Today is Saturday, and the Vancouver Whitecaps are not playing.
What a relief it must be. The senior men's team has been playing every Saturday and every Wednesday of every week since April 23, without two consecutive games in the same city. Home to Dallas, at Montreal, at Columbus, home to Montreal, at Chicago, home to San Jose, at New England, home to Toronto. Only once did they even play two consecutive games in the same time zone. You will be unsurprised to hear that their record in this stretch was pretty poor, and frankly I don't think I can bring myself to count it all up and see just how bad it is.
I've said before that fixture congestion can be a bit overrated as a problem, but flying across North America twice a week is anything but. That's just awful. I'd find that tough enough if I didn't have to play ninety minutes of fierce athletic competition at a stretch. But that's the way the schedule crumbles when the Canadian Soccer Association and Major League Soccer both need to squeeze their fixtures in; complaining won't do any good.
Still. The MLS powers-that-be have given the Whitecaps a valuable respite today, as they've enjoyed a few days off and can now get back into training with full gas tanks. Our opponents next Wednesday, Toronto FC, aren't nearly as lucky. They're playing in Colorado on Sunday, the poor stiffs, before flying back to Toronto and BMO Field on Wednesday. When I think about how the Whitecaps could possibly have any chance to win outright in Toronto, I have trouble imagining it. But that's at least a promising indication: the advantage of a full week's rest vs. three days.
Not that the whole organization gets the day off, of course. For example, the Whitecaps Residency team is on their way to Victoria, British Columbia as I type this, to take on the Highlanders at an irritatingly-scheduled Saturday night game (a few Southsiders, including myself, are braving the rain and a ferry packed full of smelly people to catch the game, so that should be interesting).
And the women are playing on Sunday as well, at home to the Seattle Sounders in their first home game of the 2011 W-League season. Well, when I say "at home", I mean "at Percy Perry Stadium", which is in Coquitlam. Keen fans of geography will notice that Coquitlam is not in Vancouver, although it is at least "Vancouver-ish".
Still. The men are enjoying a day of rest, and with all respect to the ladies and the PDL, the men have really earned it. It might do them a world of good. Or it might simply delay our next, inevitable loss. Only Wednesday night will tell.