Archive for the ‘Major League Soccer’ Category

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VANCOUVER, B.C – It’s been trying times for Vancouver Whitecaps FC as they sit at the bottom of the MLS western conference with 20 points from a 4-10-8 record this season. Winless in their last eight matches across all competitions, Vancouver will try to snap a four-match MLS losing skid when they face the San Jose Earthquakes (9-7-4) at B.C. Place on Saturday night.

Whitecaps FC have been outscored 14-1 in losses to Seattle, Los Angeles FC, Kansas City, and New England. Vancouver looks like a lost team that has no chemistry, confidence, or sense of direction. The simplest passes go a miss, crosses aren’t connecting, and defensive miscues have left goalkeepers Max Crepeau, and Zac MacMath out to dry.

Does the team have the quality within themselves to snap out of the funk they’re in?

“I think we do, I think we do,” Montero told Har Journalist following training. “I’m here everyday with the guys. I know how important it is to build the confidence in training, and then showing that in the games. I know that it’s been a tough time. Especially to create chances, and score goals. I believe that this is the process, and we have to believe. At the end of the day, it’s about winning games. It’s more important to score one goal, it doesn’t matter who.”

Montero has been in and out of the starting lineup. Vancouver’s leading scorer, hasn’t found the form that he showed in 2017, when he scored 13 goals for Whitecaps FC. Montero has scored 6 goals this season, four from the penalty spot.

“Creating chances is step number one,” Montero explained. “When we have opportunities, bury them. We need to win, it doesn’t matter who scores the goals.”

The 31-year-old has played a combined 53 minutes in the last three MLS matches. He has just one attempt on target for a team that’s often starved to create offensive scoring chances.

Despite his reduction in minutes, Montero remains positive, and as focused as ever.

“A technical decision with all the coaching staff,” Montero said of his role from the bench. “All the travelling, and the amount of games we have in one month. I’m here to help, whenever I’m required to. When I’m called into the starting eleven, I will. If I’m sat on the bench, I will support my teammates. I know that we have a long way to go still.”

Far too often we’ve watched Whitecaps FC crumble under adversity. If an early goal is conceded or a decision doesn’t go Vancouver’s way, the kitchen sink falls in. Whitecaps FC are a fragile team, that’s void of confidence.

The Colombian international knows how challenging it has been to build team confidence.

“It can happen,” Montero said. “We have young players. As I said before, I’ve been through many good teams, teams that are playing for relegation, which is a lot of pressure. It doesn’t happen here. I’m telling you, one way or another. We’re going to take the next step, and win a game.”

If you are expecting Whitecaps FC to make a move on the transfer market, don’t hold your breath. Vancouver had some expensive irons in the fire, that fell through. Nothing looks to be imminent now.

Head Coach Marc Dos Santos is prepared to take the criticism now, for the future, and long term development of the club.

“There are decisions that are good to make now, and others that we just have to take the bullets. Be strong knowing that people get upset with results. I have to stick with the plan of improving this club. getting the best players possible into this club. If that means that I have to suffer today. It’s good, I’m made for that. There’s no problem.” Dos Santos said.

The MLS transfer window will remains open until August 8, but Whitecaps FC are firing blanks.

“Closer? Right now, no.” Dos Santos revealed.

If Whitecaps FC are going to right the ship, it will have to come from the squad of players already assembled.

“We are professional soccer players,” Montero said. “We have to pull our heads up. We know that we need to bring all the energy. This game is the most important, we need to win.”

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Sporting Kansas City at B.C. Place on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Photo: Har Journalist.

VANCOUVER, B.C – Whitecaps FC’s winless streak has stretched to seven matches following a 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. An own goal started the barrage before, Felipe Gutierrez, Gerso Fernandes scored for the visitors in front of 18,700 disappointed fans at B.C. Place.

“At this stage right now, we’re a little bit fragile,” Whitecaps FC Coach Marc Dos Santos, said post-match. “We’re in a position that every time the opponent scores, it looks heavy. We need to have a different type of mental toughness and react in a better way. When that happens, it’s hard. I have to apologize to the fans for the first half. That’s where the game happened. It was very sloppy, lack of intensity, lack of willingness mentally, not in the game for a game that’s so important for us.”

Vancouver drops to bottom of the western conference table with 20-points from a 4-9-8 record. Whitecaps FC are the only MLS side with as few as four wins this season. The Caps home record sinks to 3-4-4 with a road trip to Gillette Stadium up next.

“We’re trying everything,” Dos Santos said. “The positive of the game was Theo Bair. It was positive to have him there. It was positive to see what he tried to bring to the team. That’s great, that’s a positive sign. At this point, we’re trying everything to create. We’re trying everything to find the best solution possible.”

Sporting Kansas City improve to 6-7-7 on the campaign with 25-points.

Tim Melia made six saves to earn his sixth win, and fourth clean sheet of the season.

Looking to snap a six match winless streak, Marc Dos Santos deployed an aggressive 3-5-2 formation with Yordy Reyna, and Theo Bair leading the line. The 19-year-old, Bair, made his first MLS start, and did not look out of place generating a few scoring chances.

“Lots of adrenaline,” Bair described his first start. “Felt good, I think that it was unfortunate, not to get the lead but it’s a progress, we have a good group of players, good team and I think that as long as we believe in each other, the season will go well from here.”

Sporting Kansas City opened the scoring in the 24′ minute off a lucky deflection. Felipe Gutierrez found Gerso inside the Vancouver box. Gerso sent a cross in on goal, that bounced off Ali Adnan’s foot, and into the vacated Whitecaps FC net for an own goal.

Vancouver’s leading scorer, Fredy Montero missed the match due to a straight red card he picked up on July 6 against LAFC. Once again, Whitecaps FC struggled to create offence in the final third.

The one-goal advantage for Kansas City felt like a much larger deficit.

“It’s tough,” Doneil Henry said. “The defence has done really well. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s tough, I don’t know. I don’t want to make any excuses for why or what’s going on. But when you’re playing in a team that’s not doing as well as we want to be doing, it’s really easy to point the finger. But as a club, we’re not doing well. I think it’s kind of harsh to just say that the defence as of late has been doing poorly; as a team we’ve been doing poorly, and that needs to change.”

Whitecaps FC had a fantastic opportunity to square the match in the 47′ minute off a free kick. Inbeom sent a curling attempt over the Sporting Kansas City wall. Melia made a wonderful diving save to deny Vancouver a quick second half equalizer.

Vancouver’s brief glimmer of hope was quickly dashed in the 57′ minute when Sporting Kansas City doubled their lead. Gerso found, Felipe Gutierrez breaking into the Vancouver box. The Chilean international, caught Zac MacMath going the wrong way, and scored his eighth goal of the season to give Sporting Kansas City a commanding 2-0 lead.

Coach Peter Vermes squad wasn’t done scoring, as Gerso got in on the action. Second half substitutes, Kristian Nemeth, and Johnny Russell did all the working setting up Gerso in front of goal. MacMath was out position, and Gerso scored his first of the season.

“We know where we want to be and to be there we have to play every game to win, so doesn’t matter if we’re playing at home or away, you got to start the game, pass and try to score it as soon as we can.” Gerso said post-match.

Vancouver followed up a shocking 6-1 performance against LAFC last weekend, with abysmal effort at home. Whitecaps FC lacked creativity on offence, and did not do enough defensively to stop Sporting Kansas City.

To no surprise, supporters boo’d Whitecaps FC off the pitch at full-time.

Whitecaps FC will look to snap a seven match winless streak, in all competitions, when they travel to Foxboro to take on the New England Revolution on Wednesday, July 17.

“We just need to take it game by game,” Bair explained. “New England is a good opponent but I think that as long as we get together, get our heads straight, we can beat them.”

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Starting XI: Zac MacMath; Andy Rose, Doneil Henry, Erik Godoy; Ali Adnan, PC, 60 (Russell Teibert), Jon Erice(C), 60 (Lucas Venuto), Inbeom, Jake Nerwinski, 89 (Joaquin Ardaiz); Theo Bair, Yordy Reyna. 3-5-2

Sporting Kansas City Starting XI: Tim Melia; Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler(C), Botond, Barath, Graham Zusi; Gedion Zelalem, 65 (Benny Feilhaber), Illie Sanchez, Felipe Gutierrez; Daniel Salloi, 89 (Johnny Russell), Yohan Croizet 71 (Krisztian Nemeth), Gerso. 4-3-3

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VANCOUVER, B.C – The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7. Fans from around the world will be tuning in for a month of fantastic women’s football. Twenty-four teams will compete in France, for a chance to hoist the World Cup on July 7, in Lyon.

Canada will take on Group E opponents, Cameroon, New Zealand, and the Netherlands in Montpellier (June 10), Grenoble (June 15), Reims (June 20). There will be a sense of familiarity for no.5 ranked Canada, who also faced New Zealand and the Netherlands when Canada hosted the 2015 World Cup. Canada earned a draw vs both countries.

Just like fans across the country, Vancouver Whitecaps FC players will be cheering on Canada. Many Whitecaps FC players know the Canada’s women’s national team, and have met, trained, and been in the same environment representing Canada.

While on an MLS Gold Cup break, several Whitecaps FC players shared their thoughts on Canada’s chances at the World Cup, and the brilliance that is, Christine Sinclair.

“Yeah, I support them,” Doneil Henry explained to Har Journalist. “I love our women’s national team. Jordyn Huitema, just signed at PSG, and (Janine) Beckie at Man City. We have some really talented women on the national team. I’m excited to see them continue to go far. Knowing that John (Herdman) has a lot of history with the women’s side, and the respect that he has for them. I just wish them the best. I just know that they’ll do us all proud.”

“They’re a great team,” Russell Teibert said. “From what I know, from Canada Soccer, they’re going to be a hard working team. They’re going to do everything possible to keep Canada at the top of women’s soccer. We’re familiar with the team, because John (Herdman) was the women’s national team coach. I think we’re all together as a family in Canada Soccer.”

“They’ll get out of it (Group E) for sure,” Max Crepeau predicted. “No pressure on the women’s team, but they’re really really good, honestly. In the last few years, they’ve been dominate, I’m pretty confident that we’ll get out of the group. I hope they go to the semis, but one game, at a time.”

“I’ve been in the Whitecaps program since I was fifteen ” Theo Bair revealed. “I made some friends at school along the way. Elite Girls players, Julia Grosso, Jordyn Huitema, and Jayde Riviere. All three, really good players, promising players for Canada, and my good friends. I’ve seen all of them work, not only on the field, but off the field. They’re great athletes, people, great students, and I think that applies both ways.”

Christine Sinclair is arguably the greatest professional football player Canada has ever had. As she closes in on U.S. Soccer great, Abby Wambach’s, all-time goal-scoring record of 184 goals. Whitecaps FC players can’t wait to see Sinclair make history and set the record. It’s quite likely that Sinclair won’t remain on her 181 goal total for very long.

“Sincy’s been doing it forever,” Henry said. “Since I was a young one with Toronto, I’ve been seeing her score goals, everywhere, at every stage. I can’t wait for her to beat it, because she’s definitely going to do it.”

“I just think she’s the best Canadian soccer player,” Derek Cornelius added. “She carries herself very well. She’s a good role model for a lot of the ladies coming up. She just leads our country in the right way, and of course she’s a great soccer player.”

“I think it’s going to happen,” Brett Levis said with confidence. “I think it would be huge for soccer players all over Canada, for us to hold a record like that. It’s pretty unbelievable.”

“The killer instinct,” Crepeau said of Sinclair. “You have half a chance and you create a goal out of it. This is why she’s on top of the list for sure.”

As we witnessed four years ago, Canada’s women’s national team has the ability to capture the entire country from coast to coast. Canada is in with a real shout to make some damage at the World Cup. Twenty-three players will represent the red and white in France. Whitecaps FC players will be among the biggest supporters of the women’s team.

“We love our women’s national team,” Henry beamed. “While the men were in a slump for a very long time, the women have held the country really proud. The women are great. They’re tenacious. I think we’re definitely one of the few nations on the women’s side who can definitely win it.”

“Absolutely, I’ll follow,” Teibert said. “I’m a big supporter of Canada Soccer. I was a big supporter of the women’s team when they were here. I really enjoyed going to watch the games at B.C. Place.”

“I’m excited, I think it’s a very exciting team,” Levis explained. “I know they have a lot of young players. They’ve got some Whitecaps REX Girls players, hopefully they get their opportunity. It’s always fun to see the country rally around when the World Cup comes around. I’m just excited to watch.”

“As long as they played united,” Bair explained. “They’re a very strong group. I’ll tune in when I can, as long as I don’t have training. I’ll try to watch them because I want to support them.”

The football world, isn’t all that big. When Canada is on the biggest stage, they can know that there will be support in all corners of the country. Whitecaps FC players want to see them do well and succeed. Canada Soccer is one big family.

 

 

 

 

 

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Pro Soccer USA for my Whitecaps FC vs Toronto FC report.

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Whitecaps FC vs Toronto FC at B.C. Place in Vancouver on May 31, 2019. Photo: Har Journalist 

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VANCOUVER, B.C – The Toronto Raptors will make history tonight when they host the Golden State Warriors in the first NBA Final game outside of the United States. The Raptors have the support of the an entire country behind them from coast to coast.

The support extends to Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s biggest Raptors fan, Doneil Henry. The 26-year-old Henry, has fond memories of going to games with his family, well before the ‘We The North’, Drake, Raptors brand took off to unexpected levels.

“I had an aunt that use to bring me out to the Raptors games,” Henry explained exclusively to Har Journalist. “When Vince Carter was there. Just when Toronto started to have a buzz around basketball. Carter, the Junk Yard Dog (Jerome Williams), Mo Pete (Morris Peterson), these are the type of guys I think about when I think about the Raptors.”

The Brampton, Ontario native is a primo Raptors fan. He has lived through all the ups and downs from Alonzo Mourning, Rafael Araujo, to Andrea Bargnani. Henry knows that building a championship contender takes time, it can’t be build overnight. Seeing the Raptors in the NBA Finals after twenty-four years makes it all that more enjoyable.

“I’m a real fan, I’m not a hater,” Henry explained. “I’m the type of guy, it doesn’t matter how the team is doing. We trust the process. I’m a sportsman, I understand the game from a professional level. I know it’s not easy for a player, or management. Everybody wants to do well, and sometimes it takes time to get all the pieces right.”

Toronto Raptors President, Masai Ujiri, has found the right pieces to put his team in a position to upset one of the best NBA teams to take to the hardcourt. Kyle Lowry was always an x-factor, but adding Kawhi Leonard has helped the Raptors reach new heights. It has also helped having nemesis, LeBron James in the western conference with the LA Lakers.

The Warriors are a once in a generation NBA franchise. They have re-written the book on how to play basketball. There is no poor shot when Steph Curry pulls up. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala all know what it takes to win an NBA title. Even with Kevin Durant waiting on the sidelines. Henry isn’t wavering.

“I have no fear, I have no worries,” Henry revealed. “I believe in the team, we have really good players. If any games I felt like we were in any trouble, it was the (Milwaukee) Bucks. No-one can mark (Giannis) Antetokounmpo. He’s a great player, young player, explosive, and aggressive.”

“I think that with Golden State, we match up better with them,” Henry continued. “We have lock down defenders that can defend the perimeter. Now it’s the question of who is going to guard Kawhi…”

Toronto could be the toughest team the Warriors have faced in the previous four NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers tried, but only managed to win once. For Henry, it’s not a matter of if the Raptors will win, but how many games it will take.

“Six, in The Six.” Henry said with confidence.

“I love the Toronto Raptors,” Henry beamed. “It’s really good to see that we’re in the finals.”

If the Raptors win game six at Oracle Arena, in Oakland, California, Henry will be ready to celebrate in his own special way. You won’t see him in his favourite purple Tracy McGrady jersey cheering on Yonge Street during a potential parade.

“Nope, I’m not into all of that.” Henry said.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – It’s going to be an all Canadian battle on Friday night at B.C. Place as Vancouver Whitecaps FC take on bitter rivals, Toronto FC. Vancouver will be looking to continue their recent run of form with a victory over a 5-6-2, (17 points) Toronto FC squad that’s winless in their last five matches (0-4-1).

Vancouver has picked up valuable points over Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas. Whitecaps FC have 17 points, from a 4-6-5 record this season, and they’ll be looking to head into the MLS Gold Cup break on a high.

Even with the Canadian Championship, Vancouver and Toronto don’t play each other often enough. When they do get together, there’s always fireworks, and plenty of bragging rights, for several Canadians from ‘The Big Smoke’.

“It’s important, we want to finish off strong,” Ajax, Ontario native, Derek Cornelius explained to Har Journalist. “We want to end this difficult stretch on the right foot. Yeah, it’s my hometown, so of course I want to do well, and get the three points for the club.”

Vancouver goalkeeper, Maxime Crepeau, is locked in and playing some of the best football of his career. Crepeau has solidified his role as a number one MLS shot-stopper, and he has recently come up with several quality saves of the spectacular variety.

The 25-year-old, Crepeau, relishes the opportunity to go up against a versatile Toronto FC side that features the ever dangerous Jozy Altidore, and first-year MLS magician, Alejandro Pozuelo. The dynamic duo lead Toronto’s offence with five goals each.

“Toronto is a team that’s been successful over the years,” Crepeau told Har Journalist following training. “They went to the cup final. Toronto is a team that can play with both systems. They can play 3-5-2, 4-3-3, and 4-4-2. They’re a good team, and we just have to maintain them, and we’ll be good.”

Vancouver skipper, Jon Erice, knows just what kind of exceptional talent, Altidore brings to a pitch. The former La Liga talent was a young prospect with Villarreal, when Erice first had a glimpse of his future potential.

“I saw Jozy Altidore when he was young, and playing in Spain,” Erice revealed. “He’s improved a lot, he’s a very very strong guy, strong player. A quality player. Michael Bradley, is one of the best players in MLS. One of the best midfielders, and we know him very well. They are a very good team, not only these two guys, and Pozuelo. They have a lot of good players.”

Whitecaps FC will be without the services of Brampton, Ontario native, Doneil Henry. The avid Toronto Raptors supporter will miss his second consecutive match with a left hamstring strain. Striker Joaquin Ardaiz, and winger, Lass Bangoura will also be unavailable. However, left-back, Ali Adnan, and winger Yordy Reyna are in contention.

Toronto FC also faces an injury crisis. Jonathan Osorio (hip / groin), Michael Bradley (hamstring), and Auro (hamstring) are all listed as questionable. It’s uncertain if any of the trio will travel to Vancouver today. Despite facing a depleted roster, Whitecaps FC coach Marc Dos Santos, isn’t about to underestimate Toronto FC.

“We know what we want to do,” Dos Santos explained. “I believe that there are seven to ten teams in the league that are just kind of vintage, top teams. Toronto is part of that group. How they invest, the fans, the fact that in the last three years, they went to two MLS Cup finals. Eight of the eleven starters are the core that went to the final. I know what they’re about. We’re always going to respect an opponent like Toronto. It’s going to be a tough game regardless of who comes here.”

While there might not be an edge on paper for either side. Vancouver can boast an advantage by just being at home. MLS western conference teams are on a fantastic run of form against their eastern conference foes. Western teams are 11-0-2 in their last thirteen matches against the east.

Might there be a new west coast v east coast beef underway on the pitch?

“It would be unfair for me to say that the western is stronger,” Dos Santos pondered. “I think that maybe in this moment right now, the teams of the west are just in a better form. Maybe travel affects, I’m not sure. It doesn’t mean that at any moment, teams like Atlanta have a lot of quality in their roster. New York Red Bulls can jump and become stronger.”

Whitecaps FC will be looking to jump all over a Toronto FC side that hasn’t found their stride in 2019. Vancouver’s key off-season pieces are finally starting to clicking, and the club looks to be finding some consistency. The centre of the universe could be in for tough night.