VANCOUVER, B.C. — Now Vancouver can move on. Not just the Whitecaps, but the entire city.
After a tough few days for sports fans in Vancouver, the Whitecaps provided healing on Saturday, giving fans something to cheer about as they ended their MLS single-season record 14-game winless streak with a spirited 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Union at Empire Field.
“It’s been a tough week in the city of Vancouver with the Canucks having such a great year and what happened there after,” head coach Tom Soehn told media after the match. “This is something that the city needed.”
What Soehn was referring to was, of course, the loss by the Canucks to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday, and the ensuing riots that left citizens thoroughly disappointed and embarrassed with the anarchists who gave their city a bad name.
On this day, though, it was a different story, as the Whitecaps’ victory over the Union was celebrated with a raucous ovation. It was well-deserved for the supporters as well, as they’ve stood behind the ‘Caps through a tough beginning to their inaugural Major League Soccer season.
“I am just happy for everybody,” said midfielder Davide Chiumiento. “First for the team, for the club, for the supporters, for everybody because after 14 games, it was a long time. Now we are just happy.”
Chiumiento played a large part in the victory. There’s been no questioning his playmaking abilities, but he looked quicker and fitter than he has all season, gliding around defenders with great pace.
Looking rejuvenated, Chiumiento set up the lone goal, dribbling through the middle of the field before feeding Alain Rochat. The left back then sent a curling rocket with the outside of his left foot to the far post and into the back of the net, padding Chiumiento’s assist total.
“I did a one-two with Eric and then, on the left side, I saw Alain and we know that he has a good left foot,” explained Chiumiento. “It was a beautiful goal and next week I must buy him dinner because that counts for an assist.”
Though the Union pressured late, the ‘Caps held on for a much needed win — to say the least.
The look on the players’ faces as the final whistle blew said it all. Jay DeMerit and Michael Boxall fell to the ground in relief, Eric Hassli pumped up the crowd and Soehn got a win in his first match coaching at home.
“I credit the guys,” said Soehn. “The staff has worked tiresomely to prepare ourselves to continue to progress. We are looking for the 90-minute mentality and today is a good sign we are getting there.”