Whitecaps blank visiting Impact - The Vancouver Sun

John Atkinson

Lyle Martin happily concurs that the page he has taken out of David Beckham's book is really beginning to pay dividends.

The 23-year-old Whitecaps right-back has been putting in extra hours on the practice field in a bid to perfect his crosses just like the English superstar did to get his free kicks down to a fine art. And, after providing a pinpoint delivery to set up Charles Gbeke for the goal which earned Vancouver a timely 1-0 win against Canadian rivals Montreal Saturday, Martin revealed the secret of his success.

"I've just been practising all the time; each and every day concentrating [on them] in my sleep even," he said. "Now it's paying off and I'm finally getting those crosses down."

Martin made his impact against Montreal in first-half stoppage time, latching onto a chipped pass from Justin Moose and whipping in a ball which was putty in the hands of former Impact player Gbeke.

Timing his run to perfection, the Ivory Coast forward powered a header wide of helpless Montreal goalkeeper Matt Jordan sending a message to his former employers that they were wrong to cast him aside in July.

The win ended Impact's six-game unbeaten run in the USL First Division and guarantees Vancouver (14-7-8) second place.

Teitur Thordarson's team can still, theoretically, take the USL-1 title but only if leaders Puerto Rico Islanders (15-6-7) lose their final two matches and the Whitecaps beat local rivals Seattle (10-9-10) in their final game of the regular season next Saturday.

That would give Vancouver a bye in the first round of the end-of-season playoffs along with a huge psychological boost. It's a long shot, but Martin isn't ruling it out.

"You always want to think about first place," he said. "You want to get that bye and the little rest period [two less games to play] that goes with it.

"I definitely feel we are peaking at the right time."

© The Vancouver Sun 2008