In his latest journal, the Vancouver Whitecaps defender talks about his team's huge home win over high-flying San Jose and inspiring a fellow MLS Rise and Shiner.What a difference a few weeks makes! Not long ago I was writing about the disappointment of our performance against the San Jose Earthquakes. Now, the whole city of Vancouver is still buzzing about our win against them on Saturday.
It really was an amazing game and atmosphere. BC Place erupted when big Eric Hassli, who had come off the bench, scored the winner in the 93rd minute! The whole place went nuts. I jumped over the pile of my teammates celebrating on the ground and went to enjoy the moment with our fans – they had stuck behind the team and helped us the whole way through the game.
For me, San Jose is the best team in the league right now. So to go 1-0 down, and show the character to come back and win the game in the final minutes, hopefully demonstrates that we have the foundation that we want to build our team upon this season and going forward.
Shutting down that combination of Lenhart and Wondo is always going to be a tough task. As a partnership, they are as good as anyone else in the league up front, along with the Red Bulls’ Henry and Cooper. With guys of that talent, first and foremost you have to COMPETE. If you're not willing to fight it out and stay switched on for 90+ minutes, strikers of that quality will usually find a way to beat you.
But credit to our defense's strategy; apart from the one play they scored on, we kept San Jose’s front two to very limited chances and frustrated them most of the afternoon. We called upon our attackers to do their job and score goals, and they came up trumps.
Overall, from the organization to the players and to the fans, it was a great day to be a Whitecap! Hopefully when we look back on that day in the future, we will say that was one of the tipping points to a successful year.
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The most gratifying thing I get out of the Rise and Shine project is hearing the stories of how my journey has helped people to rise and shine in their own lives. I get emails on a weekly basis and they never fail to inspire and humble me. I love that.
Last week, I learned about how Erich Marscheider had been able to use my story to make his own and had signed as a keeper for Houston Dynamo. That’s amazing. For me, that is WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.
It sends a buzz right through me every time I hear or see someone taking on life and achieving things they might not have thought possible. Please keep those emails coming – I love it.
Kudos to you, Erich, and the rest of you Rise and Shiners, past, present and future.
Hopefully, many of you got to enjoy the FA Cup final at the weekend. It was fantastic game to watch. I was going for the Reds. My agent is a huge Liverpool supporter, so I had to side with him. And Steven Gerrard is one of my favorite players, so I was behind him.
With my affection for English football, I’m going to have to cheer Chelsea on in the Champions League final next week. It’s great to see how Chelsea has turned its season around under Roberto Di Matteo and are now performing to its capabilities.
The FA Cup is a tournament rich in history and prestige. I was lucky enough to play in the FA Cup semifinal a few years ago for Watford against Manchester United.
The game was played at Villa Park, Aston Villa’s stadium. It was amazing to see the two different team colors split down the middle of the stadium, and hear the waves of noise coming from each end depending on the action. That’s what makes those cup games really special. We ended up losing the game, so we didn't make it to the final, but it was an experience I'll never forget.
This week the Whitecaps have another round of the Canadian Cup against Edmonton. If we win, will be through to the final.
One day I hope to see a 50,000 seat stadium full of half Vancouver, half (insert other great Canadian team here) fans fighting it out for cup glory! Let’s keep growing the game here in North America.
Until next time, keep Rising and Shining.