Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The GBU: Whitecaps - Portland

And, we're back! No, I wasn't shut down by the Chinese or the IOC over last week's post: instead, the horrible duty known as "work" intervened. I flew back to Kingston today, so I had to spend most of the last week finishing up stuff at the Langley Times and completing my football previews at Out of Left Field (I did all the Western Canadian CIS teams). Thus, it was tough to get anything up here, but I've been working on a couple of posts. Here's the first one: a GBU breakdown of last Friday's Vancouver Whitecaps match against the Portland Timbers.

The score: 2-1, Vancouver

How I saw it: In person.

The Good:

- Jay Nolly: Nolly has become somewhat of an omnipresent fixture on the "Good" side of the ledger in Whitecaps games this season, due to his strong play. He turned in yet another outstanding performance in goal Friday night, and was one of the best players on the field. His most impressive save came in the 65th minute, where he dived brilliantly to punch a close-range blast from Portland striker Bryan Jordan over the bar, saving a sure goal and the game in the process.

- Nicolas Addlery: Addlery's inclusion here is more surprising, but the seldom-effective Jamaican striker was in Usain Bolt-like levels of form Friday, notching a double to give the Whitecaps the victory. Normally, Addlery uses his speed to good advantage to create chances, but his finishing is often suspect. That wasn't the case this time, though, as he made no mistake, notching two goals off two good-but-not-great chances. His first strike came in the fourth minute of the match when he picked up the ball in the midfield, made a tremendous run forwards and drilled a blast into the top right corner from 20 yards out. He added another just before the half, using Bolteqsue speed to break through the defence and in alone on the keeper from 35 yards out and then brilliantly chipping the onrushing keeper. His goals on the night matched his total for the year, but few Whitecaps fans were complaining.

- The Whitecaps' back four: Each member of the defence turned in a great performance. Centre back Omar Jarun was his typically solid self, making some exceptional sliding tackles, while Wesley Charles, Jarun's compatriot in the middle of the park, won almost every aerial challenge. SFU product Luca Bellisomo continues to improve with every game, while Lyle Martin was effective both going forward on the flank and quickly tracking back. A superb defensive performance all around.

- The tribute to Dave Morris: It was nice to see the Whitecaps honour their former midfielder, who was a big part of the team for eight years and a fan favourite. The pre-game ceremony was well done, and showed that this club really cares about its players and the interests of its supporters.

The Bad:

- Lawrence Olum: The Portland midfielder's twelth-minute equalizer was a thing of beauty, as he volleyed a perfect flick-on from forward Chris Bagley into the back of the Whitecaps' net. If the colour of his jersey was different, this would undoubtably be in the good column, but as he scored for the opposition, he winds up here.

- Bryan Jordan: Funnily enough, there were two Jordans on the pitch Friday, and both were effective strikers who wore #26. Unlike Jason Jordan, though, Bryan plays for the Timbers. He showed he's plenty talented, and he was a threat throughout the contest.

The Ugly:

- The drive: It was great to see about 30 loud and proud Portland fans make the trip up to Swangard Stadium (at least a six-hour drive). Away supporters always make it a more interesting atmosphere, especially if they're loud: it tends to galvanize the home crowd to shout them down. I feel sorry for these guys, though: they saw a great game, but their team came up short, which probably made the trip back seem longer.

Related: Steve Ewen's excellent recap in the Vancouver Province.

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