The Vancouver Whitecaps are the first Canadian team to ever make the MLS postseason. They lost to Portland last weekend, but qualified when Seattle beat Dallas. Bill spoke with Vancouver Sun columnist Iain MacIntyre about Vancouver’s achievements and prospects in the playoffs.
Q: The Whitecaps are based in Canada, but there are no Canadian players on the team, correct?
A: That’s right, it’s a Scottish coach, there’s a Canadian team president, of course, and a lot of employees and a Canadian owner. Canadian players are at a premium. There aren’t a whole lot of them, and to get them on your team you basically have to bid what they could be making from the European clubs. In most cases that’s at another level. They’ve made a conscious decision, rather than overpaying to try to get established Canadian players now, they’re going to develop their own. So there are players on the way but it is a little bit embarrassing for the team right now that they don’t have any Canadians in their lineup.
Q: Does the fact that the Whitecaps needed help from the Seattle Sounders to make the playoffs matter at all to Vancouver fans?A: I think it actually matters quite a bit, because this was the Whitecaps’ last home game. They have qualified for the playoffs. But it’s going to be a very difficult game for them to win in Los Angeles. This was a chance for a sell-out crowd of 21,000 people to celebrate a significant achievement for the club, not just as the first Canadian team to make the MLS playoffs, but just to make the playoffs one season after finishing dead last.
It would have been a chance for players to hear that celebration, it would have been a real feel good moment for soccer. Instead of the players hearing cheers from 21,000 people, it was about six reporters hearing cheers from a few dozen members of the Whitecaps staff. So yes, I think it does matter that Vancouver backed in and didn’t get in the way they wanted to.
Q: Vancouver must beat the L.A. Galaxy to advance in the playoffs. Do you like their chances?
A: There’s always a chance when you’re talking about a one game playoff. Out of all the opponents Vancouver could have drawn, the L.A. Galaxy is probably the least appealing to them, just because Vancouver has never played well there, and on top of that, they have only one win in their last 10 games. It’s hard to make a case that they’re in form and poised, typically if you’re an underdog, you want to be an underdog and have a chance with one win, rather than having to win twice.