhere for his own development. Far better options in 'Caps squad for the positions he can play. He's reached a fork in the road. STEVE - (Keep) I was surprised he didn’t get as much playing time down the stretch but the Caps still hope his long term future is with Vancouver. FORWARDS: CALEB CLARKE AARON - (Trade/Sell) I would say Keep but he would at best be a USL only player. Don't think he will settle for that. JAY - (Release) It was kind of a shocker that Clarke even came back after a falling out with the Whitecaps in seasons past. Either way, Clarke didn't show enough to earn a spot with the big team, so it's time to let Caleb go find somewhere he has a chance. MICHAEL - (Release) This was the make or break season for Clarke. He looked okay at USL level but not MLS quality right now. We don't know for sure as he never saw a single minute there. I feel he's gone as far as he can with the 'Caps right now. STEVE - (Release) He played this season with WFC2, had moments, and may be looking to return to Germany next year. ROBERT EARNSHAW AARON - (Keep) Was way under used this season. Would be that experience factor if they let Rosales go. JAY - (Keep) The only question for me is why Earnshaw wasn't played more this season. If the Whitecaps do move to a two striker set-up, there would be more minutes to go around for the forwards and Earnshaw still has value if he was played for more than 5 minutes every few games. Not to mention his desire to get into coaching, and it makes sense to keep Earnshaw around if he was used properly. MICHAEL - (Release but happy to keep around) You wonder just how he, and the 'Caps, would have done if he'd played more. Was strange how Robbo used him this year, but to be fair, when he did play (in Champions League), he looked a step off. But give him a chance and he's the Whitecap striker I'd back most to score. Cheap value at $100,000 so I wouldn't be too averse to him hanging around for his experience if he performs, but likely to head back to lower league club in UK and to work on his coaching qualifications. STEVE - (Release) As with Mattocks below, the striker position needs to improve and Earnshaw is on his last legs. ERIK HURTADO AARON - (Keep) Give him a training camp to see what he learned when he got sent to Norway on loan. If he struggles, release him. JAY - (Release) Hurtado has been given plenty of chances to show he has more than just physical ability and he's failed to do so. Even if Hurtado were to return, he'd only be taking away opportunities from players like Froese, so it's time to finally move Erik along. MICHAEL - (Trade) Dreadful season for Hurtado, who seems to have gone backwards. Loaned to Norway but ended up riding the pine as his team got relegated. The plan is for him to come back to preseason camp but his time in Vancouver must surely be running out. I genuinely believe that his performances, and goals, in that hot streak he was on in 2014 will see interest from others in MLS for some kind of trade, even if just for allocation or a draft pick. STEVE - (Release) Another player who needs to move on in order clear both a roster spot and some, limited, cap space. ANDRE LEWIS AARON - (Release) Too injury prone. Not strong enough for the MLS. JAY - (Release) Another player who just hasn't shown he's good enough for the MLS level, and he's taking up development minutes from Residency players. MICHAEL - (Release) He has speed, he has skills, but he's not going to be a MLS player for the 'Caps so no point continuing with him. STEVE - (Release) See Hurtado. Plus he takes up an international spot. DARREN MATTOCKS AARON - (Trade) Maybe he could just play for Jamaica year round. Seems to only score for his national team. JAY - (Trade/Release) He's being paid to contribute way more than he does, and his personality just doesn't seem to suit the club. Mattocks has still failed to find any form with club despite successes with his country. It's time for the club to move on with Darren, and that would be best for both parties. MICHAEL - (Trade) I've had him leaving for three years now I think! His highest trade value was going to be in the summer after the Gold Cup. Stock has fallen again but many teams still rate him highly. He'll probably now excel elsewhere. Caleb Porter still loves him, so let's keep those Mattocks for Will Johnson trade rumours rumbling, or to Houston for Bruin. STEVE - (Trade) The Whitecaps need to find a way to move Mattocks on to improve the back-up striker position, even if the return isn’t at full value. OCTAVIO RIVERO AARON - (Keep) Hit a wall and struggled for a long part of the season. Will be more comfortable next season and hopefully he has help up top. JAY - (Keep) Despite misplacing his shooting boots at the end of the season, Rivero still showed he has a real deep skill set. Octavio looked much better when he had a strike partner, and it seems like Robinson will be considering bringing in either a partner or competition for Octavio up top. It wouldn't surprise me to see Rivero have a real breakout year if he has better support around him. MICHAEL - (Keep) Rivero's not going anywhere. He was very self critical after season and promises better production. Highest workrate on the team and left on an island up front at times, but he needs to be pushed. Robbo's going to bring in at least one more striker. I expect two or three. If the formation doesn't change it could be to replace Rivero as the starter. Then does he want to hang around and fight? STEVE - (Keep) Rivero needs another season to see if he can become a consistent scorer especially with a potential payoff down the road. Needs competition at the spot. ********* So there’s our thoughts on the Whitecaps midfielders and forwards from the season past. Do you agree or are we talking nonsense? Let us know below!
  17. We'll of course play our part as we look to put the willies into the rumour mill. Two of them - Bruin and Johnson. The Whitecaps will retain their solid core, but new additions are necessary to make the squad stronger and more productive in front of goal. You can make additions without subtracting in MLS, so with all that in mind, it’s time for AFTN’s annual "Keep, Trade or Release" feature. We asked AFTN’s writers to take a look at the current Whitecaps squad and say whether they would keep them around for next season, trade them or sell them for more valuable assets or to fill positions of need, or just release them into the wild altogether. Part One kicks things off with a look at the goalkeepers and defenders. Part Two tomorrow will look at the midfielders and forwards. And don’t forget to leave your thoughts below. If you want to catch up on our previous "Keep, Trade or Release" picks, here are the links - 2014 - GOALKEEPERS AND DEFENDERS / MIDFIELDERS AND FORWARDS 2013 - GOALKEEPERS / DEFENDERS / MIDFIELDERS / FORWARDS ********** GOALKEEPERS: MARCO CARDUCCI AARON – (Keep) There is no reason Carducci should not get Canadian Championship and the majority of the USL minutes next season. Make or break year in 2016 for Carducci. JAY - (Keep) After early season injury issues, Carducci started slow but looked better as the season went on with WFC2. While his shot stopping ability has never been questioned, his ability to be aggressive in the box remains the main issue, causing hesitation should Carducci be given minutes at the MLS level. Another season with lots of minutes at USL should allow the smaller framed keeper a chance to show he can play with some more control. MICHAEL – (Keep/Loan Deal) Tough year for Carducci. No first team minutes and having to share USL ones with Spencer Ritchie, who outperformed him at times. Would almost serve his career better to go out on loan for key developmental minutes but no guarantee of more minutes there either. STEVE – (Keep) Didn’t feel like he got enough playing time, but he still seems to be the future at the goalkeeping position. DAVID OUSTED AARON - (Keep) Has proven to be a top class MLS goalkeeper. Let's hope he doesn't find a second tier English or Spanish club to move on to. JAY - (Keep) David Ousted has shown he's one of, if not the best keeper in the league. His distribution and control of the box are a real key to the Whitecaps ability to play the quick counter. Considering Ousted's intention to move to Europe one day, a pay increase on his already decent wage will be required - and the Whitecaps should pay it. MICHAEL – (Keep) If we can. Asked him last week and it was a very non-commital answer. Caps will definitely pick up option but he’s bound to attract interest from Europe. Some was already there a year ago. STEVE – (Keep) One of the top keepers in MLS, Ousted should return unless another club comes with an offer. PAOLO TORNAGHI AARON – (Release) Had a good run in Canadian Championship and a not so good run in Champions League. Time for Tornaghi to move on in his career to find a club that can offer more quality minutes. JAY - (Keep) Paolo looked rusty in his earlier minutes this season, but he regained form and looked a comfortable backup overall. His wage is easy to swallow, so the only reasons to drop Tornaghi would be if he wants to make a bid for a club where he'll get more playing time, or if the Whitecaps feel Carducci is ready to make the jump. MICHAEL – (Release) He’s been loyal, he loves it here, but he should move on, for his own sake as well. Can ‘Caps get a capable back up for less than $80,000? For sure. The ideal scenario would be to sign Callum Irving out of Kentucky, but they may have lost his homegrown rights and he looks to be going into the draft. STEVE – (Keep) If he is ok with being the backup next year then Tornaghi should be back. DEFENDERS: SAM ADEKUGBE AARON – (KEEP) Injuries prevented him from keeping his starting role he earned in training camp last season. Now that he is healthy let's hope he can continue on that track. JAY - (KEEP) Hard not to feel bad for Adekugbe who took his opportunity and looked MLS ready before his injury. A no brainer to keep Sam and try and find room to get him more minutes in MLS play. MICHAEL – (KEEP) You know it’s just a matter of when, and not if, he’ll be the ‘Caps starting left back. Has the skill and hasn’t looked out of place in his starts, but just need to reign in his aggressive tackling style a little bit to really excel. STEVE – (KEEP) Looked like he was becoming the regular at left back before injury saw him return to the bench. He really needs to get a long stretch of games to start next season. STEVEN BEITASHOUR AARON - (KEEP) Not a huge Beitashour fan but unless we bring in a quality RB he is the best option they have. JAY - (KEEP) One of the more tough decisions for me, as I think Beitashour has done admirably, but despite his decent total of five assists this year, Steven doesn't provide as much attacking emphasis as you'd want if the Whitecaps are to want a more narrow tactical option in a two striker set-up to help provide width. I could see one of Beitashour or Harvey departing, and if the Whitecaps want to invest in a higher paid, quality, two way fullback I could see Beitashour moving on. MICHAEL – (TRADE) Agree that there needs to be a good option to come in, butyou can certainly find one for better value than his near $200,000 guaranteed amount and a more productive one to boot. Caps and player want to get a deal done, but it's all coming down to the $$$. If Beitashour is prepared to sign for much less than his option amount then he'll stay. If not, the right back search is on once more. STEVE – (TRADE) Had solid season but on a high ticket. Caps may look to move him in order open up cap space. CHRISTIAN DEAN AARON - (TRADE) This is probably the time to get the most return in a trade for Dean. Too many quality CB's ahead of him on depth chart. JAY - (TRADE) Although he made strides this season, he is still well behind Parker on the depth chart and he still holds value as a prospect. The Whitecaps should make good on this value and try and get something back for their high draft pick. MICHAEL – (KEEP) Selfishly, from a 'Caps point of view, he needs to stay. Still good potential and a known quantity as a back up. From Dean's point of view though, he needs to play at this crucial time of his career and a trade or a loan deal may be the better choice. STEVE – (RELEASE) It might be a better option for the former first round pick to move on so he can get more playing time. If he’s ok with being the third or fourth option then a return is a possibility. JORDAN HARVEY AARON - (TRADE) Has been a great player for the club but it's Adekugbe time. Don't see Harvey settling for a backup role next season. JAY - (KEEP) After a mediocre opening couple of matches, Harvey lost his starting spot to the youthful Adekugbe. After Adekugbe went down with an injury, Harvey showed some of his best overall form as a professional, keeping young Sam out of the starting line-up. Harvey remains one of the most steady fullbacks in the league for a reasonable salary. MICHAEL – (KEEP) I like Harvey. I like what he brings both on and off the pitch and the 'Caps needs some veteran presence. He ideally wants to stay, see out his career in Vancouver and battle for the starting role. Fine on $150,000, but would be even better on a slightly lower amount, but that and his MLS experience, that will interest others, is what could see him traded. STEVE – (TRADE) Another one with a solid season but in a high ticket. Like Beitashour, Caps may want to move him on. PA MODOU KAH AARON - (RELEASE) Injury prone. Time to retire. JAY - (KEEP) Another tough decision, as Kah's value is more as a locker room asset than for his gameday value. While he played very well for the majority of his minutes, he's clearly the number three centreback now and if he's happy with that, the Whitecaps could keep him around. MICHAEL – (KEEP) Kah isn't going anywhere. Robbo wants him here and he wants to stay. You can't really put a financial amount on what he brings to this locker room. He's a welcome and an invaluable presence, and has formed excellent partnerships with Waston and Parker. STEVE – (KEEP with conditions) Started more games than I thought he would but with Parker emerging, Kah will have to accept less money and playing time to return. TIM PARKER AARON - (KEEP) Was the biggest surprise this season. Stepped into some big games and was great this season. Has a bright future in the MLS. JAY - (KEEP) A revelation at centreback, Parker instantly looked like a veteran MLS player. The only real issue is neither he or Waston are exactly good ball playing centrebacks, but that's really nitpicking regarding a Rookie of the Year candidate who has solidified his spot as an extremely capable defender. MICHAEL – (KEEP) No brainer. Next year's starter. Nuff said. STEVE – (KEEP) Took massive steps in his rookie season to become a starter and will surely return to that position next year. DIEGO RODRIGUEZ AARON - (DECLINE TO SIGN) Wasn't very good at all this season. Injuries and suspensions derailed his first year in North America. JAY - (DECLINE TO SIGN) A real shame, as Diego looked like he would slot in nicely beside Waston early in the year, but after battling injury and form issues, it's clear Rodriguez needs a change of scenery. It's too bad, because in theory a calm, ball playing centreback would be perfect beside Waston. MICHAEL – (DECLINE TO SIGN) Had high hopes, but he's disappointed. Yes, injuries have played a part, and you have to feel for a guy that's been through so much after moving to a new country. But his USL performances were poor and his confidence looks shot. STEVE – (DECLINE TO SIGN) Many, including myself, thought he would start alongside Waston but after injury and an unfortunate suspension, Rodriguez never recovered. ETHEN SAMPSON AARON - (RELEASE) Time to move on. JAY - (RELEASE) Sampson must really hear the clock ticking, as he's been around the Whitecaps camp for a while now and has shown his limits far more than any potential. It's time to move Sampson along. MICHAEL – (RELEASE) Didn't like him when he first came but he slowly won me over. Then he seemed to go backwards. Can see him being loaned out so 'Caps can have a look for afar but keep his rights. I'd just cut bait at this stage now. STEVE – (RELEASE) His time in Vancouver seems to be done as he saw very little action in MLS over the last two years. JORDAN SMITH AARON - (RELEASE) Not sound enough defensively for this team. He was caught out of position too many times. JAY - (KEEP) There's no question that Smith has some decent potential, and he certainly looks much more willing and able to join in the attack including a howitzer of a shot, but his defending has been poor and if not for his excellent make-up speed, he'd have been a disaster on the defensive side. I'd like to see Smith come back, but perhaps spending a lot of time with the USL side. MICHAEL – (KEEP) Like Waston the year before, was lined up for January but came early. Jury is still out on him. Looks far better at training than in some games. Strong going forward but poor defending and getting back. STEVE – (KEEP) Came in late in the summer transfer window and showed some flashes along with difficult times defending at the right side. KENDALL WASTON AARON - (KEEP) Team MVP. Should have been MLS Defender of Year. JAY - (KEEP) The most physically dominant centreback in the league has to be retained, even if it means a raise and using some allocation or TAM to keep him under a DP salary. MICHAEL – (KEEP) Another no brainer obviously, but if he keeps playing the way he is, it won't be long before there's interest from elsewhere. 'Caps will need to pay him his worth and we could see TAM come into play here. STEVE – (KEEP) Was the team’s MVP and will return to anchor the backline. ********* So there’s our thoughts on the Whitecaps goalkeepers and defenders from the season past. Do you agree or are we talking nonsense? Part Two will be up soon, where we’ll have a look at the midfielders and the forwards.
  18. 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!
  19. 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!
  20. REPORT: Well that's it all over for another season. Vancouver Whitecaps playoff dreams and MLS Cup hopes came crashing to a halt at BC Place on Sunday evening after an electrifying atmosphere and start fizzled out. What started out as a night to remember, ended as a night to forget, as goals from Fanendo Adi and Diego Chara gave Portland Timbers a fairly comfortable 2-0 win over a Whitecaps side that seemed short of ideas and any real attacking threat after Kekuta Manneh limped off with an ankle injury after just 26 minutes. Manneh had looked to be the game changer for Vancouver in a fast-paced start. As it turns out, he was, but it was due to his injury. The Whitecaps failure to get an away goal down in Portland also proved costly, as did their continued inability to turn their numerous chances into goals. Whitecaps' talismanic captain Pedro Morales returned to the starting line-up, in the only Vancouver change from the first leg, with Diego Chara returning to Portland's starting eleven. Only one of them was to have a huge influence in the game. Sadly for the 'Caps, it was Chara. With the first goal crucial, Vancouver attacked from the off and it was an electrifying start to the match from both teams. Kekuta Manneh was amped up for this one and causing the Timbers a lot of early problems. The Gambian fired a low shot narrowly wide right in the 6th minute, then followed it up moments later by running at the Portland defence and crashing another low shot off the left post, bouncing off the back of Timbers' keeper Adam Kwarasey and past for a corner. Diego Valeri had Portland's best chance in the 14th minute, with a long range curler that went wide. Vancouver's early pressure and efforts had come to nothing. It's something we've seen all season, with mixed results by the end of it. The 'Caps were then dealt a blow midway through the half when Manneh slipped and went over on his ankle and had to be replaced by Mauro Rosales. With two attacking midfielders now on the pitch that may struggle to see the end of the match, Vancouver's depth was going to be tested. Then things took an ever worse turn for the 'Caps in the 31st minute when the Timbers took the lead. Diego Valeri received the ball out left, hit the byeline and cut the ball back to an open Adi, who made no mistake in firing high into the Vancouver net. It was now looking to be a massive uphill battle for the Whitecaps. The away goal initially stunned Vancouver and BC Place, but the Whitecaps regrouped and finished the half strongly, with Kwarasey forced to tip an Octavio Rivero header over from under his bar, a minute before the break. Vancouver tried to take the game to Portland at the start of the second and had a couple of penalty shouts that were given no time by referee Elfath. The Timbers were looking comfortable and the 'Caps seemed to have nothing left to throw at them. David Ousted had to act quickly to keep out a Portland free kick that came through a mass of players untouched with ten minutes remaining. Vancouver weren't looking like getting one goal, never mind the two they needed, but as they pushed for any kind of consolation, Portland hit a second four minutes into stoppage time, when Chara buried an Adi layoff. 2-0 Portland and a trip to Dallas for their second Western Conference Championship game in two years now awaits the Timbers. Vancouver now have time to rest, reflect on what was a fairly successful year, regroup and fill that massive need that still remains in the goalscoring department. It's been a great year taken as a whole, but a horrible ending. Focus on the former will certainly come, but right now, it's hard to shake the latter. With the right additions and changes though, 2016 could be even better. But the bar is now set very high. Hopefully the 'Caps can still reach and get over it. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 - 0 Portland Timbers ATT: 27,837 VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour (Robert Earnshaw 82), Tim Parker, Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Gershon Koffie (Darren Mattocks 63), Cristian Techera, Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh (Mauro Rosales 26); Octavio Rivero [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Smith, Christian Dean, Russell Teibert] PORTLAND: Adam Kwarasey; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana (Norberto Paparatto 67); Diego Valeri (Jack Jewsbury 84), Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe; Dairon Asprilla, Fanendo Adi, Rodney Wallace (Lucas Melano 80) [subs Not Used: Jake Gleeson, Will Johnson, Taylor Peay, Maximiliano Urruti] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON Thoughts on the match changing when Kekuta Manneh came off: “Well, first of all I want to congratulate Portland, a credit to them for winning the game today, winning the two leg series. So, congratulations to them. It changed, dramatically. I think the kid started like a house on fire and put us in the ascendency with playing front football, and hit the two and have one or two half chances, then it changes. But when it’s not your day, it’s not your day and today, it wasn’t our day. We didn’t score a goal over two legs. When you don’t score a goal over two legs, unless you’re lucky and go to penalties and win, you’re not going to win a game of football, and that’s what happened.” On what the team needs to get that early decisive goal in games: “That’s a million dollar question. I think the reason strikers are paid so much money in this game is because they are able to put the ball into the back of the net and we haven’t been able to do that. Not just tonight, but for a number of games this year. That’s something I’ll have to go back to the drawing board with my staff in the offseason, and try and bring some more goals, because it’s ultimately cost us a little bit, especially tonight, and that’s something you have to take on the chin.” On whether he thinks he waited too long to make an offensive substitution: “No, because I made it at 58 minutes or so. I wanted to get a reaction out of the boys. I think they played very well in the first half. The game’s fine lines. Adi scores a good goal, probably we’re not set up properly off a throw in and pull back, he scores. You know, we had a chance last Sunday with Rivero on his left foot, but we don’t hit the target, he scores. In hindsight, you can say that a minute after he scored, maybe I should have changed it. But no, we give it a little bit. We changed the formation twice to try and get back into it. I think we could have been there another 90 minutes and not scored, it’s one of them.” On if not getting the away goal in Portland was key to the match: “I’ll never know, I suppose. As I said, they are disappointed today, disappointed for the guys in there, but really proud of them. They should come away from this season, we’ve achieved a lot of things at this football club and they should be proud of themselves. Disappointed, yes, we’ve missed an opportunity, a missed opportunity for us this year. But, we’re a young group of players and we’ll learn from it. As I said to you when I first walked in here, credit to Portland. They’re a good team.” On what the positives were this season: “I’m proud of them because they’ve achieved a number of firsts this year. The game is about proving people wrong and I’ve said that to you all along. If you don’t score a goal, you’ve got to continue to work hard to create chances to score goals. If you concede three goals, you’ve got to get back to basic defending probably. There’s a lot of positives, as I’ve said, they’re disappointed today because the fans out there were fantastic. What an atmosphere. I’m disappointed we couldn’t win the game for them. But that gives us a little taste and a sample of what we can do if we continue to build and continue to get positive results, because they supported us right until the 95th minute, which was great and I thank them for that.” KENDALL WASTON On a tough way to end the season: “We were expecting here at home [to] win the game. We’re disappointed because we worked very hard during all the season to get to the final, looking to make a lot of history here at the club. But I’m very proud of my teammates because even when we were down we were trying to look how we could have scored, but it’s hard because Portland is a very good team and they deserved to win.” On starting with energy before Kekuta Manneh went out injured: “This is about scoring. We couldn’t score, Portland got their opportunity and everything shut off there. But it’s very hard not to talk because you feel a little disappointed and sad, so I’m sorry.” On not scoring a goal: “Very hard because we were looking corner kicks, free kicks, all over the place how to score and we didn’t get the opportunity clearly to score. But the other team played very good and they tried to defend very well.” On disappointment of team not playing their best match: “Yes, a lot. Everybody tried their 100 per cent. But now we just have to congratulate Portland for the win, and now we’re just looking forward for the next year trying to reach this place and trying to get to the finals.” DAVID OUSTED Thoughts on the match: “Right now I’m very disappointed. Over 180 minutes we weren’t good enough. I’m proud of where we are and where we came to with this group, the growth we’ve shown throughout the year, but it’s a step short of where I wanted to go.” On having an early chance to get the go-ahead goal: “Obviously, we hit the post and Adam got it outside with, I think it was his neck. And obviously if that goes in it’s a different game. But like I say, all-in-all we don’t want to stand here and make excuses. Over 180 minutes I think Portland were the better team.” On the atmosphere: “We’ve had fantastic fans the whole year, and this is what we want as an organization, we want 27,000 here every time. We want at one point being able to open up this whole stadium. This is a step in the right direction, but like I say it’s a step short of where we wanted to go.” MAURO ROSALES On the performance v Portland: "We didn't perform as good as we played the last couple of games. It was a crucial game for us. This kind of game you have to step up with a different mentality, with a different approach to the games. Do your 110 percent every time. We had a good run during the season. When we should perform at higher levels, we didn't. Disappointed but proud of the team for how hard they've worked during the year." On the Whitecaps season: "I'm proud of the team. A lot of positive things, a lot of positive players coming up, doing a very good job. High levels all season for many of our players. We just wait for next year now." PORTLAND TIMBERS CALEB PORTER Thoughts on the win: “I think we managed both legs really well. We didn’t give up the away goal which led into this game. We knew they would want to come out, and yet we wanted to be aggressive as well. We went for the first goal, and we got it. It was something we worked on, in terms of getting in that left channel. It was a great goal. Then that meant now that we could manage the game with the ball, which we did second half. You saw the possession that we had and we were able to keep them from attacking by doing that, and keep them from playing the transition they like to play by slowing the tempo down with the ball. We were very patient and organized and they had a hard time breaking us down and then we found the counterattack, which I knew would be on as they tried to push because they needed two goals after we found the first one. So I thought it was very well managed overall.” On Norberto Paparatto having to sub in for injured Jorge Villafana: “They needed two goals, so they started just throwing numbers forward and putting guys in up top so it made sense to put Paparatto in and push Liam over to left back, he can sit in and we can play almost with three central defenders. So it made sense at that stage in the game. And then when they made their last move putting Earnshaw in, then we went to two holding mids, just to kind of give us an extra number defensively. But listen, it’s the players, it’s nothing to do with my moves or things I do. It’s them playing inside the lines. This team, they play for each other, they’re very hungry, and the last six games we’re unbeaten. The last six games we’ve been in playoff mode, we’ve been in massive pressure. For this group to play the football they’re playing, under massive pressure, is a really good sign. Four teams left, and three games to go, and we have two teams in our way.” On two weeks before the next match: “We need to recharge and recover from this game, we have time to do that. And then we need to get back to training, and keep getting better. I think we’re still scratching the surface of the level this team can play at. Today we did some things we haven’t done all year. So that’s exciting, because I think we can still, in the next couple of weeks, go to another level. " On facing FC Dallas: “Very good team, but we’ve been playing good teams late in the year. Like I said, we’ve been in playoff mode. I think that’s helped us. I think our experience in the playoffs helped us in this series. We’ve already won a playoff series versus Seattle [in] 2013. I think this is now our fourth win in the playoffs. The maturity we showed today, the professionalism we showed in managing this leg, and both legs, I thought was visible. Obviously Dallas is a good team, but we’ve been beating good teams. I know these guys will be up for it.” FANENDO ADI On his match-winning goal: “That was just something we practice at training. When I saw Diego [Valeri] on the ball, I knew he was going to cut it back. We talked about getting [Kendall] Waston out of the box and he followed the ball. I knew he was going to cut it back and I just stayed in position. The ball came and I hit it well.” On the Timbers attack clicking tonight: “It’s massive. It’s just understanding. We’ve trained and played a lot with these guys. You understand their movement and your movement as well. It’s just an understanding and it worked very well for us today.” On Diego Chara’s late goal: “That was a massive goal. It’s almost the same goal he got against, I think, FC Dallas. He won the ball and I was in position so he gave it to me. I just let [Kendall] Waston get to my side again and give the ball back to him and he did a great job finishing well.” On playing against Kendall Waston: “It’s always a good battle going up against such a good player. He’s big and he challenges you to be very focused to challenge balls against him. It was a great battle. I’m glad we came out victorious.” DIEGO CHARA On tonight’s win: “Our mentality tonight was to win. We tried to keep the ball and manage the tempo. We were effective with our chances. These were the real key for us.” On his late goal: “My role is to defend but sometimes I find space to attack, and tonight I did.” On facing FC Dallas: “FC Dallas are a good team. They have good players. The first leg will be at home and we need to win that.” On Fanendo Adi’s goal: “We’re confident in him because he can score. It was a great moment for him.” LIAM RIDGEWELL On tonight’s win: “Last time we were here, it was disappointing. They scored in the very last minute. It was very satisfying tonight. The boys played fantastic. I thought we deserved to win. I’m looking forward to the next game.” On Robert Earnshaw’s performance: “He tried his luck. Rob has always done that back home and since coming over here. I think we did well tonight as a team defensively. They couldn’t break us down. As soon as we got the first goal, we knew they had to get two. [Diego] Chara put the icing on the cake. It was fantastic.” On the team’s celebration after Diego Chara’s goal: “It was fantastic. The goal at the end certainly put the nail in the coffin. Everyone celebrating together was fantastic. That’s what we’ve been about over the last two and half months. Riding the wave, everyone together. We’re looking to do that next game.”
  21. 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. 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!
  23. REPORT: Delicately poised. That's perhaps the best phrase to sum up the current standing of the all-Cascadian Western Conference semi-final between Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers. There were no goals at Providence Park on Sunday but both teams had their chances. The 'Caps could have been two up at half-time. The Timbers could have had it all square at 2-2 by full time. Those away goals would have set Vancouver up nicely. Instead it's goalless and all to play for next Sunday at BC Place. Carl Robinson went with an unchanged Vancouver line-up from the team that secured their first round bye in last week's 3-0 win over Houston. Portland served up a shock, with Thursday's shoot-out hero, goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, missing out through a late injury. Diego Chara also sat out for Caleb Porter's side. It was a frenetic opening spell, with both teams piling forward in attacks. Portland had the best of the early chances when Tim Parker failed to deal with a low cross in from the left but Lucas Melano shot weakly at David Ousted in the 7th minute, when he should have done better. Vancouver's best chance came eight minutes before the half, when a quick break from Gershon Koffie ended with a Kekuta Manneh cross into the box but Octavio Rivero rushed at his shot, when he had time, and blasted wildly over. Inbetween those chances there hadn't really been any goalmouth action in what had been a fast paced half. The 'Caps had another excellent opportunity to open the scoring moments later but Koffie squandered the good build up play. It surprisingly took until the 44th minute for the first yellow card to come, but then with two in a minute, one for each side, the fear was that the floodgates were now open in that aspect. Whatever Caleb Porter said to Portland at the half, it worked and they came out all guns blazing and with their tails up to start the second half, launching wave after wave of attacks. The Whitecaps defence was certainly bending, but not breaking and Kendall Waston did well to scramble the ball away in the 54th minute, after Fanendo Adi had been played in but Ousted was out quick to knock the ball clear. Manneh forced an easy save at the near post in the 71st minute, after a build up that felt like it had 100 passes. Portland responded with Diego Valeri forcing a stunning one hand save from Ousted from a free kick, 25 yards out. With the Timbers continuing to push on a slick pitch, the 'Caps survived some scrambles in their box, as they struggled to get out from being penned in deep. The game became end to end and Ousted had to get down to a low Urruti shot late on, but it was a fairly easy save for the Dane. Urruti came within inches of grabbing a late winner for the Timbers in the last minute, when he was slipped in but could only look on in agony as he crashed his shot off the right hand post. A close call and a lucky escape for Vancouver. Referee Allen Chapman showed balls of steel to blow for full time after the Timbers had won a corner, but it kept the game all square. Probably a fair result and setting up what has the potential to be a truly epic battle in Vancouver next Sunday. FINAL SCORE: Portland Timbers 0 - 0 Vancouver Whitecaps ATT: 21,144 PORTLAND: Jake Gleeson; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana; Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri; Rodney Wallace, Lucas Melano (Dairon Asprilla 61), Fanendo Adi (Maxi Urruti 71) [subs Not Used: Andrew Weber, Taylor Peay, Norberto Paparatto, Will Johnson, George Fochive] VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Tim Parker, Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, Cristian Techera, Gershon Koffie (Mauro Rosales 63), Kekuta Manneh (Pedro Morales 77); Octavio Rivero (Darren Mattocks 88) [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Smith, Christian Dean, Deybi Flores] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On if he was nervous in the match and if he’s happy with the draw: “That’s not nervous compared to Thursday night where I sat in the stands watching Portland and [sporting] Kansas City. That was very calm. We came into the game with a game plan. We knew what we wanted to do. I think we executed it perfectly. In the first half I thought we were very, very good up until the final third. We missed our chances. I think we should have been ahead in the first half. In the second half, as expected, they’re going to change slightly. They came out and were probably the more aggressive team. Obviously we rode our luck in the last minute, but I think we deserve it.” On if he’s disappointed in not getting a goal on the road: “Of course. Everyone wants [a goal]. I’m sure they want a home goal as well. The mindset now changes to next week’s game at BC Place and they are important away goals, we know that, but we had two great chances in the first half and we didn’t take them. Nothing you can do. You have to get back to work.” On if either team has an advantage heading into the next game: “I just think it’s just one game of football. It’s come down to final ends again. We talked about final ends today in the game whether we went ahead in the first half then they [get] it at the end. It’s which players perform on the day. [These are] two good teams. I said in that in the build up to the game. I’ll rely on my players turning out and Caleb will rely on his players turning up. It should be an exciting game.” On if his game plan will be affected if Portland scores first at BC Place: “No. We just have to win the game. If we win the game of football at home in our backyard then we are through. If they get an away goal then they know they have the slight advantage there but we will rest up and be ready for next week as well.” On goalkeeper David Ousted’s performance: “He’s been brilliant. He’s been brilliant all season for me. Obviously, he’s taken over the captaincy since Pedro [Morales] has been out the team. I remember him making a great save from Diego Valeri. Super free kick and obviously he gets a bit of luck at the end. Sometimes you need luck in this game as we all know.” On if Pedro Morales can be expected to play next Sunday: “Certainly hope so. You see the quality he has when he comes on. Mauro Rosales as well. We’ve missed these players. You want your good players in your team. The guys who have been playing have done fantastically well for us. It’ll set up nicely, give them a week of full training and I’m sure he’ll be ready to go.” On if midfielder Kekuta Manneh could have done better today: “No. I think he worked his socks off for the team. With all attacking players I’m sure they’re always judged by the journalists by goals and assists but as a coach you see the outside work that they do. He put a great shift in. He had one or two chances to do better in the final third which I’m sure he’ll admit but if it doesn’t come off for you in the attacking third you have to put a shift in or you don’t play.” On defender Kendall Waston’s performance: “Again, I think the word is monster again. Him and Tim Parker had their hands full, we know that. [Timbers forward] Maxi [urruti] comes on with his little movements and things like that. The back six of the team were fantastic today. As I said, you get your reward in this game if you put the work in and we certainly put a lot of work in today. We got our award in the first leg but we’re at halftime. There’s a lot to play for and it should set up nicely for next week.” On if midfielder Gershon Koffie is a number 10 player: “No he’s not but you change formations as managers and you try and get other players on the field because you want your players to perform. He has done a great job for me today in that role. Is it his ideal role? No and he’ll be the first to admit that but it’s not about individuals, it’s about the team and getting a result like this today.” On his decision to put midfielder Pedro Morales in the game: “It’s important he gets some football and gets some minutes in a competitive match under his belt. We’re thinking about playing him next week and bringing him off the bench was an option for me. Had to do it because I think Portland had the upper hand at that time and the game was starting to open up a little bit and I thought maybe we could execute our final passes. He brought calmness to our play which he does because he’s a top player.” On Portland’s shot that hit the post: “Sometimes it’s out of your hands. You just hope it’s not down to a mistake or a bad decision or things like that. We’ll take the post.” KENDALL WASTON On the overall match: “It was a hard match because this is a final and nobody wants to give anything. First half I think that we had some opportunities that we could have scored but this is soccer, just like them in the second half they made some good stops. I think now everything leads us to the second match that I think it’s going to be harder.” On if he was relieved when the shot went off the post in the 89th minute: “For sure. Nobody wants to let their team score. All those things count and I think today we had a good performance. We want to do things correctly and Portland was at home with their crowd and I think they had a great game as well.” On goalkeeper David Ousted’s performance: “Awesome. I think he’s the best goalkeeper in MLS. Every game he stands there and tries to get a clean sheet and today he helped us a lot.” On if he’s disappointed with not scoring on the road: “Disappointing is when you play and you don’t try your best. I think today we tried our best. Octavio [Rivero] and our other forwards were trying to score. Nobody wanted to kick the ball outside. The main thing is that we have team spirit, we have faith that the team is going to compete and hopefully next game we can win at home.” On having midfielder Pedro Morales return tonight: “[it was] great because we know that Pedro helps us a lot. He was working hard in his recovery and now everyone I think is available. It’s going to be a great battle during the week to see who is going to be the 11 starters.” PEDRO MORALES On making his return to the field: “I feel very happy. I have been waiting for this moment for maybe two months and not playing too much. Today I played 50 minutes and I feel OK. It’s a great result to come back home at BC Place. We have a big chance in the house now. [We] just [need to] keep the same work in the week and just prepare for the big game next week.” On if playing today sets him up to play at least a half next Sunday: “I don’t know. I’ll try yes. I need to train good this week and then it just depends on where you fit the team. I just need to work.” On if he felt any pain out there: “No. This is the reason I played. I don’t feel pain now. It’s the reason I’m very happy to come back and play. Now I’ve been working my way back for the team and just next week is a big game.” On the key to getting a goal next week: “Play hard. Take the ball. They have very good players and it’s a big, big game. [it] may be the last game for us or for Portland. You need to compete 100 percent. Now it’s a great opportunity to score and take a goal [at home]” On goalkeeper David Ousted’s performance: “[it was] very good. I think this year David’s had a good season for the team. For us, he’s a very good player. I think the best in the MLS. Just keep the same work now and wait for this game.” On if he thought his season was over after the last injury: “The last injury I thought maybe San Jose [would be] my last game this year but the team, the staff just gave me so much support. Now I feel OK, just keeping the same work every day and just wait for the last game now.” On who has the advantage going into the second game: “Maybe [us]. We need the support at BC Place. [There might be] maybe more than 25,000 people [at the stadium]. It’s very important for us. We’re very excited for this game and now we have a big chance for a win for the city, as a family for the club.” DAVID OUSTED On if one team has an advantage going into the next game: “Hopefully we have the advantage of being home at BC Place. Hopefully we go home now and make sure that we get that goal to lure them out a little bit.” On if there’s more pressure knowing they’ll need to score two goals if Portland gets one: “There’s pressure all the time. There’s pressure as well of keeping a clean sheet and keeping them off the scoreboard. I don’t think more than usual. We’ll assess that game and go in and try and win it.” On what he saw in Diego Valeri’s free kick: “I saw it pretty clear. I saw when it was going past the wall and I’ve seen him a few times. He likes that corner and is fantastic at putting it there so I needed a little bit extra to get there.” On how his team performed tonight: “I thought we did well. I thought it was a professional showing of what we needed to do, be defensively sound and make sure they didn’t get that goal so we needed to chase. I thought we did well. Obviously we would have loved to get that away goal but it wasn’t to be today. Now we go back to BC Place and try and win it.” On knowing that Portland wouldn’t show their exhaustion from a long match on Thursday: “We knew that coming in here was going to be tough. We knew that their crowd was going to give them that little bit of extra. [Did they have] tired legs? Yes, maybe a little bit but they were going on adrenaline and their crowd .We knew it was going to be tough and I’m delighted with the result we take away from here.” On defender Kendall Waston’s performance: “Kendall showed what he has been showing all year, that he’s so strong in the air. He does very well defensively. With the other three guys in the back four there, they’re very solid. Kendall has been showing it all year and we need him to keep showing it in this playoff run here.” PORTLAND TIMBERS CALEB PORTER On his team’s performance today: “I thought their effort was outstanding. We played a game on Thursday, 120 minutes, to go through what we went through physically and emotionally and to turn around and play like we played today, put ourselves in a position to win the game. We got a couple chances, those didn’t fall, but we were outstanding defensively. Obviously we were the team that was on the ball more. I'm real proud of the guys for that. In saying that, Vancouver they showed tonight why they were the best defensive team in the league. Their goalkeeper Ousted was outstanding, [Kendall] Waston’s a beast and they are a good team. So I thought even though there wasn’t a goal, if you know the game, it was a really good game to watch. It puts us in a good spot. Obviously not as good as if we would have won 1-0, but they didn’t get the away goal. So if we score one goal, they have to score two. If we score two goals, they have to score three. It will make for a very interesting second leg. We’ve won seven games on the road and we’ve been very hot on the road recently and we’ve scored goals on the road. It puts us in a good position to go and play for the win.” On Jake Gleeson’s performance: “I thought he was great today. We want that out of our young players when they get the opportunity to be able to step in. We’ve had several in that position this year and they’ve all done a really good job. He didn’t have a ton to do, but what he did have to manage I think he looked very comfy.” On if the pressure is back on Vancouver: “It was a defensive battle. We knew it would be. Usually the first legs are tight because they always set up the next game, but you saw they went for attacking subs at the end. I think the reason is they wanted that away goal. They didn’t get it. Unfortunately we didn’t find the goal either, but now that we go on the road knowing that we are a good road team and knowing we just have to win the game. We can even draw as long as we score a goal.” On moving Darlington Nagbe deeper in the second half: “Second half we wanted to get more possession and I think we did that. I think it helped us control the game better. The reason was getting him on the ball, bringing him deep to help build attacks. I haven’t seen his numbers today but I bet they are pretty high in terms of his pass completions. Overall we didn’t find the goal but we certainly were the team that controlled the majority of the play. They were dangerous on the counter a couple of times, but other than set pieces and counters they didn’t have much. I thought again it was two very good defensive teams and that showed today. So I’m not surprised that I was 0-0. I actually thought it would be 1-0, either way. I thought there was a goal in there and I thought it was going to be us. You saw at the end of the game we were pushing. I looked like we would find it Maxi had the chance. A bit unfortunate, but maybe it evened things out from Thursday with the post hurting us instead of helping us this game.” On the importance of depth and performance from players off the bench: “Really important. Hopefully we are in the playoffs all the way to the end because we had to play the extra game yellow card suspensions could play in. So we need those guys. Rodney’s [Wallace] on one, [Diego] Valeri’s on one, Ridgy’s [Liam Ridgewell] is on one and [George] Fochive, if you get one more than you’ll miss a game. So because of that, obviously, we need guys to be ready, but also you never know with injuries. As you go on in the playoffs you need to go to your bench at times. It’s big that we can put those guys in and they perform. They’ve performed really well now two straight games. We had planned to put those guys in in the second half. I thought they did give us a spark.” On keeping the team in a rhythm even though Chara remains out: “With Jack [Jewsbury] staying in and being in a rhythm I really liked the fact even though the fatigue factor was played up. I liked the fact that we were in a rhythm of playing. In the playoffs, sometimes even though you don’t have a ton of rest it’s better psychologically just to keep playing. I thought our guys looked comfortable. This is our second year in the playoffs and we’ve got three wins and this is Vancouver’s third year and they are still looking for that first win in the playoffs. So I think that experience will hopefully help us.” On how to keep the momentum and mindset going with a bit longer break between games: “I think we need to recharge. It couldn’t come at a better time. We knew obviously that it’s a two-leg series and we need to put ourselves in a position where we can have a week off – a week to prep, a week to recharge and go into the game fresh. I was surprised how fresh we looked, to be honest with you. I didn’t think it would be a big factor but it really didn’t look like it was a factor at all in the game. I was really pleased, I can’t ask for anything more out of the guys. Like I said, we put ourselves in position now where we have a week to really look at Vancouver, look at this game, prepare and come out flying. We are going to try to score goals. We are not going to sit back. Obviously we will be smart like we were today. But we play to win and we play to score goals. We are capable of scoring goals and if we score goals, now they have to get one more than us.” On decision to have Alvas Powell play a little bit more reined in: “There were little things that we felt playing 120 minutes Thursday there were some things that we needed to do to kind of manage the game. One of those things was to play a little bit more conservatively with our outside backs. Part of that is Vancouver as well with [Cristian] Techera and [Kekuta] Manneh, we knew they would look to hit us on counters and we didn’t want to get into a track meet in the game. This is one of the few times where that wouldn’t benefit us because obviously we had a lot of miles on the legs. So we played with Alvas [Powell] and Jorge [Villafaña] a little bit more conservatively to help manage the counter attack with their two wingers, but also to manage their legs. The other thing we did is stayed a little bit more compact, didn’t press as much. We wanted to keep our shape and we also talked about having possession just to control the tempo and in some ways, slow the game down a little bit." JAKE GLEESEON On when he knew he was going to start: “I got a text this morning from Adin [brown} just saying Adam [Kwarasey] isn’t feeling the best, so just be ready. As a backup, you always have to be ready, you don’t know when you’re going to go in. Just look at [Jon] Kempin the other night. So when I was walking in, Adam gave me a call and said ‘I’m heading home. I’m not feeling well.’ He was really sick. That’s when I really, officially found out I was playing, so it was a pretty exciting morning.” On comparing playing in the postseason with his start in Portland’s first MLS home game in 2011: “Obviously the first home game was a few years ago now, so it’s been a few years since I’ve been back out there. Once you’ve played at that level and go back, it’s like picking up where you left off. The chanting, the sounds, the stadium and all, are very familiar to me. I’ve been here so long. So it’s just like in any other game. You just go out there, keep your head down, but obviously a great experience to be back out there.” On hearing the reaction of the Timbers Army when he came out to warm up: “They give you a boost for sure. It’s like playing with an extra man or 21,000 extra men. They definitely give you that extra boost you need to get out there and do what you need to do. I’m a very calm person out there, so I don’t let it get to me too much. I like to stay focused, but it’s good. I like playing in front of them.” JACK JEWSBURY General thoughts on the match: “Kind of like we thought it would be, to be honest. We knew it was going to be tight. We knew they’re a great defensive team. We knew we weren’t going to get a ton of looks, but we got enough to get a goal. I thought the one of Maxi’s was in and I already started running down the left side to celebrate with him. So unfortunate that that one didn’t go in. We set ourselves up with a good opportunity now to move on. We’ve been a team that, on the road, has been very good. So we’re confident about next weekend.” On Jake Gleeson’s performance: “Jake’s a guy that got a ton of games with T2 and that’s what that’s all about. Getting reps for goalkeepers and backups that keeps them fresh. We’ve seen in training the last couple months that he’s been with us that he’s an exceptional young goalkeeper. We weren’t nervous at all about him stepping in. He did a great job tonight.” On if he was tired following the extra time and penalties against Sporting Kansas City: “For me to say not at all would probably be a lie. There were definitely moments where you have to catch that second wind, but the reality is at this time of year, it’s the playoffs. So everything gets thrown out the window in terms of being tired. We had two days off almost where we could regroup and get our bodies back to normal. It wasn’t that much different from a midweek hard training that we’d have on Wednesday. Obviously not 120 minutes long and the emotions that were in the Kansas City game, but overall I thought we looked very fresh. Sometimes that can be at your benefit when you’re on a good run like we are with four wins. We’re just looking forward to a few days off here. Relax a little bit and then get back to work for next Sunday.” On the importance of keeping a clean sheet with the away goals rule in play: “Obviously it’s important when road goals come into play. We thought late in the game that we could continue to push. They were going to be OK with a tie, but I think, even with some of their substitutions, you could tell that they were still trying to push for that road goal.” DIEGO VALERI General thoughts on the match: “We are happy with the performance but obviously not happy with the result. We deserved more, but it is what it is. We had some chances in the second half to score and we didn’t. But we’re in a good position. I think we were the better team on the field today, even if we played 120 minutes on Thursday. I’m happy with the performance. I think the team played really well.” On keeping a clean sheet and the away goal advantage heading to Vancouver: “It’s always very important because in this style of tournament, the clean sheet is very important. It’s good. Now we’re in a good position to score a goal there and force them to score two goals.” On the benefit of a full week of rest ahead of the second leg: “It’s good. It’s good because we have couple guys with some knocks, some problems. We need to rest. Tomorrow is a day off, so we will rest. It’s good. We have to watch the game to see what we need to fix and keep working.” On Jake Gleeson’s performance: “Amazing. I think he looked very mature. He’s a great ‘keeper and I’m very happy for him.” On the difficulty breaking down Vancouver: “I think because they defend with a lot of people, they put a lot of numbers behind the ball. I think we controlled the game. It was good because we were patient and we found some chances, very clear chances to score. We were a little bit unlucky. I had the free kick, Maxi’s chance and a couple more. I liked the way we played.”
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  25. REPORT (by Steve Pandher): Vancouver Whitecaps avoided backsliding into the playoffs, defeating Houston Dynamo 3-0 in front of a sold out BC Place. Second half goals by Kekuta Manneh, Kendall Waston and Robert Earnshaw proved to be the difference, while David Ousted picked up his club equalling 13th cleansheet of the season. There certainly wasn’t a lack of chances for Vancouver in the first 15 minutes and they came inches away from taking the early lead. Cristian Techera stole the ball from keeper Joe Willis three minutes in, then crossed it to Octavio Rivero who looked to have an open net but his header was fantastically finger-tipped away by Willis. Techera had his own chance to score soon after, finding himself free at the top of box and firing a strike that beat the keeper only to hit the bar and stay out. With ten minutes to go in the opening half, the Dynamo started to control the play and had their best chance come off the foot of Giles Barnes, with a low drive that forced David Ousted into a diving save to keep the game scoreless going into the half. The first 13 minutes after the break lacked any real chances by either team but in the 59th minute Kekuta Manneh finally got the breakthrough to put the Caps ahead. It was Koffie, after receiving a pass from Laba, who squared the ball to Manneh and after a touch beat Willis from 25 yards out. The home side would double their lead in the 72nd minute when Kendall Waston connected on a Techera corner. The big defender beat two Dynamo players to the ball inside the six yard area heading the ball to the far post. A third goal would be added to the final score with Robert Earnshaw finding the net within seconds of coming on, giving the second half sub his second of the season. The timing of the victory couldn’t have come at a better time, ending the club’s five game winless streak and giving them some momentum heading into the playoffs. The Caps have also clinched the second spot in the Western Conference which gives them a bye into the Conference semi-finals next Sunday, starting on the road in either LA, Portland or Seattle. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 - 0 Houston Dynamo ATT: 21,000 VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steve Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matías Laba, Russell Teibert; Cristian Techera (Mauro Rosales 74), Gershon Koffie, Kekuta Manneh (Jordan Smith 85); Octavio Rivero (Robert Earnshaw 90+2) [substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Christian Dean, Deybi Flores, Nicolas Mezquida] DALLAS Joe Willis; Sheanon Williams, David Horst, Raul Rodriguez, DaMarcus Beasley; Leonel Miranda (Boniek Garcia 63), Luis Garrido, Ricardo Clark, Giles Barnes (Rob Lovejoy 89); Will Bruin, Erick Torres (Mauro Manotas 61) [substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Alex Lima, Rasheed Olabiyi, Taylor Hunter] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On tonight’s win: “Obviously I’m happy, we got what we deserved. I really believe that if you work hard and do things right, then you get rewarded, and we got our reward today. We won the game versus a very good team with a very good coach and good players. I thought we could score in the first half, but their goalkeeper made really good saves, but we kept working hard and we eventually won the game.” Did he know they were sitting fifth at half time?: “I told the team that we needed to keep the focus on the game because if we don’t win the game, it doesn’t really matter which position we would have been in. We wouldn’t have gotten the position that we occupy now if we didn’t win the game today. I really didn’t want to lose my focus because if I lose my focus and my players lose their focus, we wouldn’t win this game, that’s why I didn’t ask anything at the halftime.” On the decision factor in not playing Nicolas Mezquida: “My medical staff. I’m very lucky here because this club is a fantastic organization, made by fantastic people, with fantastic supporters. I keep talking about the players every week. Sometimes people say I put too much pressure on them and I really do, this is my job, but today it’s all about the people that make this club great. I mean every single person associated with the club. The medical staff told me it could have been a risk (to play Mezquida), so I made this decision.” On having a young club: “We have lot of young players, we are the youngest team in MLS. People sometimes don’t believe you can actually build a team with young players and be successful but I firmly did and the club did a fantastic job backing me on that. The players bought into it from day one and we produced two years of very good football.” On the turnaround after the past month’s results: "Everyone makes mistake, we are humans, but we always try to rectify those mistakes. So today we want to give credit to the guys and talk about them, not about me, because we reached a fantastic goal." On making the playoffs: “It’s a great achievement, I’m really proud of the guys and of the club. I firmly believe we recruited a good group of players and we could do something big. We are in the playoffs for the second year in a row, and for the third time in the club’s history. We will try to win it. There will be eight teams that will try to win, we just want to see how far we can go.” On the energy in the second half: “The energy that the players put in the second half was great and we need to give credit to them. I just gave a small talk before the second half, I just told them we need to play with more tempo because after the first 15 to 20 minutes, I wasn’t really happy.” On the team’s overall health: “Hopefully, I can get a couple of players fit and healthy. As a manager, they criticize everything you do, and I’m aware of that. I brought 14 players to Honduras, Russell Teibert played 90 minutes in the Champions League match and played 90 minutes today as well. We will be ready for the playoffs and we will see how far we can go.” On Pedro Morales’ injury status: “Ask him, he will tell you. We will do some test in the next days and we will see, but he’s desperate to play and to be involved in the games.” On the second-place finish in the Western Conference: “I thing we deserved, during the course of the season, to get where we are. After 34 games, the league doesn’t lie, so I think we deserved to be where we are today.” On any playoff superstitions: “I’m not really superstitious, I keep a picture of my father in my pocket and no more. No superstition in football.” KENDALL WASTON On scoring in the regular season finale again: “This one feels great because we knew that today we needed to win and just wait for the other results. The most important thing was only to believe in us. We thought that it didn’t matter if we scored in the first minute or the last minute, we just needed to win it today.” On what was said at halftime: “Continue to be patient, have the ball, and play simple. They didn’t have any pressure today, and we know that we needed to win anyhow, but we have to defend properly. So that was the focus in the second half, and be more patient and the goals will come.” On his emotions after scoring the goal: “I was relieved. First half, I had like two chances I think, but the third one came in so hopefully now a lot of them will come to me in the playoffs.” On set pieces in the playoffs: “Set pieces, they are very important because the games are so close, especially in the playoffs. Set pieces are going to be an important thing for us and for any team.” On winning Whitecaps FC Player of the Year: “We have a lot of great teammates, like Matias Laba, Pedro Morales, David Ousted – he had a good season. When the fans vote, I’m very happy.” On getting a Knockout Round bye: “It’s good because we close at home and now we make history for the club and it’s always good to make new things for the club.” KEKUTA MANNEH On what was said at halftime: “Nothing really. We didn’t have to talk much in the locker room. We did all the talking throughout the year. It’s about what we do on the field, we do all the talking on the field. We finally took our chances, we’ve created a lot of chances throughout the year. We knew it was going to come one of these days, and today was the game it came.” On scoring after missing chances during the season: “Like I said, it’s a work in progress. We work at it all week in training and it finally paid off. There’s games where we’ve had chances and we didn’t take them. We were very unfortunate, and today things went our way.” On his goal taking the team from fifth place to second place in the Western Conference: “We didn’t even realize it, but when I came off everyone was excited. It’s great that we’re second and we don’t have to play on Thursday and we can have more energy for the Sunday game.” On confidence from scoring: “It’s great, it was great for me to score that goal. It lifted the team up and opened up the game. We were fortunate to have two more goals. It was great for my confidence as well going into the playoffs. I told the media earlier, it would be great if we can have at least two different people score.” HOUSTON DYNAMO OWEN COYLE: On the loss to Whitecaps: “Credit to Vancouver. You saw the atmosphere there, that’s the atmosphere that we’re looking to have next year in Houston. They have a terrific young coach and a very good team. Good luck to them.” On what Houston Dynamo need to improve on: “Ultimately, goals change games, we know that. If we had gotten a goal up, of course, it changes the game. I’ve said this consistently – when you have bloodied noses, that’s when you have to stand up and look to try to get back in the game. We didn’t do that well enough. We got away from that. We’ve looked at ourselves extensively over the course of the season, we need to get better, it’s as simple as that. We certainly know how to do that and what we need to do to implement those changes. That’s what we need to do. Our aspirations are to be in the playoffs, as Vancouver will be now as they try to win the MLS Cup. The technical staff knows what we have to do and we’ll make those changes.” On Ricardo Clark’s performance: “Ricardo has been out the last two or three days, he missed training yesterday. We know what we have in him. He did well but the bottom line is it’s not about who does well individually. It’s about a collective effort and that’s what we strive for, to get better collectively.” On the Whitecaps attack: “Whitecaps FC started the season really well. When you pick up injuries to your key players, it can affect your team. What they have is a real pace on the counter attack in transition with Kekuta Manneh and Cristian Techera, and Octavio Rivero can move as well. All credit to them, they’ve got quite an exciting team. They’ll feel confident, they have good players and a good team. ” GILES BARNES On the end of the Houston Dynamo season: “It’s obviously disappointing. It’s been a roller coaster season. We’ve had high highs and we’ve had low lows. It’s been a learning experience. We have a lot of young players and new players. We have to come back swinging next year. We’ve had hard times with international duties, injuries, and suspensions that we’ve had to deal with at key times. At the end of the day, we didn’t make the playoffs. We have to correct that.” On what Houston Dynamo need to improve on: “Maybe we need to take a little bit of softness out of us when we go a goal down. I’d like to see us come out swinging a little bit more. The young players that have come in this year have done really well. The club has a lot to look forward to in the future.” On Erick Torres’ season: “He’s a good player. Unfortunately, he came a little later than everyone expected. There’s a settling in period that you’re always going to have when you go into a new club. He’ll come in raring to go. He’s a great kid. He works hard and he’s a very likeable guy as well. He’ll be looking forward to getting his feet under the table in preseason and go from there.” On Whitecaps’ strength going into the playoffs: “They have youth so they always have bundles of energy. They like to play football, they’re a really good counter-attacking team. Carl Robinson has them well-rehearsed.” WILL BRUIN On tonight’s loss: “Outside the first 10 to 15 minutes when they had some chances and Joe Willis made some big saves, we settled in to the game. We connected passes and I thought we played well. It’s just a case of once they scored the first goal, we just put our heads down. You can say it’s the last game of the year and we’re not in the playoffs. We can just bend over but we have to respond better than that, no matter what the circumstances are.” On Houston Dynamo bouncing back next season: “If you told me at the beginning of the year that we’ll be sitting here and not be in the playoffs at the end of the year, I would have taken a bet against you. That’s the way MLS goes sometimes. We had guys leave for international duty, and that’s more minutes on their legs and more travel. We had guys with suspensions and injuries. Knock on wood, I’m not sure it can get much worse. It can only go up. We have all the pieces, maybe add a few things here or there, then I think we’re up there. I’ll take us against anybody in the playoffs right now.” On Whitecaps heading into the playoffs: “I’m sure that 3-0 win will give them a little bit of momentum going into the playoffs. It’s always about hitting your stride at the right time. Vancouver is dangerous on counters. You commit a turnover in the middle and they’re gone. They have quick guys wide that can get behind and get crosses in and score goals, and you’ll see things can change like that. Confidence will definitely be high for them after this game going into the playoffs. With the parity in MLS, it’s about who’s feeling good and who’s playing the best.”
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