In his latest entry for Goal.com, the Vancouver Whitecaps center back and U.S. international breaks down his team's busy month and the European Championship.Hi everyone, it's good to be back and writing to you from Denver on this July 4th Independence Day! Hope you got a chance to take a second to appreciate our freedoms and those who have made it possible.
A lot has happened since the last time I wrote. I've had the full spectrum of what this game brings over the past month or so.
I'll start with the positive home performances we had against some of the more experienced clubs in our league, Houston and Colorado. Making BC Place a fortress and a tough place for teams to come and take points is a must for us to have a successful season. In this league, where travel days are long and the time difference matters, it's crucial to get points from your home games.
First, we put in a much-needed solid team performance against Houston. We defended well as a team and took our chances when we had them. Our rookie Darren Mattocks was a handful for Houston, using his speed to get behind their defenders and slot in a couple goals for us. We secured a comfortable 3-1 win with a late goal.
The Colorado game was another win, but in a very different manner. The game was constantly back and forth against a tough and experienced side. We had a man sent off in about the 60th minute and it would have been easy to put 10 men behind the ball to try to see out a draw. But we showed the strength of character that we should have at home. We remained solid at the back, with our midfielders helping out defensively, but stayed active up front with the energy of Davide Chiumiento and Sebastian LeToux. It was those two who hooked up for our lone goal in the 80th minute, as Davide chipped a beautiful ball over the top of their defense as Seba slid in for a fantastic one-time volley. Our fans got behind us right the way through the game and made the atmosphere particularly loud and intense for the final 10 minutes, pushing us through for an amazing 1-0 shorthanded win.
Two home games, two wins.
Later that week, we tried to make it three in a row at home against New York – and we almost did. We were winning 1-0 in the 80th minute, but gave up a sloppy goal to let them tie it 1-1.
It was ironic because I was making fun of my buddy Heath Pearce the day before about how I scored against him earlier in the season when he played for Chivas. I said I was going to do it again, but Murphy's Law showed up and it ended up being him who found the net. He gave me a wry smile at the end. It's always fun to play and have some jokes with your buddies in this league.
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It was a frustrating game in the end, because those are the games that good teams need to see out and take all three points from. Set-pieces are all about concentration, so for us to lose that in the final minutes and give up that goal was a hard pill to swallow.
Overall, taking seven points from three home games was a decent accomplishment, and we expected to continue our form on the road against a LA Galaxy team that has had it's problems this season. However, let's just say that we didn't exactly bring our best form that day. And, let's be fair, LA has probably the best squad in the league and it was definitely at its best against us.
Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan linked up fantastically well and gave us lots of trouble in the back. We just couldn't keep possession, and with that combination hitting it off we found ourselves 3-0 down at the half, leaving us with virtually no hope but to consolidate an embarrassment.
The second half was a little better, but the game was basically over and they cruised to the win. It was one of those games where nothing seems to go well and everyone seems flat. You can't dwell on those games too much because they can really drag you down, but you must not let them happen too often and you must learn from them. I remember what it felt like walking off the field that day, and I want to make sure we don't feel that way again this season.
What a great European Championships! All of my friends from England, Italy, Spain, Croatia, etc. were cheering loud and proud for their roots. It really is what makes soccer so special and so unique. I wish there was a major tournament every summer!
It was great to see Italy back to its best and to see Portugal giving everyone problems. There really wasn't a bad team in it, and that says a lot about the standard of our game around the world.
The craziest part of all of Spain's successes is that it only lost a couple games in those six years – and one of them was in the Confederation Cup semifinal to the USA! I'm proud to say that I played in that game and am even prouder of our team's performance on that day to beat a team like Spain. It just goes to show that on any given day, if you do the right things and believe in each other, anything can happen.
The Caps have another busy month in July with five away games, so it will be a true test of our team's character and a good challenge to our squad.
Speak soon. 'Til next time, keep Rising and Shining!