Live on TSN
The Vancouver Whitecaps leave Empire Field for the last time tonight. They have so little to play for: the playoffs long gone, the Wooden Spoon almost a certainty, just a second overall pick in the winter MLS SuperDraft as consolation for an expansion season wasted on the field. We can only hope that the team's mediocrity is as temporary as its stadium.
We can also hope the team rises to the historic occasion. Closing one chapter while simultaneously re-opening another.
The Seattle Sounders! It's been a long time since Vancouver hosted them in anger. The Cascadia Cup is still not out of our reach and the Whitecaps have both their road games out of the way, having played both Seattle and the Portland Timbers tough. They might be the third-best team out of the three but no Sounders or Timbers fan would be insane enough to think they can take this for granted.
Victory tonight (and at the BC Place opening against Portland) would make up for a lot. It would give me, as a fan, something to cling to. It wouldn't compensate for this dreary season where occasional flashes on the field have been compensated for with months of misery, but it would be something.
Alain Rochat is out for Vancouver with suspension. John Thorrington is injured; Peter Vagenas isn't. The team is short-handed as ever, although the Sounders are missing some key components as well. Vancouver's coming off some of their least inspiring soccer of the season and they're playing like a team that knows it's all over.
Well, there's still one trophy left for us to win. I don't know if the assortment of Americans and youngsters that make up Vancouver's lineup appreciate the Cascadia Cup, but maybe the thundering crowd will remind them.
As I type this, just before heading off to the game, there are black clouds rolling in over Vancouver. It would be an ominous sign but the Whitecaps have been under a cloud all season. It's appropriate. This is the atmosphere Vancouver's enjoyed all season: fierce fans, die-hard support, and the looming threat of immolation. It's questionable whether the thunder of the gods or the thunder of the fans will be the louder. Like all of Vancouver's atmosphere, good and bad, is gathering for one last throw of the dice before we get indoors.
If we're going to win, let's make it apocalyptic.