Saturday, June 13, 2009

Whitecaps: Van City Insanity

So, that was fun. The Whitecaps snapped their USL losing streak last night with a 3-2 victory [Gary Kingston, The Vancouver Sun] over Miami FC, but it may well prove to be a Pyrrhic one. The real story of the game was not the victory, but the fight between Whitecaps' teammates Charles Gbeke and Wesley Charles, perhaps the most ridiculous in-game feud between teammates since the Lee Bowyer/Keiron Dyer incident at Newcastle United (story from BBC News). Compare the videos below.

(Incident starts at 7:51 of the Whitecaps' clip).

This is not good for the Whitecaps. In fact, it's hard to think of two players whose loss might hurt the team more (except perhaps goalkeeping legend Jay Nolly). The Whitecaps are very short at central defence at the moment thanks to Jeff Parke's injury (turf toe) and Justin Thompson's sudden departure [Marc Weber, Back of the Net], so any suspension to Charles (which seems inevitable) will certainly hurt. Gbeke's almost as big of a loss; the Whitecaps don't have too many options up front, as Marlon James is still returning from injury and Marcus Haber is still rather inexperienced, and Gbeke's been their key scoring threat so far.

It's tough to predict exactly what will happen as a result. Marc Weber has some great stuff on the fiasco, and makes an excellent point about the PR dimension. The Whitecaps are a very fan-friendly organization and have quite a focus on appealing to kids and families; you can bet they won't be too thrilled with the conduct of Gbeke and Charles, and I doubt the league will be either. My guess would be that we'll see suspensions for at least one of them, possibly both, and possibly from both the league and the club. It will be an interesting situation to keep tabs on, but you can bet that the Whitecaps fans are hoping that the two can work it out, as they've been key parts of the team to date and will be hard to replace.

P.S. I'll be live-blogging the Toronto FC - New York Red Bulls game at 8 p.m. tonight. Join me then for more soccer coverage!

[Cross-posted to The 24th Minute]

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