In what I hope to be a reoccurring weekly piece (time permitting; Ben's been late late on his salary payments, so for now I have to keep my real job,) I would like to introduce Two Up, Two Down. This segment will be a chance to give thumbs up or thumbs down as I highlight the highs and lows of the week that was, revolving around the Whitecaps. I'm sure some Canadian soccer, world soccer, and all things sport will creep in as significant events arise (or when I get lazy.)
So, without further ado, the first installment of Two Up, Two Down.
THUMBS UP: Bryce Alderson
The young bleach-blonde Canadian has made the jump from Whitecaps Residency U18 to MLS first team look easy. While he has had the benefit on being surrounded by a team playing in form, Alderson has been a stand out in virtually every minute played in preseason. His composure with the ball has been excellent, rarely losing possession, and has been one of the real work horses in his own third making it difficult on opposition. While it is absolutely shocking that Toronto FC technical staff didn't even know who Bryce Alderson was, even the likes of Managing Editor Benjamin Massey must be surprised with Alderson's sudden ascent. Of course, Alderson is still 18, so there will be struggles to come, but all indications now are that Alderson's very bright future is not in as distant a future as originally thought.
THUMBS UP: Peter Schaad & Whitecaps Media Coverage
We truly are spoiled in Vancouver, as much as we sometimes hate to admit it. While MLS is a very clear #3 with most media outlets, the media coverage that the Whitecaps get must be applauded. While the Caps have yet to really permeate the generic sports shows, there is a lot of soccer specific coverage to choose from. Each and every Whitecaps game in high definition (even in Oregon, certain Timbers matches weren't available on basic packages last season,) and a daily soccer show on radio hosted by the well connected, intelligent, and talented Peter Schaad. It's been a pleasure being able to listen to the Whitecaps FC Daily podcasts every evening (even running throughout the offseason!) Peter Schaad has kept me up to date on news and rumours, provided quality interviews, and quenched my thirst for Whitecaps chatter even in the dead of off season. Add in the 2 hour long Fulltime Soccer show on Sundays, Whitecaps post-games, and the various high quality sports reporters and bloggers out there, and Whitecaps supporters have media coverage to rival any market in North America.
THUMBS DOWN: Salary Guessing Games
One of the most entertaining parts of following a team is playing armchair manager, dissecting completed moves and anticipating future signings. It is on this point that the MLS fails miserably.
Lee Nguyen was waived a couple days ago, and there is some speculation that the decision was at least partly due to salary concerns. Unfortunately, we wont know for months, as the MLS conducts half of the leagues business behind closed doors with zero transparency for fans.
Whitecaps supporters are now abuzz over the possibility of Carlos Bocanegra landing in Vancouver, but they are unable to make even a realistic guess on salary numbers, meaning that instead of getting out the calculator and figuring out which cuts need to be made, fans have nothing more to do but sit on their hands and hope a sketchy British tabloid leaks some more rumours.
THUMBS DOWN: Season Ticket Question Marks
Perhaps this is a premature thumb down. Perhaps we'll show up March 10th, and the place will be packed. Actually, I wont be surprised if it is packed on March 10th, there should be plenty of walk up sales, but come the middle of April when the Whitecaps are playing Sporting KC will we still see good numbers?
I'm quite concerned that there has not been even a peep out of the front office about season ticket renewals. Portland was essentially an instant sell out, Seattle is expanding even more, and Toronto is selling out Rogers Centre (even though it's likely on the back of thousands of screaming teenagers and soccer moms lusting after Becks.)
I will be pleasantly surprised if the season ticket renewal is around 14,000, and quite honestly, if it is, perhaps it would be a smart move by Bobby Lenarduzzi to just shut up and let the butts in seats and on field product do the talking this season, as last seasons promises of grandeur left an bitter taste in the mouth of supporters. As my Dad always used to tell me, "It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think your stupid than to open it and remove all doubt." Perhaps the Duze has learned from last season.