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Let’s Remember Some Guys

Vancouver Whitecaps FC v Toronto FC Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images

One of the effects of the coronavirus is that nothing is happening. Well, maybe that’s not quite accurate. Quite a lot is happening. We are in the midst of an historic event that future generations will read about. Coronavirus is forcing everything about our society to be restructured and revealing who and what really keeps it running. Despite Francis Fukuyama’s protests to the contrary, history carries on. But in our personal lives, nothing is happening (so long as you’re a middle class fail son like me and not a minimum wage worker suddenly thrust into the role of a vital worker on the frontline of a pandemic). There are no sports, no new films being released in theatres, no public events of any kind. With nothing new happening, we are left with no choice but to go back. Lots of people are filling their time watching old soccer games. I don’t know what it is about this that doesn’t appeal to me but so far I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. Something I have been able to do, however, is remember some guys. I am always fond of remembering guys, even when there isn’t a global pandemic on. Following an MLS team, with all the league’s drafts and strange machinations, gives you lots of opportunities to remember guys. So let’s do just that.

In the past I have done some deep dives on where Whitecaps of years past are now. This is not that. I will not be doing any googling or social media stalking. This is simply a list of obscure guys who I remember.

Some of the best types of guys to remember are University players who get drafted while being totally unprepared for being a minor public figure. One guy who stands out in this regard is Christopher Hellmann. Hellmann never played for the Whitecaps but he did capture fan’s attention by having a twitter profile picture that showed him in a suit sucking on a cigar. Not exactly an egregious crime, but very funny.

A classic guy to remember is Tiago Ulises. Part of the army of guys Martin Rennie signed and then never played. Why would you bring in a player all the way from Brazil and then never play him? I guess we’ll never know.

Another interesting player from that era who never played, and in fact was never signed, was Damian Batt. Batt suddenly appeared on our radars when he tweeted out a picture of BC place with the caption “looks like this will be my new home for football.” This naturally lead us to the conclusion that he had been signed. As it turned out Batt, who had last played in league 2, was only on a trial and made just a handful of reserve appearances for the ‘Caps. But I have to admire the hubris of being a league 2 player and thinking you’ll just walk into an MLS side.

Since he’s the thumbnail for this article we should spend some time on Blake Wagner. Wagner, on one magical night, scored a hat trick at Swangard Stadium. He was then a not particularly impressive MLS backup left back. But we will always have that night.

Speaking of 2011 Whitecaps, I don’t think we remember Greg Janicki enough. He wasn’t that great in MLS, though he was hardly the worst defender on the 2011 team. My enduring memory of him is from a night at Swangard when he played most of the match with a bandage around his head.

Thinking of towering centre backs who played for the Whitecaps at Swangard got me reminiscing about Omar Jarun. Our very large Palestinian son never looked very assured, except when paired with Canadian veteran Chris Pozniak.

This next guy who I remember wasn’t so much a Whitecaps player as he was an associated act. Aminu Abdallah trained with several big European clubs but still never managed to catch on with the Whitecaps. Although he never played a game for the Whitecaps I seem to remember he stayed around for a weirdly long time. Then his career never really went anywhere as far as I can tell. I guess there’s a reason all those European teams he trained with didn’t sign him.

Alex Marfaw played only a handful of Whitecaps games between USL and MLS but he approved me as a follower on his locked twitter account. Salute to a king.

Despite the 2011 team’s poor results on the pitch, there were a lot of lovable players on that team. Thinking of Morfaw got me thinking of Jeb Brovsky and Kevin Harmse; Two midfielders who never saw a shin they didn’t want to kick.

As I searched for a player to make an even dozen of guys remembered, a name came to me that I hadn’t thought of in years. Gordon Chin. Chin was a mainstay in the Whitecaps’ midfield for one season and then was never really heard from again. Back in the USL days that would happen a lot. A player would be around, he would seem pretty decent, and then suddenly for no discernable reason he would fall off the map. Of course I was in elementary school back then and didn’t follow as obsessively so maybe this is just a trick of the mind but it really did seem like players would just vanish back then. Anyway; chin chinery chin chinery chin chin cheroo, we love our Godon He’s five-foot-two!

Good times. Why don’t you join me in the remembrance of guys in the comment section. After all, you have the time.