Teams can't pull trigger, but ref can - The Province

WHITECAPS 0 ISLANDERS 0: Caps star Sebrango dealt the Usain Bolt of yellow cards

Steve Ewen
The Province

With the wacky way things are going in Vancouver Whitecaps' games right now, referees might deserve a spot on the marquee.

A week ago, it was official Carol Anne Chenard's time in the spotlight, as she drew ire from the Atlanta Silverbacks after the Whitecaps steamrolled their goalie on the winner in a 3-2 decision.

Sunday, referee Geoff Gamble became a name to know for the Swangard Stadium faithful, as he gave Whitecaps star Eddy Sebrango rapid-fire yellow cards, leading to an ejection with 10 minutes to go in an entertaining 0-0 draw with the Puerto Rico Islanders.

You can go months without looking up a referee's name at Swangard. Right now, there's a two-game official-noticing streak.

Gamble was lustily booed by the crowd of 4,563 coming off the pitch, and Vancouver coach Teitur Thordarson wasn't afraid to pile on afterwards.

"It's frustrating," said Thordarson, who will miss Sebrango when second-place Vancouver (11-6-5) visits the fifth-place Seattle Sounders (8-8-8) on Wednesday. "Eddy doesn't say anything and whatever action he does, it's not serious, because nobody sees it -- either our players or their players.

"He's dangerous in every game. He's creating chances for us all the time. But we'll have to manage without him. That's how it is."

According to Vancouver defender Omar Jarun, Gamble told Whitecap players that Sebrango made a gesture after the first yellow for dissent.

On replay, he does seem to flail with one of his arms, but he didn't move it much, what with how quick the cards came out.

It might have been the Usain Bolt of yellow cards.

In Gamble's defence, Sebrango was arguing a disputed goal that many Whitecaps admitted afterwards he got right.

Martin Nash had deftly fired a corner into the box. It pinged off Vancouver's Luca Bellisomo and then a Puerto Rico defender before Islander goalkeeper Bill Gaudette got his hand on it just before the goal line.

Jarun booted it out of Gaudette's hand and into the net and bedlam ensued. Puerto Rico players complained, Gamble quickly waved it off, and then Sebrango got the boot.

"I'm not going to stop ... the whistle didn't go," said Jarun. "But he did have control of it. It was a foul."

Vancouver did manage to push despite being down a man and, overall, probably deserved a better fate in the battle of the USL First Division front runners.

Gaudette made a diving stop just 24 seconds in on a clever Sebrango header and forward Nick Addlery cranked one off the woodwork in the 69th minute.

The Islanders (12-6-5), who are three points up on Vancouver but have played an extra game, were coming off a 3-0 decision Friday in Seattle, but they only started two regulars that night, in preparation for the showdown.

"I think it was a good battle ... top two teams and I think we showed why," said Puerto Rico forward Josh Hansen, who was released by Vancouver in the offseason after joining the Whitecaps midway through last season. "Any time you come away with points on the road, it's good. It's one point instead of three, but we'll take it."

Vancouver midfielder/defender Steve Kindel (knee) didn't dress last night and midfielder/defender Jeff Clarke (hamstring) left after 30 minutes.

Thordarson's assistant coach Todd Wawrousek picked up a red card after the game.

steve.ewen@gmail.com

© The Vancouver Province 2008