Vancouver Whitecaps FC
First Kick is all about new beginnings, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew. For Joe Cannon and the Whitecaps it's about erasing a rough debut season in MLS and moving forward with a new coach, new players and a new outlook.
It's also about performance, at least in the short term. According to Cannon, tomorrow's match against the expansion Impact won't be about the final score but about how Vancouver plays the game. That may be true for the players but something tells be that the fans wouldn't mind seeing a result as well.
Where is the only place on the planet that unfussy, workman-like players like Jay DeMerit can become ankle-breaking, opponent-shaming playground superstars? And don't say "in their dreams."
It's FIFA Street, the grimy, showboating cousin of EA Sports' venerable FIFA franchise. Check out the clip above for an exclusive look at what a few of the MLS clubs look like in one of the game's 35 arenas.
Interestingly, the game features 23 national teams but only 6 leagues. Don't worry though: MLS is in there --boasting a hefty 234 players-- alongside Serie A, the Barclays Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga and France's Ligue 1.
Personally I can't wait for this to drop on 3.13.12. Download the demo now for XBOX 360 or PS3 if you've got the itch as well.
Creativity is definitely a collaborative process. In this case, the idea was to have Jay DeMerit try to fit the names of all seven dwarfs into his recent interview with Temryss Lane (watch the interview HERE if you're not sure what I'm talking about), and the collaboration came between Jay and I after a sunny Whitecaps training session in Orlando last week. We had pitched the 1-on-1 interview to Vancouver's PR Director and I was following up with Jay to discuss the specifics and the timing of meeting him at the team hotel, and we both thought that adding some kind of gimmick to the proceedings would make things a bit more fun.
As the team captain and a veteran of the professional game, Jay has become more than accustomed to these standard sit-down interviews, so some variety here would be a good thing for all parties involved. My first thoughts were about the various goofy games the characters in "Super Troopers" played, primarily when the one guy (pretty sure it was Foster) had to fit "meow" multiple times into his interaction with a motorist (played quite ably by Jim Gaffigan), but there wasn't a real logical connection there. Being at Disney World, however, we quickly came up with the idea of the seven dwarfs, though I don't think either of us could name all of them off the top of our heads. Going through the ones we did know, we figured "Doc" and "Happy" were going to be pretty easy, then came up with possible uses for "Dopey" and "Grumpy" as well. The team left shortly thereafter, and the rest was going to be up to Jay.
Our next task (besides researching the whole list) was trying to keep the secret from Temryss, who was conducting the interview. I told her we were going to try doing something a little different, and for her to just to keep the interview going as she normally would, but it quickly became apparent what was going on when Jay lost it after dropping "Bashful" the first time (the first clip in the video). By the time the second clip happened, she was onto it, and when Jay threw "Grumpy" in there, she couldn't hold it together. As Temryss was wrapping up the interview, Jay had fit six of the seven in, and I was off camera pointing to the word "Sneezy" on a piece of paper. He thought quickly, and came up with the sneeze at the end, but hadn't really thought out what else to say to conclude, so that funny exchange (clip three in the video) resulted. All in all, it was a blast to collaborate with such a funny guy, and made for a great time throughout the entire production process. "Work" can indeed be fun.
Middlesbrough midfielder Barry Robson won't join the Vancouver Whitecaps until this summer, but his future coach, teammates, and fans must be salivating.
For the second match in a row, the Scot -- who recently returned from a longterm injury -- put in a dominating performance in a 3-1 win away to Portsmouth. He opened the scoring from the penalty spot, and his freekick set up Boro's second.
Boro are now level on points with Blackpool for 4th place in the English Championship, with a game in hand. That means they're definitely in the hunt for promotion to the EPL.
If Robson is on similar form when he joins the Whitecaps, who already boast some impressive firepower -- have you seen them in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic? -- he could be the integral midfield piece to drive them into the playoffs.
Hell, at this rate, he might be the driving force to help them finish atop the Western Conference, as my colleague Simon Borg thinks they will. I laughed him off when he first said it. I'm only semi-chuckling now.
I promise you this was not set up.
Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli spent today's post-practice media availability talking up his teammates as players but also citing new sense of camaraderie among the team as a reason for their impressive preseason form (they've been the best team here in Orlando, at least for my money). And then, as if on cue, this happened. It's like the soccer gods willed it to offer proof to the world that what Hassli spoke was the truth.
There's no doubt that the Whitecaps will fare better in 2012 than they did last year and that they now seem more like a team that 11 guys wearing the same colored shirt --that's the Impact's problem now. We'll just have to wait and see if their good times will roll all the way to MLS Cup.
Not content with the robust stable of forwards already under their employ, the Vancouver Whitecaps announced today the signing of Maltese striker Etienne Barbara. Having registered a 20-goal season last year under Rennie while with the Carolina Railhawks, his nose for goal will be no shock to his former and current coach.
What exactly does Rennie think of his 7th (yes 7th) striker? Check out the clip above to hear what he has to say about him following today's practice in Orlando.
Well played, @WhitecapsFC. Very well played.
Plenty of folks were disappointed that the little Swiss playmaker spent his maiden MLS voyage tethered mostly to the wings. As part of the Martin Rennie overhaul in Vancouver, though, it looks like Chiumiento will be moved to the center of the park - his natural spot, and the place he's wanted to play since day one.
Go to 1:16 of the following video and you'll see why that's a good idea:
Yes, it was against a college team. Yes, it's just preseason, and no, most MLS defenders wouldn't fall for those shenanigans.
But Chiumiento's got more than that in his bag, and the 'Caps are going to improve this year (I figure they'll compete for the final Western Conference playoff spot). If they go from 6-18-10 in 2011 to the postseason in 2012, somebody's gonna get the credit.
If history holds, that somebody will be Chiumiento. Six of the last nine MLS MVPs have been attacking midfielders, and many of them - David Ferreira, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Christian Gomez - are strongly associated with "turnaround" seasons.
Never in the history of humanity has a Canadian pensioner and the music of The Carpenters been deployed for such diabolical means. Leave it to Cascadia to find a way to make soft rock sinister. Bravo Vancouver, bravo.
Player interviews go up on our site and the team websites pretty much every day, but sometimes what you see on camera doesn't tell the whole story. After Monday's Seattle-Vancouver pre-season game, just such a situation arose. A couple of veterans, a rookie, and an impressive amount of focus ensue...