Whitecaps won't settle for anything less than a win tonight - The Vancouver Sun


BY IAN WALKER

You gotta love technology.

No, seriously, you really have gotta love technology if you want to follow the Vancouver Whitecaps' crucial matchup with the Montreal Impact in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship today.

The meeting of two of the country's top soccer teams will not be broadcast live on TV nor will it be available outside La Belle Provence.

Of course, there's always the Internet, but unless you parlez vous Francais, you're going to have to watch the game online with the sound down and sync it with Team 990's radio broadcast.

To do that -- for those still shuddering at the word Internet -- you'll have to open another window in your browser and use it to call up the Montreal-based, all-sports radio station's streaming audio.

"Wow, that's pretty complicated," said Impact general manager Nick DeSantos, whose team's fans had only the option of listening online when Montreal opened the three-team tournament last week against Toronto FC. "It's definitely one of the things we have to look at if want to be grow the Nutrilite Championships, get more people involved, and raise soccer awareness in this country."

It's a shame, too. There's every chance today's game could be one of the finest and most passionately played contests in Canada this season.

Both Vancouver and Montreal face must-win scenarios should the United Soccer League First Division rivals have any hope of earning a berth in CONCACAF Champions League play.

The Whitecaps and Impact are winless (0-1) in the six-game, round-robin tournament, trailing Toronto, which leads the standings with six points and a perfect 2-0 record after identical 1-0 victories over their Canadian brethren.

"It's crucial. We have to shoot for two wins the rest of the way here, anything less is going to be unacceptable," said Whitecaps captain Martin Nash. "Another loss and we'd be out of it. Even a tie doesn't do us any favours. We have to focus on the win and then come back and win. It can be our only mindset."

The Whitecaps enter the match fresh off their most impressive effort of the season. Vancouver dominated the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday, but lost 2-1 after failing to convert more than once on almost a dozen quality scoring chances.

"I don't remember having seen such a good attacking game since I've been here," said head coach Teitor Thordarson, now in his second season. "Everybody is quite happy with the way we played, but we are unhappy with the result. Heading into the next game that is something positive to have with you."

The Impact are coming off a

4-0 shutout of the Austin Aztex, the team's first win of the season and first under new head coach Marc Dos Santos, who replaced John Limniatis last Thursday. Montreal is also the defending Nutrilite victor, advancing within one game of the Champions League semifinals last season.

"With so much on the line between two Canadian teams, I fully expect it's going to be a very emotional, intense and exciting game," said DeSantos. "It's just too bad most people won't see it."

While it might not seem like it today, Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said the switch from CBC to Sportsnet is an improvement. CBC televised all six games last season, but most were shown on tape delay. Sportsnet's deal has it televising live four of this season's six games.

"The evolution may not seem that significant because of tonight, but last year the game's weren't shown live," said Lenarduzzi. "So four live games over six delayed is a step in the right direction in my mind. We just have to continue to work at making our sport that much better and more desirable so we can compete with sports like hockey and baseball."

Until then, there's always the Internet. Or, for tonight at least, Doolins at Granville and Nelson. The Whitecaps have arranged for the Irish pub to show the game should fans wish to have someone else look after the technical aspects.

- Whitecaps defender Geordie Lyall made the trip east and is available to play after missing the start of the season recovering from ankle surgery.

iwalker@vancouversun.com

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