Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit could miss the 2013 season after rupturing his left Achilles tendon in Saturday’s opener against Toronto at B.C. Place.
The Province has learned that DeMerit suffered a complete tear just six minutes into the match when he leaped for a header. The 33-year-old had played through Achilles tendinitis last season, he admitted during training camp. It was an injury that flared up in February after receiving prolotherapy injections that were supposed to help.
Caps’ coach Martin Rennie said after Saturday’s win that both DeMerit and the medical staff felt confident in the defender’s ability to play in the opener. Instead, it was Brad Rusin stepping in quickly to play along side Andy O’Brien.
The lesson here is never take any risks ever in sports injury. Or rather that DeMerit’s Achilles was made of bits of paper, possibly some twine. Get well soon.
So I think Grant’s survey speaks for itself, and while it’s perhaps not entirely representative—he spoke to 18 anonymous players out a league with 19 teams with a max roster of 30 first team players on each team—it’s interesting to pretend it is so as to make broad extrapolations to “prove” a point. It’s called blogging, friends.
So what therefore can we conclude from a pan-Canadian perspective?
Well, along team management/ownership lines, Canadian clubs don’t really warrant much attention either positive or negative. Vancouver’s pitch sucks a bit. But neither are Canadian clubs particularly attractive destinations. Toronto tied with Chivas in clubs players would not want to play for. Perhaps the fact no other Canadian clubs stood out is proof that the whole problem of attracting foreign players is a myth? No because the sample size is far too small.
Oh and no Canadian clubs headed the best MLS stadium atmosphere vote, so you can stop playing that card. And players were equally neither hot nor cold on any of the Canadian club ownership groups, including MLSE. So again, perhaps players around MLS don’t see the club like Toronto fans do? Again, no, because 18 players is just not enough to draw conclusions about widespread attitudes in the league.
As for the intangibles like “most fun road city in the league” which could be translated as “most fun city to get loaded in and do drugs prolly,” Toronto got two votes out of 18. No other Canadian clubs made the list. Montreal—Montreal—got two votes for least fun road city in the league, which just goes to show that athletes are hella stupid. Also, sample size problem.
The marriage between Major League Soccer and Canada is now six years old. On the surface, it seems like a happy union.
Three teams are involved. Even with Toronto FC’s on-field struggles and Montreal’s slightly disappointing launch, attendance is solid in the three markets. More importantly, from the league’s perspective the sponsorship money is flowing in Canada—the Canadian teams have some of the richest deals in MLS.
So, MLS has to be happy with its Canadian experiment. They’d likely even point to the Whitecaps playoff appearance in 2012 as evidence that the team’s are starting to figure things out.
Debates about whether MLS would be a good thing for Canada—debates that were common in 2006 when Toronto was awarded a franchise—seem antiquated now. Very few people in Canada are critically evaluating the role MLS has played in Canadian soccer.
But, should we? Has MLS worked out for Canada? Are we getting as much out of the league as the league gets out of us? Read the rest of this entry »
When Danny Dichio finally scored for Toronto FC in the 24th minute of their fifth game of the MLS season and their second at BMO Field, the crowd was ecstatic. Seat cushions were hurled onto the field in wild abandon, people hugged and cheered for at least ten minutes afterward. The moment would be commemorated by the South Stand at BMO for years, a symbol of the first shoots of growth and hope for the club. And in the end, Toronto went on to finish with a 6-17-11 record, dead last in the table across both conferences.
To be fair, Vancouverites were far more restrained in their response to post-season play, knowing that defeating LA in the first hurdle was a tall order. And indeed, last night the Whitecaps lost to the Galaxy 2-1 in a spirited game that should leave Whitecaps fans hopeful ahead of next season. Massey himself said quite rightly he has nothing to complain about.
And that’s the real lesson in all this: Toronto FC fans have almost fetishized qualifying for post-season play, much in the same way they ached for Dichio to score after four games of no goals. Yet in Vancouver’s case, the reality of the post-season meant a single, added game to the season. And while they made a good case for adding a few more, in some ways they already exceeded expectations heading into last night.
I know in MLS the real attraction of the playoffs is possibility, particularly when one thinks of the 2009 when Real Salt Lake made the playoffs by picking up the final spot on goal difference and then went and won the MLS Cup. But moreover, as in Vancouver’s case, it means progress. Consistency of approach in team philosophy is progress. Better team unity is progress. Steady improvement in year-over-year results, even with a seasons’ dip or two, is progress. And eventually making the playoffs with a chance to win it all is progress.
Vancouver has it, Montreal might (see you next year!), and Toronto doesn’t. And I think that, far more than Vancouver’s accomplishment in adding their extra game this year, gives them reason to gloat. Read the rest of this entry »
Right off the hop, some would take umbrage with my reference to the Whitecaps as a “representative” of Canada in this tournament; indeed, while the winner of the Voyageurs Cup is officially Canada’s representative in the Champions League, each MLS club ultimately represents nothing but itself in league competition.
Still, in a largely asymmetrical bi-national league such as MLS, it’s tough not to feel that the fates of the three Canadian clubs are — if nothing else, at least perceptually — intertwined to some extent. More to the point, the fates of the three Canadian MLS clubs are intertwined with the country’s development system and the men’s national team.
Ben Massey pushes back, and also counters the claim of Vancouver’s critics over their use of Canadians in the first team:
I’m here to give carte blanche to everyone in Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Thunder Bay, Victoria, and whereever else the Whitecaps do not hold sway over your heart. Don’t cheer for us if you don’t want to. In fact, cheer against us if you like. We are of Canada, but that doesn’t mean we are Canada; a fact which has nothing to do with our lineup and everything to do with our history, our location, and the very nature of our existence.
My own take is that while these are compelling intellectual arguments in their own right, you can’t argue someone into supporting a team. I will probably faintly support a prolonged Vancouver run in the MLS Cup, but may also smile if they crash out in the first stage. Honestly at this stage I have no idea. I once vowed to support the US in their 2010 group stage match against England, and then found myself completely incapable following the opening whistle. It could go either way against the Galaxy.
Moreover, despite the importance of club football to the national game, that isn’t a compelling reason to hate Van City for not playing more Canadians. I’ve railed for a while against outsourcing responsibility for player development onto three Major League Soccer franchises with no national program in place. Blaming Vancouver for shafting youngsters with player pool as weak as Canada’s is a bit much; perhaps instead we should praise the success of some TFC academy grads all the more? Or maybe put their utility in perspective.
Just when I thought Canadian soccer had let me out, it pulls me back in.
To make some short notes about the Vancouver Whitecaps qualifying for the 2012 Major League Soccer post-season. I’m in the Massey camp on this one. It is historic, sure, in that it’s a first in a league that has existed for 16 years. But as a Canadian with more than his fair share of sympathy to the BC soccer scene, it’s hard to fist-pump.
For one, Vancouver squandered their big chance against Portland to celebrate the playoffs in front of their home crowd, losing 1-0 and praying Seattle were in a battling move (they needed their friends in Washington to beat FC Dallas and did, 3-1). Their less-than-convincing display, losing the Cascadia Cup to Portland, reflects, as Ben pointed out last night, that “Being the first Canadian MLS team to make the playoffs is a tribute to Toronto’s historic incompetence, not anything to do with the Whitecaps (or the Impact).”
Particularly as 55% of teams within the Western Conference qualify for the post-season as a matter of course. And the Montreal Impact are currently on the same points total and are already well out of any post-season contention, seven points behind the also eliminated Columbus Crew. What matters now is whether Vancouver are a post-season team. And there’s the rub; if the Whitecaps lose against the LA Galaxy on as many predicting they will, will this retain its “historic moment”-ness?
But then again, it’s a one-off, and this is football, which means Van City has as good a chance as any to progress to the Conference semis. But the final word here is that the “race to playoffs” for Canadian clubs was only ever meaningful because Toronto FC is a terrible, terrible soccer team. So don’t party yet, friends in the West. Give it the next three matches, if we get to that stage. Read the rest of this entry »
“Adding a player of Eric’s ability gives an immediate improvement to our club. He has had a lot of success in this league and we are pleased to bring him to Toronto.”
The Sarreguemines, France native has tallied 12 goals and 5 assists in 44 appearances for the Whitecaps after arriving from FC Zurich for the start of the 2011 season. The move helps fill the void created by the injury to Dutch striker Danny Koevermans.
A deal that was rumored to happen actually did – how bout that.