Gbeke's header keeps hope alive - The Province
Not even a flying elbow to the jaw could wipe the grin off Charles Gbeke's face.
The Vancouver Whitecaps forward proved his worth as a seer and a striker in a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday night at Swangard Stadium -- a win that kept first-place hopes alive.
Gbeke spoke at practice this week about having visions of glory against his former side. His hometown team that cast him off in early July when he was stuck on one goal.
That dream became reality seconds from halftime when he slammed a header past Matt Jordan in the Montreal goal.
After the game, Gbeke was still soaking it up, despite subbing off six minutes into the second half when Antonio Ribeiro caught him high with a careless, flailing arm.
"I knew I was going to score," he said. "I knew I was going to bring three points for my team. It's all about confidence.
"I think [my jaw] is dislocated, I don't know what's going on there but it's not broken. The doctor was kind of afraid because a month ago I had a concussion."
Midfielder Lyle Martin, whose crosses have improved immensely over the course of the season, put the ball into the box from the right side. It wasn't a tough target, he noted.
"You always see Charles," Martin said. "You can't miss Charles. He's eight foot [6-foot-2 actually]. He's definitely a big target to look out for in the air."
The goal sent Gbeke racing toward the sideline, where he hopped an advertising frame and made like Usain Bolt in the final quarter of the Olympic 100 metres, waving and blowing kisses to the sellout crowd of 5,288 as he jogged the track.
The win assured the Whitecaps (14-7-8) of at least second place. Vancouver is two points back of the Puerto Rico Islanders (15-6-7) for first, which comes with the bonus of an opening-round playoff bye. Puerto Rico, though, holds the tiebreaker.
Vancouver closes the regular season at the Seattle Sounders (10-9-10) on Saturday, while Puerto Rico hosts Atlanta (8-11-9) and visits Montreal (12-11-5).
The Impact were the hottest team in the league coming in, with six wins in seven games. But a hectic schedule due to their CONCACAF Champions League games led to John Limniatis starting just two of the same players who started in Seattle on Wednesday.
Vancouver coach Teitur Thordarson, meanwhile, went with 17-year-old Ethan Gage in central midfield, tweaking his lineup due to injuries and suspension.
Wesley Charles (thigh), Takashi Hirano (foot) and Omar Jarun (suspension) were all missing from the defence, and Geordie Lyall lasted just 36 minutes. Two more youngsters -- Mason Trafford and Dever Orgill -- saw considerable time but the inexperience didn't show.
"I'm very happy with the game tonight," said Thordarson. "I think defensively we were fantastic and, in the first half, we created a lot of chances." firstname.lastname@example.org
© The Vancouver Province 2008