Whitecaps make Disney final, shake 2011 loser label

ORLANDO, Fla. – This is all you need to know about the makeover of the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2012: The worst team in MLS last year now expects to win.

After Sunday afternoon’s 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, the Whitecaps secured a spot among the tournament’s final four. Following a 1-1 draw in the other Group A match between Montreal and Sporting Kansas City, the Whitecaps were assured a spot in the tournament final.

“I think that was what we had hoped for anyway and what we expected,” Vancouver manager Martin Rennie said after the match. “That’s what we wanted to do.”

Highlights: VAN 1, HOU 0

And if that weren’t enough, MLS teams now have another reason to fear the new-look ‘Caps: They have serious depth.

On Sunday, Rennie put on display a collection of “reserve” players who showed they have the quality to be MLS starters.

“I think that there is some depth there,” Rennie said. “There’s a lot of guys competing for a place and they’re all capable of playing which is very important. And they grew in confidence just a little bit more. They’re starting to realize that they are good players and that they can win games.”

Rennie praised industrious forward Long Tan (“He’s got quick feet and moves the ball quickly”), he had nice words for Greg Klazura (“I really like him … He’s going to be a good player”) and revealed high expectations for Michael Nanchoff (“he’s got tons of talent”).

With just 13 days until First Kick, the only serious threat to all the good vibrations in Whitecaps camp is injury news: Midfielders John Thorrington and Davide Chiumiento (day-to-day with back spasms) did not suit up on Sunday.

“We’re still waiting on that,” Rennie said in reference to the MRI conducted on Thorrington’s injured quad. “We’ll find out about that by I would hope [Monday].”