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Thursday Morning Blitz Chess! Catching up on the West

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Not even faintly relevant. I just like the picture.
Not even faintly relevant. I just like the picture.

Now. Where were we?

(Sorry for the unplanned week off. Personal issues + illness = blogging becomes difficult. If you didn't see it, I did manage a post-game for the New England snoozefest on the Score's Footy Blog but that was even more aggressively phoned-in than usual. I like the Facebook "one person likes this" notification at the top because it sure ain't me.)

Anyway, spend long enough without writing anything and stuff is bound to happen. Not much stuff, I mean; this is the middle of the season. There haven't even been rumours that the Vancouver Whitecaps might sign a decaying former Premier League player to an obnoxiously long contract. Eric Hassli hasn't gotten his ass sent off in weeks. And Philippe Davies was spotted on the bench for the New England Revolution match, allowing me to call the police and tell them "never mind".

Well, I've got to write something. So, after the jump, a formulaic catch-up piece on, um, what little news there was in Western Canadian soccer since last Saturday.

Sadly for my attempt to fill this space, there wasn't much actual Whitecaps news beyond the usual "hey, did you hear who's injured" which inevitably clutters my pages. The women's team signed Tseng Shu-O, Malloree Enoch, Kelsey Hood, Krista Kruse, and Alysha Bonnick, none of whom I've heard of. They also announced the return of a few Canadians last week of whom the most important is probably international Monica Lam-Feist. I'd say that they seem to be shaping up as a good team once again for the 2011 season but, again, I have no idea who most of those players are.

The Residency team was in action, taking the field in anger for the first time this year at the Dallas Cup. Vancouver has sent a U-19 team to the elite Super Group of one of the world's most prestigious international youth tournaments for several years and generally acquitted themselves well, if not brilliantly. Unfortunately, the Residency had a disappointing performance for the second year in a row: they lost 2-0 to the Real Salt Lake Academy and Tigres of Mexico, with the only consolation being a 3-2 victory over Brazil's Corinthians Paulista that featured a hat trick from Canadian U-20 international Ben Fisk.

With three goals scored and six conceded, the Whitecaps Residency finished last in group C. It's hard to draw conclusions from a three-game tournament (many of the Whitecaps Residency defensive players like Derrick Bassi and Adam Polakiewicz, as well as goalkeepers Brian Sylvestre and Callum Irving, have proven their quality in previous tournaments but didn't have a great time in this one). Still, it has to be considered a letdown. Also, annoyingly for those of us who hate the English Premier League, the Arsenal U-19 team kicked ass in the group stage. It was just a bad tournament all around.

I've been talking about youth and women's teams, but I should also mention the western Canadian juggernaut that may be playing its first season in their new professional league but have picked up a bag full of points despite some injury problems and have convinced previously-skeptical league observers that they're for real. I am, of course, referring to FC Edmonton.

FC Edmonton is, on winning percentage, currently the top professional team in Canada with a record of two wins and one loss in three games, all on the road. Not that they're all that good, I must admit. They opened with a 2-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, formerly Miami FC. The Strikers have been pegged to finish in the upper half of the league this year thanks to a few promising additions, but what people forget is that they're still the same old Miami FC. No matter what name they are and what city they play in, Miami FC sucks forever. It's an immutable law. A 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks last Saturday was pretty distinguished, but Atlanta is the consensus worst team in the league.

Yesterday, FC Edmonton (I'm torn on whether to call them "the FCs" or "FCs the") went into a desolate WakeMed Soccer Center in Cary, North Carolina and went down in flames, 2-0. It wasn't a universally terrible game; Edmonton had some decent chances, particularly off the foot of journeyman Conrad Smith. But they didn't bury them and they gave up far more than they got, including a remarkable three Carolina breakaways.

Well, that game was always going to be the coming-back-to-earth game. Carolina, unlike Fort Lauderdale or Miami, is good at soccer. They beat the Montreal Impact on the weekend and that's hard to do. It's midweek and the Railhawks have always had a formidable home field advantage, not because of their raucous fans (of whom there were about seven on Wednesday) but because of their city's isolation and their parochial stadium. If you asked any FC Edmonton fan whether they'd like to be 2-0-1 after three games with the loss being in Carolina, they'd have taken it in a heartbeat.

Finally, I'd like to throw some big ups to you guys for putting some content on this website while I've been gone: Russell Berrisford had his now-traditional weekly Whitecaps poll, CanadianSteel gave his opinion on the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, and NS_Cix was a busy beaver with a fanshot on the Amazing Disappearing Midfielder and an optimistic look at MLS's place in the world. If you haven't given them a read, you should (and if you don't know, you can look in the "FanPosts" and "FanShots" columns on the right-hand side of the page to see these things when I'm on the disabled list).

And that's all I've got. Now. If you'll excuse me, I'm having a nap.