Playing at her full potential - The Province


Has stepped up since being dressed down

BY MARC WEBER

Jodi-Ann Robinson doesn't speak Italian, but the Vancouver Whitecaps forward knew she was getting a dressing down from national team coach Carolina Morace before the message arrived in English.

The scene was two weeks ago at a national team practice in Toronto before Canada faced the U.S.

"Yes, yes, coach gave me a wake-up call at one of the practices," Robinson admitted with a laugh that suggested no punches were pulled. "There was a translator beside her, but I could tell by her expressions to the translator while she was talking ... then I got the real message.

"I have to step up -- to give my best at all times."

Morace was pleased enough with Robinson's reaction that she played the 20-year-old Richmond resident for 83 minutes against the U.S.,a 4-0 loss.

Whitecaps coach Alan Koch said he's noticed a difference, too. Robinson rejoined her club side about 10 days ago and scored in their 1-1 tie at Seattle on Wednesday.

"She's come back with a whole new approach," said Koch, the Caps' first-year bench boss who's also coach of the Simon Fraser University men. "Her approach before wasn't bad, but she's been a lot more professional. She's come back with a renewed energy and vigour. Every time she goes out she wants to score."

Robinson is focused on maintaining her national-team intensity with the Whitecaps and on performing more consistently.

The powerfully-built Jamaican-born forward has seven goals in 30 career games for the Whitecaps dating back to her debut as a 15-year-old. Capped 34 times for Canada, including the 2007 Women's World Cup and 2008 Olympics, she also has six senior international goals.

Vancouver (0-0-2) will need Robinson to be a force up front today as they host W-League champions Pali Blues (2-0-1) from California (4 p.m USLlive.com.)

Former Whitecaps fan favourite Kara Lang isn't on the trip due to school commitments at UCLA, but Pali has added U.S. national team midfielder Tobin Heath, who played in their 2-2 tie at Seattle on Friday.

Heath won gold at the Beijing Olympics along with Pali teammate Lauren Cheney, who netted both goals in Seattle.

The Blues are considered favourites to repeat as champions.

"After Sunday's game, we'll know exactly where we stand and that's the nice thing about playing them this early in the season," said Koch. "It's, OK, here's the yardstick, can we compete or do we have to get a lot

better?" mweber@theprovince.com

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If you've been to a Vancouver Whitecaps game you probably have heard the Southsiders, a dedicated group of fans that inhabit the south end of the Swangard pitch. Sometimes the taunts and songs can get a little salty, but the bottom line is this group is all about a good, loud time. The only thing that gets hurt is the opposing goalkeeper's feelings. Check out the Southsiders in action in a DGTV video at www.theprovince.com/dgtv.

For real-life action, join the Southsiders tonight at Swangard when the Whitecaps host the Montreal Impact.

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