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.
"I'm exhausted and I didn't play," said Vancouver's manager Carl Robinson. "So, every one of them deserves a huge pat on the back... We had a travel day from hell two days ago. Obviously, we were [very] tired yesterday. We were battered and bruised after a tough game Wednesday night against" the Sounders. The players "deserve a lot of credit."
Erik Hurtado, starting a match for the first time since the 4-2 win over Galaxy in April, gathered a turnover at midfield and charged up the middle of the field before feeding the ball to Shea, on his left, who dribbled and chipped the ball over Joe Bendik to double Vancouver's lead.
It was a special night for Shea. He said, that "it's a place that [I only was] for two years, but it felt like forever. I love the fans, the city, and the organisation. It sucked when I left, but I'm in a new home, I'm happy, and like I said, I was happy to be back."
The victory moved Vancouver level on points with Houston at 38, but the Caps still have a game in hand on the Dynamo.
Vancouver, which leads the league in set-piece goals, opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Nicolás Mezquida's free kick went in off Orlando defender Tommy Redding's head. We're not sure if protocols were taken, but after the defender was caught in rugby union-like line-out later in the match, he may well have incurred an undiagnosed concussion.
The Whitecaps had made nine changes to the squad that drew Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday night. After coming on at halftime, Canadian Cyle Larin halved Orlando deficit by heading home a cross from Yoshimar Yotun in the 62nd minute.
Orlando, which controlled over 70% possession, is winless in its last six home games.
Thanks to the upcoming international break, Vancouver's next match won't come until 9 September when the Caps will host Real Salt Lake at BC Place.