For a team heading into 2014 with a ton of question marks, the Vancouver Whitecaps sure impressed the hell out of me on Saturday. During their season opening victory over the New York Red Bulls, the Whitecaps showed a killer instinct, a desire to take the match away and never look back, something that was desperately lacking under previous Head Coach Martin Rennie.
Plus, they scored four goals; given that their best goal scorer from last season flew the coop, that was very nice to see. Even better, they scored two more goals than the Vancouver Canucks, who pumped an embarrassing 14 shots at rookie Calgary Flames netminder Joni Ortio, clinging on for an incredibly boring 2 to 1 win on the same night.
Here's the thing; the Canucks' struggles are well documented in Vancouver this season. Even a casual fan is very aware that the once-vaunted Canucks are now a shell of their former selves, and that the exciting, high-octane offense fans are used to seeing has become a slow, plodding mess.
While the Canucks barely won against a bad Flames team, the Whitecaps rose to the occasion, and clobbered the defending Supporter's Shield winners in a thoroughly entertaining match. We saw beautiful goals from Kenny Miller and Sebastian Fernandez, and something we haven't seen in this town for months; a confident, energetic team.
Bottom line; the Canucks not only suck, they're boring. Really, really boring. So boring that the Flames/Canucks match-up, which used to produce classic hockey games, was abysmal. With the local hockey team down and out for the first time in years, the Whitecaps need to seize the opportunity and show the city of Vancouver, and the rest of the Province, that this is a team and league worth watching.
When the NHL lost an entire season back in 2004/05 due to the lockout, it was the BC Lions that benefited the most. The city re-discovered their love for the CFL team, and attendance rose. Really, it was terrific for the entirety of the league, as sports-starved Canadians started spending all that money earmarked for NHL games and merchandise elsewhere. Why couldn't it happen again, only this time, in the favor of MLS?
Have you ever tried to convert someone to soccer? You're always going to hear, 'soccer is boooooring,' or, 'there's not enough scoring.' Well, I dare you to find one fan that would call the Canucks a more exciting team than the Whitecaps right now. Furthermore, in their last three games, the Canucks have scored three goals. The Whitecaps scored four on Saturday.
Past that, the Canucks have been getting hammered in the press lately. With the recent trade of Roberto Luongo, and the lack of movement for Ryan Kesler, many are questioning the leadership and long-term vision of the club. Long story short (too late), the Canucks are out of favor in the city of Vancouver, and who knows for how long? While the Whitecaps are a popular team in this city, evidenced from the sellout, 21,000 strong crowd that turned out for the season opener, they could be number one. Hopefully they make some hay out of this situation, because who knows when they may get an opportunity like this again?
So in short, watch the Whitecaps. Our stars actually score.