Peruvian captain Paolo "El Padre" Guerrero was handed a 30-day preliminary suspension by the PFF on Friday after tests came back positive for a banned stimulant in the wake of Peru's scoreless World Cup qualifying draw in Argentina on October 5th.
Doctor Julio Segura spoke with Peru's Radio Nacional on Friday, explaining that "at the national team, we are aware of what anti-doping control is... So, we don't use any substances that produce doping [results]. It's a shame what happened with Paolo, but I am sure there was no problem from our side."
After his side failed to record a single shot on target in a drab first leg to their quarter-final, Vancouver Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson rolled the dice with an attack minded eleven in the all or nothing rematch.
That gamble came up snake eyes.
Clint Dempsey scored twice in the second half Thursday as Seattle Sounders FC defeated the 'Caps 2-0 to end Vancouver's season, and advance to the semi-final, which will played against either Houston Dynamo or Portland Timbers. Those clubs also played to a scoreless draw in their first leg, with the return match set for Portland on Sunday.
According to sources in Africa and Vancouver, Nigerian international and current Kano Pillars FC centre back Jamiu Alimi has confirmed that he should join Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the start of the 2018 season.
“We have been on the deal for some months now, but I have been delaying the deal. So, I can confirm that by January, I should officially join them."
“I got series of offers in Europe, but I decided to join the league because America is a peaceful place, and Vancouver offered me a better deal compared to other offers I received,” Alimi added.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Seattle Sounders FC combined for just one shot on target in a scoreless draw to open the second round of the League Cup on Sunday night.
Vancouver, which missed out by eight points last season, and Seattle, 2016 winners, kept things close to their chests at BC Place with neither side willing to take many risks.
The second leg of the two game aggregate series goes on Thursday at Seahawks Stadium.
The Whitecaps, who finished third in the Western Division, were coming off the club's first ever playoff victory — a 5-0 demolition of San Jose Earthquakes in Wednesday’s single elimination knockout round.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC have lived and died with set pieces in 2017.
A clinical performance Wednesday helped the cub to its first ever victory in the League Cup.
Cristian Techera scored on a stunning free kick before Vancouver poured it on late in a 5-0 drubbing of San Jose Earthquakes in the Major League's first round.
The Whitecaps scored 15 goals off dead ball situations during the season and added three more in what turned into a dominating night after some early jitters.
Whitecaps captain and centre back Kendall Waston felt compelled to reach out to fans in advance of the team’s playoff game. Here is his message:
I didn’t know what to do.
I had just scored the biggest goal of my life. The goal that helped Costa Rica qualify for the 2018 World Cup. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry.
I was just full of happiness.
It was a magical moment that I will never forget. People have been saying I’m a hero in Costa Rica now. I don’t know about that. I’m just happy to have helped make history for my country.
Darren Mattocks scored early in the second half to give the Portland Timbers a 2-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday in both club's season finale.
Portland won the Western Division title to earn a bye in the first round of the League Cup. The Timbers also won their fourth Cascadia Cup, which is a trophy created by the supporters of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, awarded to the best team in the Pacific Northwest.
Vancouver opened the scoring in the 29th minute, when Yordy Reyna’s free kick from 25 yards out found an unmarked Kendall Waston, who headed in his fourth goal of the season.
As he watched his team waste a number of opportunities to build on its lead Sunday, Vancouver Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson had a sinking feeling.
"It worried me when you don’t get the second goal and kill teams off,” said the Welshman. "When that happens and you miss chance after chance after chance, it comes back to bite you on the bum sometimes."
"It certainly did today."
Nicolás Lodeiro hadn't found his way onto the score sheet in more than a month.
On Wednesday night, he was all over it.
Loderio had a goal and two assists and La Liga veteran Victor Rodríguez scored his first Major League goal to help Seattle Sounders FC beat the Western Division leading Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-0.
The Sounders (12-11-8) rebounded from a 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday that snapped their unbeaten streak at 13 matches. Since beating Minnesota United FC on August 20, they had four draws before the loss to Real Salt Lake.
Brek Shea returned to Orlando in the blue and white of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and yet the home supporters cheered for him. He scored a goal, the game's winner no less, and yet the home supporters cheered for him. There was nothing but love for the man affectionately known in these parts as 'the Avatar', with 'you'd better take good care of him' being the most common refrain.
Having sealed all three points for the visitors, he and his wife Carling might do well to take a Na'vi River Journey before riding a Banshee in the Flight of the Passage in Pandora: the World of Avatar in the Walt Disney World Resort. He has a title to defend, and more than that, he and his teammates earned the time off.
"Matí is an important member of the club and we wish him a speedy recovery," said Vancouver Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. "Our priority now is to support Matí and help him get back on the field as soon as possible. It's a big loss for us, but we have confidence in our group as we enter the final third of the season."
The native of Villa Raffo, Argentina, will have surgery to repair his ACL in the coming weeks, and will miss the remainder of the season. The club fully expects him to make a complete recovery come the spring. But his season is over.
And with it, perhaps the Whitecaps' season as well. Matías Laba has long been one of the most unheralded players in the Major League. They say that a holding midfielder is at his best when you don't even realise he's on the field.
Teal Bunbury, Canadian Football's prodigal son, continued his blistering pace by scoring a fourth goal in five matches as the New England Revolution beat Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 on Saturday night.
Bunbury finished off a nice passing sequence in the 53rd minute. Kelyn Rowe started it off by intercepting a goal kick by Vancouver's Stefan Marinovic. He sent it to Kei Kamara, who famously thought he was on his way to Vancouver before ending up in the Bay State. The ball was quickly returned to Rowe, who was on the right side, before being fed to a charging Bunbury, who found the back of the next from just outside the six year box.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Thursday that the club has signed central midfielder Aly Ghazal by use of Targeted Allocation Money.
Ghazal, 25, has agreed to a Major League contract through 2018, with a "club option" for 2019. He will occupy an international roster spot and officially join the club's squad pending receipt of his work permit, visa, and medical examinations.
"Aly is a top midfield player who is comfortable on the ball and strong defensively," said Vancouver Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. "He fits into the way we want to play, has a lot of experience at a great age, and brings leadership qualities. We are looking forward to welcoming Aly to our club and city."
Sebastian Blanco scored shortly after the break, as the Portland Timbers went top of the Cascadia Cup table, and incidentally managed to halt their winless streak at a measly six matches with their 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday afternoon.
Jeremy Ebobisse set up Blanco's winner, and opened the scoring in the fourteenth minute, while Vancouver's Andrew Jacobson levelled the match for all of four minutes.
Between Portland's injuries, suspensions, and the players still in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the match should have been Vancouver's for the taking, but things don't always turn out as expected.
The 'Caps successfully grabbed the bull by its horns, and will now look forward to catching the tiger by its tail later this month.
Goals from Alphonso Davies and Fredy Montero were enough to see off the New Yorkers, after 10-man Vancouver had earlier secured one goal draw in the first leg.
After Brek Shea, who had only been bought from Orlando on Monday, had some nice interplay with Jordan Harvey, Marcel de Jong whipped the ball into the six-yard box, and Davies finished it from close range.
"He was one of a number of players who was outstanding today," said Vancouver Whitecaps FC manager Robinson. "He's 16 years of age. I think two things stuck out to me."
Whitecaps FC added Peruvian International Yordy "Magic" Reyna from FC Salzurg today. Reyna, a 23 year old forward, can play all across a three man attacking line, but prefers the centre forward role, where he scored one goal every 263 minutes last year, or just under one goal for every three complete matches.
He was acquired with the use of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), and is under contract until 2018. The club has the option to extend his stay until 2020. Although he has agreed personal terms, the transfer is subject to receipt of his international transfer certificate, and his Canadian work permit and visa.
CONCACAF revealed Monday details of an expansion to its international club competition structure with the addition of a new tournament, accompanied by a new format for the CONCACAF Champions League.
The expanded CONCACAF club competitions platform will feature 31 club teams – increased from 24 -- beginning with the 2017/18 season. Sixteen clubs from countries around the region, including Canada, Mexico and the United States, Central America and the Caribbean, will compete in a concentrated CONCACAF Champions League to be disputed between February and May of each year.
Additionally, starting in August 2017, sixteen clubs from Central America and the Caribbean will participate in a new tournament, which will conclude in October.
Whitecaps FC will train on Monday in Vancouver before departing for the United Kingdom, where they face Cardiff City FC, Oxford United FC, and Bristol City FC on their pre-season tour.
The 'Caps British tour is in preparation for an upcoming Champions League quarterfinal with Red Bull New York. The first leg will be on 22 February in New York, and the second leg at BC Place on 2 March.
On Monday, the 'Caps will train at Ken Woods Field at 11:30 AM. The first team will be joined by four Whitecaps FC 2 players, two unsigned draft selections, as well as a select number of camp invitees. The full squad is listed below.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Thursday that former Orland City SC and Toronto FC goalkeeping coach Stewart Kerr has joined the technical staff on a two-year contract, which runs through 2018. Kerr, 42, spent ten years as a player at Celtic FC, before moving to Wigan Athletic FC for the 2001-02 season.
Force into an early retirement due to a back injury, Kerr traded his gloves for a whistle. He has served as a goalkeeping coach at Scottish sides Airdrieonians FC, Motherwell FC, as well as Toronto FC and Orlando City FC in the Major League.
"We're pleased to welcome Stewart to our coaching staff," said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. "He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from the UK, as well as (the Major League), and has helped develop a number of quality goalkeepers."
The problems of the 2016 edition of Vancouver Whitecaps FC are well documented. At its most basic level, the 'Caps are having trouble scoring goals, and preventing them; but a better summary might be to say that they are finding ways of turning wins into draws, and draws into losses.
Tonight, it was Axel Sjöberg who broke the supporters' hearts. Sjöberg as you may recall, was the 14th pick in 2015, exactly one spot behind Vancouver's Tim Parker.
After tonight's result, Parker has still scored one more goal than Sjöberg, collected four fewer yellow cards (none of which were in the same match), while playing the equivalent of almost 18 more games. But if tangents like that are any indication, it's becoming harder and harder to find some silver linings.
Last week in Ottawa, Vancouver Whitecaps FC were battered, and they were beaten. They returned home with tails firmly tucked between legs, where they would need to reverse a 2-goal deficit. Vancouver had gone into that first leg thinking that they could rest some players. They are after all the defending Champions of Canada, and they finished 3rd in the Major League last year. But Ottawa Fury FC were no pushovers. It took three tiebreakers to separate them from New York Cosmos, and they were Cup Finalists last year. Fielding a nearly full strength squad, the 'Caps didn't waste any time in the second leg. Nicolás Mezquida won a 3rd minute penalty after Rafael Alves pushed him down in the box. Pedro Morales calmly sent Ottawa goalkeeper Romuald Peiser the wrong way, and cut the deficit in half. Less than twenty minutes later, Mezquida erased that deficit when he converted a nifty cross from Octavio Rivero. Alphonso Davies, a 15-year old striker from Liberia making his first professional start, would have sent the crowd of 17,863 into rapture had it not been for the woodwork. But there was a sense of when the third goal would come, not if.
Vancouver's Christian Bolaños and Kansas City's Diego Rubio scored first half goals, and the Whitecaps held on with only ten men for a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night.
Bolaños scored his first Major League goal, connecting with a Cristian Techera corner kick in the 14th minute. Bolaños deftly slotted the ball into the top corner with a left-footed volley, which beat Sporting goalkeeper Alec Kann.
Sporting tied it 13 minutes later on Rubio's first Major League goal. He scored off a scuffed shot by Kansas City's Lawrence Olum.
Vancouver went down to ten men in the 51st minute when an uncharacteristically poor back pass from Tim Parker to goalkeeper David Ousted forced fellow defender Kendall Waston to take down Rubio for his second yellow card.
Jordan Harvey and Kekuta Manneh scored for Vancouver and Dallas had an own-goal in the Whitecaps' 3-0 victory.
Vancouver took the lead in 35th minute, to end their three-match scoring drought, when Manneh whipped a cross in that Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz punched off defender Maynor Figueroa, and into his own net.
Harvey made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute off a Cristian Techera corner, after the ball fell to him in the Dallas penalty area. Manneh sealed it in the 77th when Blas Pérez — just into the match as a substitute against his former club — touched the ball to Manneh for a shot through Seitz's legs.
Major League-leading Dallas were unbeaten in their previous six matches.
Matías Laba was shown a straight red card in the first half, but the Vancouver Whitecaps still held on for a 0-0 tie with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday night.
The midfielder was sent off in the 28th minute for a challenge on Los Angeles counterpart Mike Magee, outside the Whitecaps' penalty area.
Vancouver is now unbeaten in three straight, while Los Angeles picked up its first away point of the season.
After an emotionally charged opening 45 minutes that included Laba's dismissal, the Whitecaps sat back after halftime, down a man, content to soak up the pressure, and try to hit the visitors on the counterattack.
Pedro Morales scored a penalty kick in the 23rd minute, and the Vancouver Whitecaps beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 on Saturday night.
The Whitecaps' captain sent goalkeeper Joe Willis the wrong way from the spot, after Dynamo defender Jalil Anibaba was judged to have fouled Vancouver striker Kudo Masto in the box.
Morales currently leads the Major League with four goals in four matches to start the season, all penalties. Vancouver's other two goals also have come from dead-ball situations — off a corner and an indirect free kick.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Manager Carl Robinson
"It was a better performance. This game is a process, and if you put the right performances in, the results will come. I think we tripped ourselves up with mistakes in the first two games and we accepted that. Today was a team performance."
On Seattle's equaliser:
"(There was) lots of character shown today. It's not an easy place to come. We know we have to have a very good game against a very good team. We know they're going to put you under pressure, and they did that today. When they got the goal, it was a set piece, and a fantastic finish on a free kick. But we showed character, and we probably played our best little bit of football after they scored. That shows the team has character."
Montreal Impact beat Vancouver 3-2 in the Major League, with Argentine midfielder Ignacio Piatti the star. The Impact didn't have Designed Player Didier Drogba, but as it turned out, they didn't need him. Piatti scored twice, assisted on a third, and proved the Impact were right to reject the "transfer offer in excess of $5 million" dollars, which they received from an unnamed Latin American club during the close season. "In different moments, he made it look easy," said Montreal manager Mauro Biello. "He's a first-class player, and when he plays like that, it's hard to defend." The first of these moments came in the 19th minute. Piatti effortlessly wove through a Vancouver defence that included Kianz Froese, Christian Bolaños, Fraser Aird, and Kendall Waston. Aird overcommitted, Waston slipped, and Piatti fired it home.
On the field, Blas Pérez is a man who drives opinion. Former teammate Chris Seitz asked, "is he a pest? Absolutely! Does he get under people's skin? 100%. But it's all part of his game, and all part of making him successful." When he wears your colours, you will love him and defend everything he does. When he's in the opposition, most of what comes to mind isn't fit to print. With a penchant for delivering when it matters most, Pérez has earned the enmity of the entire league. Everyone knows who he is and what he can do. But just as importantly, we all know where he is when the clock is ticking. Most of the time, he'll be right there, in the centre of the action. A clock of a different kind has this annoying habit of going on ticking, even after the final whistle blows. And at 34 years of age, FC Dallas decided to part ways with Pérez at the end of last season. But it was not for a lack of fitness or effort.
The Portland Timbers had less than 72 hours to recover from Thursday's epic 120-minute, penalty kick victory over Sporting Kansas City in the preliminary round of the 2015 Anschutz Cup. If they were feeling the effects on Sunday afternoon, it certainly didn't show. The Vancouver Whitecaps started the match without the services of Captain Pedro Morales, former designated player Mauro Rosales, and perennial starter, Pa Modou Kah, although the first two would see action after they replaced Kekuta Manneh and Gershon Koffie, respectively. The match was officially a sell-out, with an announced capacity attendance of 21,144, although there was a large swath of empty seats sprinkled throughout the stadium. The Timbers Army unveiled a Bob and Doug McKenzie-inspired banner in honour of regular goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, but the New Zealander was left out after he developed the flu.
The Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club has once again qualified for the Anschutz Cup, not that you will hear it referred to by that name from the Major League, or many of its media partners. They prefer to use its sponsored, and no doubt focus group approved name, the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. Vancouver's "qualification" comes after their scoreless draw with FC Dallas. The problem is that they have not actually qualified yet. The Whitecaps have assured themselves of at least a spot in the play-in round, where they lost to Dallas in 2014, and Los Angeles in 2012, but they aren't in the Anschutz Cup proper just yet. In a sense, they have qualified for the qualifying round.
Christopher Vose came to British Columbia in 1995. Since then he has freelanced extensively as a writer, historian, poet, and photographer. His work has been published on six continents, and he will get Antarctica too if climate change has its way.
Tony Lewis is a photographer who has dabbled in travel, landscape, and animal photography, but it is sports where he has truly found his niche. He currently serves as FC Edmonton's official photographer. His portfolio can be found at TLFoto.ca
Mynor Campos is a member of the British Columbia Soccer Referees Association, has written for Noticias FutbolMLS, Major League Soccer's Spanish-language website, and has been seen his photos printed in a number of latino publications.