In my opinion, one of the hardest things for an athlete or team to do in sports is to break out of that rut when things aren't going your way and bounce back to success. In England’s soccer circles, they have even coined the term ‘bouncebackability’ – being able to find it somewhere within yourself to turn things around for the better and improve performance or end a losing streak.
For us Whitecaps, we were able to do that this weekend against Dallas. Over the previous two games against San Jose and Kansas City, we’d found ourselves not only on the losing end, but had also given up three goals in each game. That was out of character for us, considering we hadn't even let in a goal in over our four previous games.
In preparation for the Dallas game, our manager asked us to find the character to get our season back on track and get those three points that had eluded us for in the those previous two games.
It was fantastic to see us respond as a unit and battle our way to a 1-0 win at our home stadium in front of our own fans. 1-0 games aren’t always the prettiest to watch, but walking off the field knowing that as a group we kept a clean sheet and managed to find a goal to get us back on track was a great feeling. We’d found our bouncebackability!
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One of our main goals this season as a team is to turn BC Place into a fortress, making our home stadium a place that no one wants to come and play at. We will work hard to keep building towards that and make sure our fans keep going home happy.
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the band members from Coldplay. They were playing a show in town at the weekend and one of the things the band always likes to do when they arrive in a new city is to have a kick around with their road crew. There were probably about 20 of them all playing a pickup game at BC Place. I didn’t spot any potential first-team starters for the Whitecaps!
The club made up a few jerseys with the band members’ names on them, and asked me if I would come down and present them. It was nice to chat and talk about our different worlds. The band members are all from England and big soccer fans. Will Champion, the band’s drummer, is a Southampton fan, so he was giving me a little bit of grief for scoring on them back when I played with Watford!
The guys were also telling me how they had just played in Brazil, where they got to have a kick-around with Ronaldo…Ronaldo! My ego quickly evaporated! Haha! Luckily, they softened the blow by graciously offering me some tickets to their show the next night. I have to say it was amazing. Even if you’re not a huge fan, Coldplay really are undeniably incredible showmen. Everyone in the stadium seemed to walk out with smiles on their faces. And that’s exactly what I like to see!
On a sad note, a good friend and former teammate of mine named Patrick Grange recently passed away after an 18-month fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
I had played college ball with Pat for a year at UIC and a few years ago he came to England to stay with me in London and follow his dream of playing professional soccer. We instantly reconnected our bond from our college years. Even though Pat was only supposed to stay for a few weeks, he ended up staying three months. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for him with soccer in Europe, but those three months were truly great times.
Devastatingly, in late 2010 Pat was diagnosed with ALS – also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Even worse, it was an accelerated form of the disease, so it took hold of his body pretty quickly.
ALS has no known cure, but there have been studies linking it to soccer players. A former coach of mine in England named Del Deanus was also diagnosed with the disease only a couple of years earlier. To have two close friends – and soccer players – be diagnosed with ALS so close together, these scientists may be on to something.
During the last year and a half of his life, Pat’s strength and character shone through his illness and he did everything he could to help raise awareness of ALS in his home state of New Mexico and throughout the United States. We can all do our little bit in the hope that one day in the near future a cure will be found. You can find out more about ALS here.
As for my friend Pat, he will be missed. Rest in Peace, buddy.
Keep on Rising and Shining,