The Vancouver Whitecaps suffered all the highs and lows that one club can go through over weeks in just their opening game. The Whitecaps came out victors against the Toronto FC but more important than the result was what happened to the squad.
The win itself was a relief as TFC put up a bigger fight than was first predicted. Gershon Koffie scored the winner from a Nigel Reo-Coker cross. At the end of the night TFC fans seemed a bit more optimistic about their club and about the tactics of coach Ryan Nelsen. Whitecaps fans breathed a sigh of relief with the victory and were begrudgingly happy to get the full points.
The victory came at a price as the club lost captain Jay DeMerit for the entire season with a torn achilles. DeMerit, when healthy, was the key to many victories last season. He will be missed and his return to full health with the squad is questioned.
One captain was lost but another captain appeared. Newly signed, former English youth international, Reo-Coker came in at the half and changed the complexion of the game. He dominated the middle of the park and took hold of the game. The Whitecaps will be giving the captain’s armband to someone new and that person has to be Reo-Coker. The only aspect that was disappointing was the short form of Reo-Coker’s name on the back of his uniform. Did the Whitecaps not have enough money to put more letters on the shirt?
Another revelation was Daigo Kobayashi with his ball skills and flair. Reo-Coker will control the middle and Kobayashi will be the spoon that stirs the drink. Goals will come from his imaginative play. Youngster Kekuta Manneh showed why the Whitecaps are so high on him. He might be the fastest winger in the league and will terrorize wing backs for games to come. There was another consistent effort from Young-Pyo Lee. The fullback continued his outstanding play from last season and fans will know that they will get a professional outing every match.
The Whitecaps dominated much the second half but were still lucky to come out with a win. It would have been a disaster if the club came out sharing the points at a packed BC Place. If the club wants to build on last season’s fifth place finish it is these games against the lesser-rans of MLS that they have to clean up. They can’t afford to drop points in games they should win. The mark of a top club is consistency and the ease that they pick up results when they should.
For one game they did but if they play like they did Saturday afternoon against the better clubs, the results will not be there. The loss of DeMerit makes things worse but at least they found their new captain in Reo-Coker. The club might make some moves this week to cover for the loss of their centre-back.
Forgetting about the negatives at least they can take the points put them in the bank and move on but they know they need to play better. It only gets harder from here.
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