Archive for the ‘Major League Soccer’ Category

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VANCOUVER, B.C –  Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, an opportunity to help open doors, shine a spotlight on mental health issues and raise awareness to help end the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Everyone knows somebody battling mental health issues. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what you’ve done in life. There are no days off. Mental health awareness is important and it’s crucial that people are more open to talking about it.

How important is mental health?

“Extremely important,” Whitecaps FC’s Russell Teibert told reporters this week. “It’s a topic of conversation globally now in any work place, setting. Whether it’s a kid in elementary school or someone working a nine to five job, or even in professional sports. It’s a topic that needs to be talked about.”

“We’re fortunate to have Bell as a sponsor. They’re on the front of our jerseys, our super cool jerseys. It’s important for it to be talked about. That’s what it is, Bell Let’s Talk.”

Athletes are constantly under pressure to perform and live up to their contracts. Players, fans, and media demand to see them at their best. Just like you, when you’re not always at your best, athletes sometimes don’t deliver in the crunch.

“A lot of people probably don’t even know that they suffer from something like this,” Whitecaps FC’s Doneil Henry told Har Journalist. “It’s good to just engage in conversation, and let people know that it’s good to get things of their chest and raise awareness of what it is. That’s the key.”

We live in a society with less, and less privacy. Social media is a great online tool that allows you to express yourself, but it can also cause hurt. Everyone goes through life’s challenges. Talking about those challenges can help end the stigma and raise awareness.

“I think now with even social media, information, and everything that you have as information,” Coach Marc Dos Santos explained. “Just regularly everyday, people are becoming more aware of a lot of different types of issues. It’s a good initiative from everybody to highlight that, and make everybody aware, and sensitive to a cause like this.”

The 26 year-old Teibert doesn’t want people to be afraid of opening up and sharing life’s obstacles. The more you talk about something, the less likely you are to be consumed, worried and afraid of it.

“Everyone goes through mental health,” Teibert said. “No matter who you are, how extreme, or severe, everybody goes through mental health. A friend of mine who I met through a charitable organization explained mental health the best to me.”

“Mental health is like weeds in the garden. If you don’t do the weeding in the garden, what you’re trying to grow will not prosper. If you talk about it. If you’re open with it and you understand that mental health is not something to be hidden or to be afraid of. You’ll end up being able to talk about it with ease and confidence, and know that it’s not something you should hide or fear.”

If you get hit in the head, sprain your foot, or break your hand, you get treatment and a return to play recovery schedule. There’s always a plan to bounce back from a physical injury. The same can’t be said for mental health issues. You can go to the doctor for both, but only one is generally talked about and visually seen.

That needs to change.

“If you have a hamstring strain, you do the necessary things to treat that injury,” Teibert explained. “It’s not something that…. oh the hamstring will get better on its own. It’s something that you need to address. There’s things that you can do to address your mental health. Whether that is talking about it or seeing a professional that can help you. I think the most important thing is having a strong background whether that’s your family, support team, that’s able to help you and coach you through it.”

If you need help or someone to talk to find support among your family, and friends.

“In life we go through different situations that are unique,” Dos Santos added. “It’s always good to be surrounded by good friends, family, and people that love you to make sure that you’re in the right environment to grow, and achieve your dreams regardless of the position you’re in.”

Bell Let’s Talk Day is a once a year innovative, but it’s a strong reminder that we all can do more to continue raising awareness to help our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours dealing mental health issues.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – The first week of Vancouver Whitecaps FC training camp has concluded so what better time to anoint the no.1 goalkeeper for the 2019 season.

Maxime Crépeau and Zac MacMath were among the first group of players that head coach Marc Dos Santos acquired in December. While Whitecaps FC’s roster is a work in progress, the goalkeeper position is the strongest on the depth chart.

The 27 year-old MacMath has made 134 appearances in eight MLS seasons split between Colorado and Philadelphia. He has MLS experience, but has never really solidified being a no.1 goalkeeper. In his last two seasons with the Rapids, MacMath has 11 appearances, as former U.S. Soccer goalkeeper Tim Howard earned most starts.

“I’ve been a number one before,” MacMath told reporters earlier this week. “I’m looking forward to getting back to being a no.1 goalkeeper in this league. Hopefully I can be a leader in this locker room in helping some of the younger guys, and some of the guys transitioning into MLS.”

MacMath just wants a place to play. Opportunities didn’t come often enough in Colorado. Now that he’s in Vancouver, he’s happy to be in the running for more matchday action.

“I’m just happy to be here,” MacMath told Har Journalist.” Hopefully having an opportunity to play this season. With Tim (Howard) there, I really didn’t have a chance to play. Having that opportunity is kind of exciting for me. I look forward to the season.”

The St. Petersburg Florida native, has an all-time 46-51-36 MLS record. His best season came in 2013 when he was 12-12-10 with 12 clean-sheets for the Union. MacMath has not been a consistent starter in MLS since 2014.

That could change with Vancouver, but it’s not a lock.

MacMath is already taking on an underdog approach.

“Sure, if that’s the way I need to be,” MacMath said pondering the odd question. “It doesn’t really matter what position I’m in right now. It just matters come March 2.”

Maxime Crépeau was 2018 USL Goalkeeper of the Year. He was also named a 2018 USL First Team All-Star. Crépeau led the USL with 15 clean sheets. The 24 year-old doesn’t have a vast amount of MLS experience, but that should come. He made a trio of starts for Montreal during the 2017 season. At 0-3-0, he’s still looking for his first MLS win.

Whitecaps FC’s new goalkeeper coach, Youssef Dahha was the Ottawa Fury goalkeeper coach last season, and he worked closely with Crépeau. With the success Crépeau had last season in Ottawa with Dahha, maybe he will be the no.1?

“That would be a question for Marc,” MacMath said.

Crépeau could very well have an inside track on the no.1 spot, but Dos Santos brushed aside any notion.

“No, one-hundred percent not,” Dos Santos said of Crépeau having an advantage. “First of all, I never really worked with Max in the first team because he was a youth goalkeeper in the club. He was training with the first team, but he was never my goalkeeper.”

“Youseff had him in Ottawa, in maybe his only year he wasn’t with the Impact. So no, Max is here because he deserves to be here. He has the quality to be here. Every goalkeeper in the club and everybody training here has a fair shot.”

“The games are the indicator. It’s fair. Whoever does better.”

Preseason is when tactics, chemistry, and formations are first-born. This is when a lot of the ground work is done. It will also be the first opportunity to see which goalkeeper can shine in a new environment, Crépeau or MacMath.

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Daily Hive Vancouver for my latest Vancouver Whitecaps FC story.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – After an off-season that featured a flurry of players leaving, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are back, and preparing to kick-off preseason, with the first training session today at the National Soccer Development Centre.

Whitecaps FC’s roster shuffle saw eighteen players depart, and it’s still not clear what the final roster will look like before opening kick on March 2 vs Minnesota United FC at B.C. Place.

“I don’t know what time it is now,” Coach Marc Dos Santos told reporters. “I’ve been all over the world, me and my staff. All the staff was incredibly involved in this window, and we knew that would be the case after so many players leaving. It’s going to be a team with a new face, dynamic, and a new type of model. There was a lot of work to be done.”

While Vancouver does have a few new faces, there’s still some familiarity with the likes of Russell Teibert, Jake Nerwinski, and Felipe. The trio will be counted on heavily for leadership and experience. The first day back is almost like returning to school after a long summer break. The longest-serving Whitecap couldn’t be happier to be back.

“I come in today, and you see all the new fresh faces,” Teibert joked with reporters. “I think you guys might be some of the most familiar faces I’ve seen today. It really is like the first day of school. I know we all kind of remember what our first day of school was like. It’s exactly like that.”

If class is indeed in session, Vancouver has a lot of absentees at the minute. The European transfer window closes on January 31, and the MLS primary transfer window opens on February 7. Fans are hoping Whitecaps FC will sign a high-end Designated Player.

The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, and Bastian Schweinsteiger have all had a major impact in MLS. If you’re expecting a player of that pedigree to join Vancouver, it’s not happening anytime soon. Marc Dos Santos won’t be reaching for the ‘Blood Moon’.

“Is there going to be a designated player? Yes. We’re close to one. We’re looking at a lot of players that can fill the gaps for the future of this club. We want to build a championship team, and not only buy a championship team. We’re focused on building.”

“It looks good at the moment. We’re in the final stages of negotiating with some players.”

The frustrating part about negotiations, they take time. Just when you think you’ve got something across the line, there’s another team that’s swooped in with a better offer.

While the organization is busy trying to put pen to paper, there’s also the matter of negotiations with Whitecaps FC midfielder Efrain Juarez. His first season with Vancouver was a disaster. There have been discussions about a potential contract buyout.

“Effy, we’re still working on his situation,” Dos Santos explained. “In the process today, if he still has a contract with the club. If anything changes, we’ll make you aware of that.”

Another curious Cap to keep an eye on is Venezuelan striker, Anthony Blondell. Vancouver paid a hefty price to acquire the 24 year-old striker, and it hasn’t worked out. Blondell is in camp now, but his future remains clouded.

“Today, he’s one-hundred percent fully in my plans,” Dos Santos revealed a surprise. “He’s going to hate me in the beginning. I think it’s a player that we have to be on him a lot. You have to invest a lot in him. I told him today, he’s not going to like me at the beginning. I think he understands.”

Coach Marc Dos Santos is all about ‘Trusting The Process’. It worked for the Philadelphia 76ers, and it’s a motto he has taken to heart. It’s not about how you start, but how you finish. It’s early days, and the roster is far from being set in stone.

“It’s not like going to Zara to buy a pair of jeans,” Dos Santos said, as he took a trip to the Pacific Centre Mall. “How much is it? $50 here… I’m out. It’s not like that. There’s a big process. That’s what we’ve been working a lot on.”

Whitecaps FC have money to burn from the transfer of Alphonso Davies, but if we’ve learned anything over the years. The Caps aren’t about splashing cash, and pushing the boat out. The signings will come, but not soon enough for supporters.

 

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Team Caleb with Toronto FC’s 6th overall selection Griffin Dorsey from Indiana University at the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago. Friday, January 11 – Photo: Har Journalist

CHICAGO – The picks are in and the first two rounds of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft are in the books. Toronto FC, Whitecaps FC and the Montreal Impact all added talented young players to their rosters, but it was Griffin Dorsey and Team Caleb that stole the show.

Toronto FC’s 6th overall selection gave them the highest pick among the Canadian trio. The Reds selected midfielder Griffin Dorsey from Indiana University.

The 19 year-old Dorsey, immediately showed his leadership, compassion, and character as he shared his special moment with his 8-year-old friend, Caleb from McCourtsville, Indiana.

Caleb is a devout Indiana Hoosier soccer fan who has faced a variety of challenging illnesses in his young life. He loves soccer, but isn’t able to play the sport. It was a no brainer that Dorsey wanted to invite his biggest fan to the MLS SuperDraft.

“I met him through IU,” Dorsey said of Caleb. “He started supporting us and we got him into the locker rooms and he moved our whole team. He moved me, and it’s an honour to be able to share this with him.”

“I think he wanted to be here, but I also wanted him to be here. It was an honour.”

“He’d come to all the home games. He ended up coming to the college cup in California, and he was with us all the way through the season. He was in the locker room, around the team. He was doing everything with us. It was awesome to have him around.”\

In Dorsey, Toronto FC is getting a footballer that is much more than the beautiful game. Dorsey cares, and he wants to use his abilities on and off the pitch to help others. The hard work begins now, and Dorsey will be ready to show Toronto FC what he can do.

“I can’t wait to get started, get to work, and meet the guys on the team that I’ve looked up to. I want to be a professional soccer player. Here we are living the dream, and I can’t wait to start the hard work.”

When the Colorado native does crack TFC’s lineup, you can be sure Caleb will be there supporting him just as he did during Dorsey’s time at Indiana.

“I would hope so,” Dorsey smiled. “I definitely hope he comes up for sure.”

Vancouver Whitecaps FC had a bit of a wait until they made their only selection of the day. The Caps selected  Georgetown University centre-back Brendan McDonough.

In 63 appearances and 52 starts for the Hoyas, McDonough contributed two goals and two assists in four years at Georgetown.

“Brendan is a centre-back that has a good margin to progress,” Whitecaps FC Coach Marc Dos Santos told reporters at the SuperDraft. “He’s a player that catched our eye when we were looking at the combine, and even before. He’s a centre-back that has the ability to play in back-four or a back-three. We like speaking with him to also learn about the person. He’s comfortable on the ball, he’s aggressive defensively, so we’re proud to have him.”

“We knew at the 35th pick, we had to pick the best player possible, and he was always number one for us in that type of round. We’re happy with that pick.”

The 22 year-old McDonough was not in attendance at the MLS SuperDraft. Whitecaps FC fans can expect to see him when training camp begins in Vancouver on Monday, January 21.

“He’s very happy to come to Vancouver” Dos Santos echoed.

Although Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal did not stock pile draft picks, it was a strong MLS SuperDraft for Canadian born players as three were chosen among the first 10-picks.

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FC Dallas 4th overall selection Callum Montgomery from the Victoria Highlanders at the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago on Friday, January 11 – Photo: Har Journalist

Victoria, B.C. native, Callum Montgomery was the highest Canadian selected. The former UNC-Charlotte centre-back went 4th overall to FC Dallas. After meeting with FC Dallas at the MLS combine. He had a bit of an inkling that Dallas might be his destination.

“I was a late bloomer,” Montgomery admitted. “My career developed at different times. I wasn’t part of Whitecaps residency program or their residency team. Growing up, I played for the Victoria Highlanders which was a great success and a great team. I had a wonderful experience with the Victoria Highlanders. I’m just really excited to be with FC Dallas and hopefully contribute.”

“I hear Dallas is a great city. New coach coming in. It’s an exciting time for the club. I think it’s going to be an unbelievable experience. They have some centre-backs I can learn from and grow my game every single day. That’s my mentality. I want to get better every single day. I’m really excited and just looking forward to the home opener.”

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The 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago on Friday, January 11 – Photo: Har Journalist

In a year where we saw a Union dissolve all of their MLS SuperDraft picks, it just goes to show that the MLS SuperDraft is still an important day for the next generation of MLS footballers. You only have to see the generosity from Griffin Dorsey.

Notes: The Montreal Impact selected Maryland’s Amar Sejdic 34th overall. Toronto FC also took Adam Wilson 39th overall from the University of Louisville. Vancouver and Montreal did not make a first round MLS SuperDraft selection.

 

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Red Nation Online for my Vancouver Whitecaps FC offseason update.

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