It can be said that a football club is only as good as its spine. Much like the human vertebrae, the four central pieces of a club are its goalkeeper, senior centre back, central midfielder, and striker. Having missed last year's cup competition, both Vancouver and Min United made extensive changes to their spines during the winter.
Tonight, Vancouver pitched Maxime Crépeau, Érik Godoy, Jon Erice, and Fredy Montero against Min United's Vito Mannone, Ike Opara, Darwin Quintero, and Romario Ibarra. Of the eight, only Quintero and Ibarra are holdovers from 2018, both having joined mid-season. Perhaps it is telling that both players saw their name added to the score sheet. Stability counts for a lot.
"Derek is one of the top young players in a new generation of Canadian talent," said Whitecaps FC manager Marc Dos Santos. "For his age, he has the right composure and characteristics we look for at the centre back position. We have followed his progress... and believe he has developed in the right way. He has also been exposed to different environments, and this is always good for a player’s development. We are working hard to build this [squad] and will be announcing additional player acquisitions very soon."
Cornelius, 21, is the son of a Barbadian father and a Jamaican mother. He comes to the 'Caps after having spent the last six years between Russia, Germany, and most recently, Serbia.
After starting 20 of FK Javor Ivanjica's matches during last year's relegation hit season, the Canadian has struggled for minutes, playing only three times.
"Austin is a thriving metropolitan city – the personification of what we mean when we say [the Major League] is a 'League for a new America,'" said Commissioner Don Garber said in a league release.
"We are extremely proud to be the first major professional sports league to become part of the culture of this historic American city. In their support of a world-class soccer stadium that benefits everyone, the leadership of the City of Austin has shown tremendous faith in our league and game, and Anthony Precourt has paved the way for Austin FC to have great success on and off the field."
"To the people of Austin and the surrounding community, welcome to" the Major League.
So, Austin FC is official. But how did we get here?
Vancouver Whitecaps FC drafted Georgetown University centre back Brendan McDonough in the second round, 35th overall, of the 2019 Major League SuperDraft on Friday.
McDonough, 22, made 56 starts in 63 appearances at Georgetown, collecting two goals and two assists while serving as captain over the last two seasons.
The 6-foot-2 defender helped the Hoyas to three Big East Tournament titles in his four years, scoring the game-winner in last year’s championship match. As a senior, McDonough was named to the All-East Region Second Team and the All-Big East Conference Second Team after he helped Georgetown to a league-best 10 clean sheets on the season.
Last season left Vancouver Whitecaps FC's supporters with a certain sense of dissatisfaction. They failed to qualify for the Major League Cup, and lost some of their best players, such as Tim Parker, Kei Kamara, Kendall Waston, Nicolas Mezquida, and most especially, wunderkind Alphonso Davies.
The club has a new manager in Marc Dos Santos, and as he and his staff prepare for the coming campaign, which sets off against Minnesota United FC on Saturday, 2 March 2019, Vancouver Whitecaps FC supporter Justin L. thought it would be worth looking back at Vancouver Whitecaps FC's Top Ten Major League goals.
The anniversary strip has been doing the rounds on twitter as the Caps prepare for the new campaign.
Vancouver Whitecaps' new 'Anniversary Kit' has been leaked on social media - and fans may be surprised by the collar.
The retro number has been doing the rounds on Twitter as the 'Caps prepare for the new campaign.
The picture shows a white shirt, complete with Adidas branding, official Vancouver Whitecaps club crest, and Bell sponsorship.
Get a first look at the 2019 Major League schedule as Susannah Collins, Andrew Wiebe, and Calen Carr take you through all the key dates including Rivalry Week, Decision Day, and the 2019 Major League All-Star Game.
I shall tell you of the story of the Battle of BC Place. Statisticians from the Major League will say I am liar, but stats are recorded by those who have sent off heroes. King Zlatan stayed home, safe and secluded in his Californian Castle, while the King of Cascadia was abroad, watering the meadows of France with Tunisian tears.
In the absence of King Kendall, the Cascadians were ably led by General Efrain Juárez, while Sebastian Lletget was at the head of the invading force. From the start, the Californians dug in. Between their wounded, and those who had deserted over battlefield concerns, they were in no position to wage an offensive campaign.
Earlier today, Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced that they had sent $277,500 in Targeted Allocation Money or TAM to Colorado Rapids SC in exchange for $185,000 in General Allocation Money or GAM. Now, before you start scratching your head, there is a method to this apparent madness.
In an exceeding bit of generalisation, TAM is meant to bridge the gap between Designated Players and regular Players. Any player earning more than $504,375, all figures US, automatically becomes a Designated Player. A club can apply TAM to their Budgeted Salary to make them a regular player, as the Whitecaps did with Kei Kamara.
GAM on the other hand, can be applied to a Designated Player, paying their Budgeted Salary down, but is mostly used on the regular Players, like for instance, if the 'Caps were close to the ceiling, and wanted to officially add David Edgar.
Kei Kamara has played almost 300 games in the Major League, and he's scored almost 100 goals, so when he speaks, it is with the voice of experience.
"He's good," Kamara said of Alphonso Davies, who set up Kamara's 99th tally, before adding his first. Together, they have a hundred league goals. "I watched him before I came to this [club and] I appreciate the way he plays."
"He's still a young boy. He did really well tonight."
Davies crossed the ball, virtually from the touchline, into the box, where Kamara headed it past Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush in the 63rd minute. A mere seven minutes later, Cristian Techera fed him the ball after seeing Davies' supporting run. Bush got a piece of the ball, but not enough to keep it from rolling across the line.
Kei Kamara scored on his debut for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 17-year old Alponso Davies scored the first Major League goal of his career, while Ignacio Piatti of the Montreal Impact pulled one back for the visitors, as they kicked of the 2018 season.
The Vancouver Whitecaps 2018 close season has had two defining events: signing Anthony Blondell from Monagas SC in late November, and sending their 2019 first round and a conditional 2020 second-round SuperDraft selection to New England Revolution for Kei Kamara. With Blondell and Kamara, Vancouver finally has both a second striker and a centre forward again, something they've been sorely lacking since the days of Camilo Sanvezzo and Kenny Miller.
Not so fast. Before opening the roof on the 2018 campaign, Vancouver had one more piece of business to complete. Tim Parker wanted out.
It would be fair to say that Jordon Mutch hasn't exactly been having a lot of fun this year. Crystal Palace are mired in a relegation fight, where they currently sit 17th in the Premier League, and his last action, if you can call it such, was as an unused substitute at Bristol City in the League Cup. He's also sat on the bench at Old Trafford, and at home to Huddersfield Town this year.
The 26-year old has been featuring here and there for the club's U23 side, as he works to regain confidence and maintain his match fitness, but he hasn't had a proper outing since April, back when he was on loan to Championship side Reading.
The Whitecaps acquired $150,000 in 2018 Targeted Allocation Money, or TAM, from Chicago in exchange for midfielder Tony Chani.
Chani, an 8-year Major League veteran, only joined the Whitecaps in March, having been acquired from Columbus, along with $225,000 in 2017 TAM, as well as $75,000 in 2017 General Allocation Money, for striker Kekuta Manneh.
"We are thankful to Tony for his time in Vancouver and wish him all the best with Chicago," said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. "This move will give us additional roster flexibility."
The ongoing political tension in the United States has seen their bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, joined by Canada and Mexcio, come under increased pressure from Morocco.
According to some estimates, the Moroccan effort is not only close, but has supplanted the North American bid as the frontrunners.
By stressing the involvement of Canada and Mexico, the bid committee hopes to offset the damage caused by the American geopolitical landscape.
It remains to be seen whether the inclusion of Canada, whose World Cup record stands at 3 matches played, 3 losses, 0 goals scored, 5 conceded; and Mexico, who incidentally hosted that very same tournament, will have any effect.
As per Kristian Dyer of the Metro New York newspaper, Tim Parker is said to have rejected an offer of 1.4 million over three years, or about $14,000 shy of the 2017 Designated Player threshold, and $58,000 less than he is reportedly seeking. All figures in USD.
Now, if you hadn't already realised by now, this is going to get a bit numbers heavy, but trust us, there's a point to it all.
According to the Players Union, Parker earned just shy of $100,000 last year. When it comes to professional athletes, $180,000 over three years doesn't exactly sound like a lot of money. But the Major League isn't like other leagues, in football, or in North America.
In 2014, Sportsmail compiled a list of 34 leagues from around the world and found that the average salary of a Major League player was 22nd, below that of the Greek Superleague, but above Columbia's Liga Águila.
Adding fuel to the fire surrounding the future of Tim Parker, the Whitecaps bought 24-year old centre back José Aja from Orlando City SC on Saturday, after agreeing to send $125,000 in 2019 Targeted Allocation Money to the Lions.
Should the Uruguayan remain with the 'Caps through 2019, they'll top up that TAM with a further $100,000. And if he's lasts three seasons, they'll also surrender their natural 2021 second round SuperDraft selection. Orlando will also retain a percentage of any future sell on fee.
That's a pretty price by Major League standards.
After four seasons with DC United, and ten in the Major League, Sean Franklin was a player without a club. Seeing Vancouver as an up and coming club, he jumped at the opportunity, joining the Whitecaps during the second week of preseason training. Of course, we're sure that the all-inclusive trip to Hawaii paid no part in his decision.
After experimenting with Jordan Smith, Fraser Aird, Sheanon Williams, and Jake Nerwinski over the past two seasons, adding the experience of Franklin is a good move for the club. Make no mistake, has been Nerwinski pencilled in as Vancouver's right back for many years to come, but as is the case with Tim Parker, that's why you write these things in pencil, not pen.
Franklin, a two-time Major League Cup winner with Los Angeles Galaxy, should prove healthy competition for Nerwinski, as well as depth in case of injury, or the always gruelling Major League schedule.
Ollie Duxbury, a Liga MX specialist for the Futbolgrad Network described Efraín Juárez as "a solid enough right back, quite versatile, can play centre, left-back, right; and centre mid." Duxbury added that "he was let go by Monterrey as they have better options. I feel he is an upgrade on what Vancouver" has, though he was quick to point out that he saw that upgrade only in the back four, not midfield.
That may owe to the fact that Juárez has spent the better part of the last decade as a fullback. But the player, and Whitecaps manager Carl Robisnon, are touting him as a box-to-box midfielder.
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.
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.