The good and the bad: Whitecaps win season opener

Jeff Vinnick

The Whitecaps won their third straight season opener on Saturday, so let's take a look at the good and the bad from the pitch.

The MLS Regular Season is here, and the Whitecaps started in great fasion, disposing of Toronto FC 1-0 on the strength of a Gershon Koffie goal. There were some surprising lineup decisions, some questions answered and even more posed, so let's take a look.

THE GOOD: Perhaps he's just motivated to prove everyone wrong, but Kenny Miller looked absolutely fantastic. The guy was all over the pitch, showing the creativity and smart decisions that's truly expected of him. He didn't score, but if this was a preview performance, then Miller might be feeling a lot less heat this season.

Many questioned whether Daigo Kobayashi could handle the physicality of MLS play, but he was another pleasant surprise. The Whitecaps were looking for someone to replace the creativity of Davide Chiumiento, and Kobayashi did just that.

Speaking of creativity, how about Nigel Reo-Coker's first appearance as a 'Cap? The minute he got on the pitch as a substitute, it looked like the 'Caps were given an injection of swagger. Reo-Coker was involved in almost every offensive foray, and his first passes out of the zone were always on the money. While you can't judge a man's mental state by one contest, did anyone see who the first to congratulate Gershon Koffie was after the goal? It was Nigel Reo-Coker, literally jumping on the guy's back, before running to salute the fans. True, we can't say that Reo-Coker is a great teammate because he celebrates with his teammates, but it looked like he's already gelled pretty well with the new personalities in the locker room. Besides, how good did that midfield look, with the chemistry flowing between Koffie, Kobayashi and Reo-Coker. They're going to be fun to watch.

Lastly, Joe Cannon got the start over Brad Knighton and pitched a shutout, not bad for a guy who lost the job last season. I really thought Knighton would be the guy moving forward, but it's clearly Cannon's job to lose now.

THE BAD: Let's get the obvious out of the way first; watching Jay Demerit need help to get off the pitch just 7 minutes in was a bad sight. Brad Rusin performed pretty well in his stead, but the loss of the Captain will be felt in the locker room, was well as out on the pitch.Let's hope he heals quickly.

Kekutah Manneh was surprisingly in the starting 11, with Camilo finding his butt firmly planted to the bench. Manneh looked a bit nervous and uncomfortable out there, understandable considering just how young he is. The bicycle kick he tried in his own zone? Classic example of a young guy trying to do too much. He did have his moments out there, but it will be a few matches at least before he truly finds his place.

Another surprise was Alain Rochat moving to right back, and Jun-Marques Davidson finding his way into the starting lineup, although it's hard to question lineup shuffles when the club wins.

STARTING LINEUP: 1 GK JOE CANNON, 12 DEF YP LEE, 6 DEF JAY DEMERIT (7' BRAD RUSIN), 40 DEF ANDY O'BRIEN, 4 DEF ALAIN ROCHAT, 27 MID JUN MARQUES DAVIDSON, 28 MID GERSHON KOFFIE, 14 MID DAIGO KOBAYASHI (76' ERIK HURTADO), MID 23 KEKUTAH MANNEH (45' NIGEL REO-COKER), MID 9 KENNY MILLER, FWD 11 DARREN MATTOCKS


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