A day to remember for Whitecaps FC and their supporters
Soccer fans in Vancouver waited two years for today to take place. In that time, many of them will have had thoughts of how an MLS debut match would unfold.
When the league decided that Canada's first MLS club Toronto FC would be Vancouver's maiden opponent on March 19, 2011, the build-up led to a special day and the further rise of a natural rivalry born out of three years of Nutrilite Canadian Championship soccer.
Yet, for all who could have imagined Whitecaps FC's MLS season opener to be a convincing home win against Canada's other club in the league, Saturday's events at Empire Field not only dawned a new era for the Blue and White, it fulfilled the hopes and dreams that something very special had finally been established…if not re-established.
"We've had a fantastic day, in every sense," said Whitecaps FC chief executive officer Paul Barber. "We prayed for good weather, and got good weather. We prayed for a big crowd and we got a big crowd. We prayed for goals and we got goals."
So many story lines are sure to emerge from Saturday's events in East Vancouver. Whether it was ponchos thrown on the pitch in celebration of Whitecaps FC goals or the heart-warming ovations that 'Caps players received before taking a corner kick, all who were involved or in attendance will have taken something away from Empire Field.
"This was the most electric and intense set of emotions I have ever felt," said Whitecaps FC's Wes Knight. "I didn't imagine it was going to be quite like this, but to get a win on such a day was not only great for our team and our confidence, but also for the whole city of Vancouver. People know now that we are a legitimate side in MLS. The Whitecaps are here, and are here to stay."
The win over Toronto FC was not only impressive in result alone, it also countered some predictions that Teitur Thordarson's side would struggle to find the back of the net in their first season at the North American top flight. "Today, we got four goals. That's it," said youngster Russell Teibert in response. "We haven’t been a goalscoring team in the past, but we showed something today that we're going to score a lot of goals this season."
For the 'Caps, Saturday's result was the end product of two months' hard work in preseason and a desire to prove that the newest side in MLS will be a very competitive outfit. "We concentrated on our own style of play today and I thought we got our game plan spot on," said goalscorer Terry Dunfield. "Hopefully, we can keep things going over the course of the season."