It was a delight to see the Vancouver Whitecap Reserves in Victoria today for the seventh repetition of this annual friendly which Island football fans have come to anticipate. I was really looking forward to seeing some of the players whom I have not yet watched play or who have been recently signed by the club and I was not disappointed at all. The match was pretty much what you would expect from a reserve side playing a University squad and I think that UVic should be thanked for the spirited and energetic opposition they provided in the face of a clearly more talented and skillful Whitecap side. They were quick and energetic right to the end and several Vikes were especially noticeable including diminutive wide man Nicholas Mavrikos (10), Andrew Ravenhill (17) and keeper Elliot Mitrou who made some fine saves apart from the ball he spilled into the path of Tom Heinemann (29) who easily slotted home for the third and final goal of the match.
Overall, the Whitecaps played like a group who were each trying to impress themselves upon Tom Rennie who watched from the sidelines. The energy and cohesiveness picked up as the match progressed but right up until the end players were prone to holding the ball a tad too long individually as they tried to show to their best. That being said, there were enough of the nice passing sequences which I, for one, hope will become a trademark of this edition of VWFC. In particular I noticed and enjoyed the play of Matt Watson (8), Aminu Abdallah (20) and Russel Tiebert (31). Camillo (7) was solid at the front and served up pretty much what we have come to expect from him - flair and flash with a bit of "whoops'" at the end on occasion. He also had a goal and an assist to balance the "whoops" so a solid afternoon all round from Camiilo. Erik Hurtado (19), roaming far and wide across the pitch, delivered what we have seen from him in his two appearance off the bench this season; speed, skill and a bit more of the "whoops" at the end although his goal was the result of some very, very skillful footwork in close quarters on the edge of Victoria's penalty area at the thirty-eighth minute. I was also fascinated by Tom Heinemann who looked untidy, was a bit cavalier with the ball but also was alert in taking his goal when the opportunity presented itself in the Victoria box where he seemed to appear fairly regularly throughout his forty minutes of time on the field. I thought that Omar Salgado looked as though he was not fully fit and was a little sluggish at times but at other times he made some wonderful slashing, diagonal runs into the Vikes defense that make me really look forward to him being fully up to speed and doing what I dearly hope that he will do for the starting eleven before too much longer.
It was a chilly but sunny day in Victoria and the surface seemed a little greasy with many players and the occasional linesman losing their footing but it was a treat to see the Vancouver Whitecaps in their Arbutus Brown strip (which I believe that I am almost alone in liking) so close to home.
It was an additional treat to see and hear a little group of flag waving, singing, chanting traveling supporters at one end of the pitch. Their commitment and love for the Whitecaps is inspiring and entertaining. The remainder of a crowd of 2,600 cheered lustily for both sides and nobody seemed unhappy with the result.
Thank you Whitecaps and UVic Vikes for an entertaining afternoon.
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