Future looking bright for Caps - 24 Hours

By Bob Mackin

The Vancouver Whitecaps will be honoured at Vancouver city hall today with a 1:45 p.m. public flag raising rally.

It's the first event of a busy off-season. The Caps' bid to join Major League Soccer was already FedExed on Friday to league headquarters in New York after outgoing Mayor Sam Sullivan visited commissioner Don Garber. The waterfront stadium proposal is stalled, but talks are ongoing for a 2011 lease at B.C. Place Stadium.

The Whitecaps will enjoy a spike in 2009 season ticket subscriptions as they aim to become Vancouver's first pro sports franchise to repeat as champions. The rival Seattle Sounders leave USL for MLS and will be replaced by the expansion Austin Aztecs.

Management will be challenged to ensure the return of 2008 standouts like Justin Moose, Lyle Martin, Wesley Charles, Jay Nolly and Charles Gbeke plus retaining the veteran core of Jeff Clarke, Martin Nash, Alfredo Valente, Steve Kindel and Eduardo Sebrango.

ROAD TO THE TOP

- Score: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Puerto Rico Islanders Goals: Gbeke 55th (Clarke) and 74th (Moose); Gbandi 68th (Delgado); Shots: Vancouver 12-11; Saves: Vancouver 6-3; Corners: Puerto Rico 5-4; Offsides Puerto Rico 4-2; Fouls: Vancouver 9-8; Card: Kindel (71st).