Sunday Morning Scribe: No Defence for Failure to Nguyen


Sunday morning early...much too early. Had to drop the wife off at YVR for a red-eye to Toronto before even the birds had had their morning constitutionals -- usually somewhere on my windshield. The coffee's flowing, but while my brain is busy trying to absorb enough caffeine to help me make it until noon, I'll dredge up some footy observations between the staccato chugging of my neighbour's 2.5 Hp Toro, and the lovely soothing drone of a pressure washer further down the street -- probably removing some of those stray "constitutionals" that happened to miss my car.

It's all fractured moments of clarity set among the usual mosaic of daily life -- as long as the picture doesn't look anything like a Picasso, I figure I'm ahead of the game.

Three things on my mind this morning, starting with the Whitecaps...

I'll admit it. I turned off the match. Yes, when the Vancouver Whitecaps went down 3-1 to the New England Revolution with a shade over 30 minutes on the clock, I decided to salvage the sweetness of the first summer evening we've had in these parts for, well...about a year now.

Besides, it's stored in all its 1080p glory on my PVR. I might even decide to watch the full match sometime this week, but I saw more than enough last night to last me a while. Suffice it to say that any post-match 360-degree feedback sessions should be based on just one question: "Would you like it in Fahrenheit, or Celsius?"

All indications were that this would be a close contest -- the Whitecaps were on a roll, the squad was healthy, and had a much better record so far. But everyone knew that Martin Rennie's bucket would also be dipping deep into the Caps' well, as the match fell amid a hellish spell of four matches in 10 nights.

Yes, there was talk of Lee Nguyen wanting to show up his former team, but nobody on either side seriously expected the 4-1 pasting, underscored by Nguyen's two-goal performance.

Perhaps too focused on securing the Voyageur's Cup, maybe suffering from the disadvantage of playing as a selection cobbled together based on need rather than merit, and quite possibly simply underestimating the opposition -- but whatever the reason, the Caps best MLS showing of the season (vs San Jose) was followed by their worst last night.

If Rennie is to take away any insights from the match, it's that "Who is Carlyle Mitchell?" is the question to the answer "The only Whitecap to make Jordan Harvey look good." Yes, I understand that he's inexperienced. Yes, he's seen very limited playing time so far this season. And yes, if Jay DeMerit were to rest a match, this was the fixture to do it in. However, it's abundantly clear that the precipice that marks the distinction between DeMerit, Martin Bonjour, and young Mr. Mitchell is far steeper than had been anticipated.

It's definitely steeper than this team can afford. I'll need to review the match more carefully, and in a much better frame of mind, but from what I did see, none of the back four: Young-pyo Lee, Mitchell, Alain Rochat, or Harvey played particularly well -- either individually, or as a unit. By all accounts from those who lasted beyond 33', the Caps midfield turned in a lackluster performance as well.

I won't go into the match any further, other than to note that what started so well, and so early, morphed into a disaster with incredible speed.

Moving on to surprise number two, involving the Canadian Women's Olympic Team...

I got a heads up that the Canadian Women's Olympic Soccer Team would be training in Richmond at Hugh Boyd's grass oval (adjacent to No. 1 Rd) for the next two months in the run up to the Olympics in London this summer. I headed out there on Thursday to check it out -- making sure to arrive early so that I could take up a good vantage point.

I needn't have worried. Not counting the four or five kiddies who happened to be on site, and after discounting the three dogs panting in the sunshine, I'd guess that there were maybe a dozen people taking in the team practice. Canada's brightest hopes on the international soccer scene, and they garner only a handful of onlookers?? Under a summer sky when the NHL playoffs are but a distant (bad) memory, and there are more Olympic-qualifying heroines on the pitch than joe averages lining it -- well that's a very sad commentary indeed.

If you enjoy the game, and have the least bit of interest in the CWNT, these players deserve much more respect than that. They'll be at Hugh Boyd's grass field on the following dates and times:

Tuesdays 3-5 pm and Thursdays 4-6 pm until May 24; and then resuming that schedule again on June 5, until June 21 (exception: Tue June 12, 2-4 pm).

On the BC soccer front, some interesting news that's getting surprisingly little attention...

TSS Academy, based in Richmond, along with its parent company, Sportstown BC Holdings Ltd., has taken legal action against the BC Soccer Association in BC Supreme Court. The case could have broad ramifications in terms of what powers the BCSA can exercise, and how soccer clubs and soccer academies in BC and the rest of Canada operate. The Notice of Claim can be viewed in its entirety here.

Very interesting reading, particularly for those who might have a son or daughter enrolled in a pivate youth soccer academy. Some 47 items in the Statement of Facts, as claimed by the plaintiffs (TSS), with a brief summary of nature of claims on p. 15.

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