Left Coast By Design

First Impressions of the Whitecaps FC

Growing up in Vancouver as a player of the beautiful game, the Whitecaps (and by extension for a period of time, the 86ers) have always counted on me being a fan. I can’t say I’ve made it to as many games, having sporadically attended them when they played at Swangard Stadium, but I do remember attending one game when I was really young at Empire Stadium. So when the opportunity of becoming a seasons ticket holder for the inaugural season in the MLS presented itself, I spent money I didn’t really have and became one. Hurray for credit!

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Whitecaps FC – courtesy of RosieTulips

Unfortunately, I didn’t get an opportunity to attend the home opener against Toronto FC as I was in Vegas for a friend’s wedding – what a match to have missed! The ‘caps took it to the squad from the Big Smoke and triumphed with a 4-2 result under cooperative skies – all accounts had me hearing that Empire Field was the perfect venue for an ecstatic soccer crowd. So upon arrival for the second home match against Sporting Kansas City, I was pretty darn amped.

Presentation wise, the Whitecaps FC and Empire Field staff have done a tremendous job at outfitting the stadium. I would imagine they picked up a few pointers from the BC Lions past season, but mad props for putting together a welcoming venue – even the lineups for beer and food were manageable all things considered.

And then there was the match itself. Having grown up on the sport (played, officiated, and coached at various levels youth and adult), I have always understood that the result is not final until the last whistle is blown. Although the Whitecaps carried play for much of the first half, Sporting was able to notch a late marker during injury time to go up by one. Then early in the second half, two complete “brain farts” by the ‘caps set them down by three. Making matters worse, the traitor-some Teal Bunbury had scored those first two KC goals.

But as mentioned earlier, the match wasn’t over quite yet.

With head coach Teitur Thordarson (don’t make Teitur mad, you don’t want to see Teitur mad) sending in Davide Chiumiento and Nizar Khalfan late in the second, the substitutions began to go to work on what appeared to be a tired opposing back line. In the 73rd minute, Atiba Harris notched the ‘caps first goal of the day after Khalfan burned past the KC right back. Then in injury time, Camilo notched his first and second goals just a minute apart to tie the game. No word of a lie, I thought Empire Field was about to explode. I can’t begin to imagine what would have happened had Camilo been able to notch the hatty just a minute after that (his shot missed just high and wide).

I’ve seen comebacks before. But there’s something about the one I witnessed on Saturday that has me already jonesing for what may occur Wednesday night the New England Revolution. It was as close to magical as I can describe. In fact, if you weren’t there you missed something you’ll never see again.

So where will you be? Will you be with us at Empire Field? Buy a ticket, take the pledge, and make sure you’re in your seat before kickoff!

Categories: Sports

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9 Comments

  1. always been a fan, rarely had the opportunity to check out the Whitecaps/86ers live. with my kids playing soccer now, i’d like to take them to see a real match, and this re-affirms that notion for me!

    thanks for the post Chris!

    • If I thought hard enough, I could probably figure out how old I was when I
      first went to Empire Stadium back in the day, but the fact I even remember
      means it must have had some impact. Mind you, I also remember my Dad buying
      me a chocolate milk while we were there – maybe that’s why I also dig the
      brown cow, go figure.

      With tickets as affordable as they are, and the venue being top notch with
      epic scenery, you really need to get your family out for a match!

  2. Had no idea you were such a passionate soccer fan, Chris. I bet you’re glad you didn’t leave that game early!

    I’m heading to my first MLS game on Wednesday and really looking forward to it. After watching some of the games at Swangard over the years, I’ve gained an appreciation for soccer I’d never had before. I only played soccer in PE where my fondest memory is of goaltending and kicking the ball upfield…. well, up over my head and behind me. It was a spectacular failure. Nice to see that we can make a good go of having some of the best soccer on the continent in Vancouver.

  3. Had no idea you were such a passionate soccer fan, Chris. I bet you’re glad you didn’t leave that game early!

    I’m heading to my first MLS game on Wednesday and really looking forward to it. After watching some of the games at Swangard over the years, I’ve gained an appreciation for soccer I’d never had before. I only played soccer in PE where my fondest memory is of goaltending and kicking the ball upfield…. well, up over my head and behind me. It was a spectacular failure. Nice to see that we can make a good go of having some of the best soccer on the continent in Vancouver.

  4. Had no idea you were such a passionate soccer fan, Chris. I bet you’re glad you didn’t leave that game early!

    I’m heading to my first MLS game on Wednesday and really looking forward to it. After watching some of the games at Swangard over the years, I’ve gained an appreciation for soccer I’d never had before. I only played soccer in PE where my fondest memory is of goaltending and kicking the ball upfield…. well, up over my head and behind me. It was a spectacular failure. Nice to see that we can make a good go of having some of the best soccer on the continent in Vancouver.

    • I’ve definitely been a fan of the sport, but have probably not been a good
      enough fan of the team until recently. And yes, I completely ecstatic that
      I didn’t leave the game early unlike a few others I’ve heard about.

      Glad you’re giving the game another shot, even if it’s simply from the
      bleachers. I’ll look for you in section 220!

  5. My dad, brother and I would go to Whitecaps games as Seasons ticket holders in the NASL days. First at Empire Stadium and the BC Place. We saw a lot of soccer. My favourite player growing up was Tino Lettieri (spelling notwithstanding) as I played keeper as a lad. My bro was a midfielder; he was more athletic than I. Although he is 2 years older, we played on the same team. I now have daughters of my own and they have no interest in soccer, much to my chagrin. To have a legitimate pro soccer team back in vancouver makes me “as giddy as a school girl.” I just hope I can go with somw folks who have the same enthusiasm as I do.

    Chris, your blogpost has evoked some very fond memories for and for that I thank you very much. I also appreciate the easily read and attention grabbing qualities of your writngs.

    Regards,

    Paul

  6. My dad, brother and I would go to Whitecaps games as Seasons ticket holders in the NASL days. First at Empire Stadium and the BC Place. We saw a lot of soccer. My favourite player growing up was Tino Lettieri (spelling notwithstanding) as I played keeper as a lad. My bro was a midfielder; he was more athletic than I. Although he is 2 years older, we played on the same team. I now have daughters of my own and they have no interest in soccer, much to my chagrin. To have a legitimate pro soccer team back in vancouver makes me “as giddy as a school girl.” I just hope I can go with somw folks who have the same enthusiasm as I do.

    Chris, your blogpost has evoked some very fond memories for and for that I thank you very much. I also appreciate the easily read and attention grabbing qualities of your writngs.

    Regards,

    Paul

  7. Having read this, it has made me increase my want to attend a game or two this season. Thanks for an excellent, well-written post. See you there sometime this year!

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