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Vancouver - Montreal Post-Game: Ninety Minutes Hate

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I can't believe there was a time when I didn't hate these bastards. (Benjamin Massey/Eighty Six Forever)
I can't believe there was a time when I didn't hate these bastards. (Benjamin Massey/Eighty Six Forever)

I hate everything.

I hate the Montreal Impact. I hate that dirty piece of trash Nevio Pizzolitto, who spent ninety minutes charging around fouling everything that moved and getting away with it. I hate Leonardo di Lorenzo, who dove so rampantly the Swangard Stadium pitch has midfielder-shaped indents in it. I hate Adam Braz, who is Adam Braz and only gets more revolting as he gets older. I particularly hate David Testo for putting his shoulder down, going full speed, and shoulder-charging Terry Dunfield from behind in a play that would have gotten you kicked off a CFL field but in the NASL merits only a yellow card, balanced out by giving Dunfield one as well. I even hate Eduardo Sebrango, and I hate to hate a guy like that.

I hate referee Justin Tasev, whose solution to rough play from both Vancouver and Montreal was to let Montreal get away with almost anything but show cards willy-nilly to the Whitecaps if they ever dared to try and defend themselves. I hate the fact that even though the Impact were taking liberties with the Whitecaps all game, even though Montreal was called for fourteen fouls to Vancouver's twelve, it was Vancouver that took all the cards and had Gershon Koffie shown straight red for, as far as I could see, nothing at all.

I hate the Vancouver Whitecaps for controlling the play, bossing the Montreal Impact around for most of the game, and still losing 1-0. This is a team that is almost built to lose in the playoffs. A bunch of players who have no idea what to do with each other, a few absolutely terrible guys getting run out just to see what they have for 2011 even though they are complete wastes of carbon. The few (very few) genuine talents left to essentially play by themselves. What could there possibly be to like?

When I rode the SkyTrain home, there was a guy next to me who I thought was French but was just drunk. He asked me "what do we have? What do we really have here?" I thought "I have here a profound desire to throw myself in front of the next train and take you with me." I hate everything.

I can't not talk about the refereeing. I don't want to blame it for the Whitecaps losing, for the Whitecaps very much did that by themselves. But it was a genuine no-holds-barred disgrace. Vancouver and Montreal is a rare rivalry where the players are as intense rivals as the fans, and if a referee wants to take control in that environment he should be ruthless but fair, be cynical about dives, and treat both teams harshly; letting each of them know that their crap will not be tolerated.

Justin Tasev did not do that. The Montreal Impact seemed to have made it their priority to paralyze Terry Dunfield: in addition to the charging tackle by Testo in the second half already mentioned, Antonio Ribeiro took a yellow card for rearing his head back and headbutting Dunfield brutally; a foul that sent Dunfield down in a heap and, while being helped off the field, had the Manchester City product glowering back at Ribeiro with a look that constituted an engraved invitation for a post-game meeting in the parking lot. Dunfield also gave as good as he got to be fair: he tackles firmly (though, unlike Adam Braz, he only tackles players who have the ball) and is perfectly willing to stand up for his teammates. I love Terry Dunfield.

In my book, both Testo and Ribeiro earned straight red for their attacks. But the only red card was handed out to Whitecaps midfield Gershon Koffie, a sending off for a late but not negligent sliding tackle late in the game. Reflecting back on it, I can see giving Koffie a foul for the tackle but not even a yellow card, to say nothing of a straight red. Tasev was pretty clearly guessing by that point; trying to maintain order without having any clear idea what was going on and hoping that a show of authority however arbitrary would win him respect from the players.

I should probably talk about the Whitecaps' actual play at some point, because as frustrating as the officiating was it didn't cost us three points. The Whitecap starter I was most concerned about, emergency right back Ethan Gage, was actually excellent: the Impact were never for an instant able to get traction down the right flank and he moved the ball with his accustomed calmness. It was a pleasant treat from a young man who's struggled for playing time. That was probably the only pleasant surprise we had, though.

It's becoming a broken record, but the strikers are killing us. Cody Arnoux had one neat diving header back to Blake Wagner that would leave Vancouver with a half-chance, but apart from that he was once again inept. Ridge Mobulu was athletic and gave Montreal's defense fits but his finishing let him down. He had the clearest chance from either team when he caught the ball on a Terry Dunfield feed past the top of the box one-on-one with Matt Jordan at a perfect angle, but struck the ball straight into the Montreal goalkeeper. Randy Edwini-Bonsu was a spark plug and his entry in the eighty-third minute, while far too late, at least gave the Whitecaps some energy. But Jonathan McDonald was terrible. Again. Not only has McDonald never had a single game for the Whitecaps that could even aspire to being "decent", he hasn't had a single good play, a single useful minute, one fleeting moment where I could think to myself "there might be a good player hidden in there". He may be the worst player I've ever seen play professionally, and I saw the Edmonton Aviators.

Unfortunately, Alex Elliott had his second rough game in a row. Coming on as a substitute for the generally effective Blake Wagner, Elliott got off on the wrong foot again by striking a cross almost out of the north end of the stadium. That was it for Elliott's inaccuracy, but he was unable to get involved in the play when the Whitecaps desperately needed some intensity and some creativity. Between Elliott and left back Willis Forko, who was caught flat-footed a couple of times and could not connect a ball more ambitious than a short pass to his centre back, the left side of the field was essentially a dead loss to Vancouver from the seventy-fifth minute on.

This is normally where I'd say that if Vancouver had Ali Gerba, we'd have been fine. Gerba, however, didn't amount to much in this game: a goal he seemed to have scored late in the first half was chalked off due to offside and for the most part Luca Bellisomo held Gerba in check. To Gerba's obvious frustration: in the second half every ball that failed to reach the big target striker caused a wave of the arms and a frustrated glower around the field at nothing in particular. When Gerba (slowly) walked off the field in favour of ex-Whitecap Wesley Charles, Ali almost seemed relieved.

Looking on the bright side, Davide Chiumiento made his long-awaited debut for Vancouver and looked pretty good. His first touch of the ball was a free kick that forced Matt Jordan into a marvelous diving save. He tore around the field, trying to do a little too much himself but with almost enough skill to justify it. If he can get used to his teammates and begin to connect with them rather than operating as a soloist, he'll be magnificent: otherwise, he risks becoming a Dwayne De Rosario type who is never as valuable as his skill suggests he should be. On the other hand, that's still not a bad player to have and Chiumiento certainly terrified the Impact defense in his half-hour.

I'm trying to end on a high note, which is a difficult thing to do after such a dispiriting game. But Chiumiento looks like someone who might live up to the hype, and after disappointments like Cody Arnoux and Jonathan McDonald, that would sure be nice.

Game Ball: the honour this week goes to Luca Bellisomo for another game of absolutely fault-free defense, this time against the best striker in the North American second division. Strangling Ali Gerba is by no means an easy thing to do but Bellisomo pulled it off, particularly in the second half when Montreal was bearing down hard on the counter and Gerba was in primte position to poach one. Bellisomo was also the only Whitecaps defender apart from Gage who seemed to have any desire to connect passes consistently. Bravo, Luca.

Most Disappointing: oh, boy, a lot of contenders for this one. Jonathan McDonald was the worst Whitecap, as he always is, but he only played twenty-three minutes and considering that everyone knows how terrible he is I'm not sure he counts as a disappointment anymore. In the end, I'm giving this "award" to left back Willis Forko, who actually has been a disappointment. Perhaps it's simply nerves and a lack of chemistry but Forko seems addicted to playing it "safe": short passes, no runs, no ambition, which of course means he puts the Whitecaps in a great deal of danger when his "safe" plays fail to clear the Vancouver half. He also got turned a couple of times, including once in the second half when he got caught utterly flat-footed and let Gerba behind him to get nearly his best chance of the game before the pass just ran long. Dear Teitur Thordarson: you have a great USSF D2-level left back, his name is Zurab Tsiskaridze, start playing him until his heart explodes.

Next Up: if current trends continue, the Whitecaps will lose to the Portland Timbers at Swangard Stadium on Saturday, October 2, 2010. This will be Vancouver's last regular season match in the second division and the last regular season encounter at Swangard Stadium, although of course we'll have at least one home playoff date after that.