Janicki excels in home debut - The Province

By Marc Weber

Questions about central defence only raised Teitur Thordarson's blood pressure last season.

Questions about Greg Janicki after the Whitecaps' 0-0 home friendly tie against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday made the head coach smile.

"It was very refreshing to see," Thordarson said.

On an evening when seven offseason signings made their Whitecaps home debut at Swangard Stadium, Janicki stood out.

He's a big defender with soft feet, and against a Seattle starting 11 that will resemble their Major League Soccer opening-day lineup, the 6-foot-3 Janicki was a calming influence.

"He was outstanding tonight," said Thordarson, who tried 10 players in central defence last season. "It was against good players and a good team and it gives me a certain feeling we'll be good in the back.

"They [Janicki and fellow newcomer Nelson Akwari] were a very good pair."

Janicki, a 25-year-old from Michigan, signed a one-year deal with the Caps on Dec. 23. He played 20 games for MLS side D.C. United in 2008 and '09 but was released in November.

Former D.C. United head coach Tom Soehn, now Vancouver's director of soccer operations, put in a good word for Janicki after his release.

Janicki's most important plays Saturday came in the final 10 minutes. He stretched out a leg to stab away a dangerous ball in from Freddie Ljungberg, then, in time added on, blocked a Stephen King shot from a dangerous position.

"You've got to be right on their butts," Janicki said of facing players like Ljungberg, a longtime Arsenal winger, and Colombian forward Fredy Montero.

"It means we're doing a lot right defensively," Caps' captain Martin Nash said of the scoreless game.

The Caps open the regular season April 11 at home to Minnesota.
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