Mattocks, Koffie headline class of the 90s
Raise your hand if you remember the early 1990s?
Come on, no need to be embarrassed here.
So many important things happened during that time, especially for soccer in North America.
The 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA ended in dramatic fashion when Italian superstar Roberto Baggio skied his penalty kick over the bar to give Brazil their fourth World Cup title.
The sport’s showpiece event was the highest attended World Cup in history and laid the foundations for the creation of Major League Soccer two years later.
Away from the world game, the Montreal Canadiens became the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup in 1993 while the Dallas Cowboys (who weren’t affected by Tony Romo’s arm back then) won three Super Bowls in a span of four years in 1992, 1993 and 1995.
How the mighty have fallen.
Yep, the early 90’s were heady days indeed. Forget the musical genius of Seattle band Nirvana, because Eurodance was the bee’s knees, Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch were all for ‘Good Vibrations’ while talented Canadian reggae musician Darrin Kenneth O’Brien, better known as Snow, hit the big time with Informer – a track that would trouble even the most experienced karaoke singer.
Michael Jordan turned his brand and the NBA into a global beast as he led the Chicago Bulls to the first of two three-peats and on television, a popular teenage drama chronicling the trials and tribulations of Joey Jeremiah and his schoolmates at Degrassi High was sadly coming to an end.
So what is the point of this wonderful trip down memory lane, you’re probably asking? Well, this period of the 1990s was particularly significant for your Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Six players currently on the first team were born in the first half of that decade, with some of those experiencing top-flight soccer for the first time in their careers over the past two years. In fact, of this year's MLS Cup playoff teams, Whitecaps FC were tied for the most players born in the '90s who saw game action in 2012 (see below).
There were the exploits of Darren Mattocks (born in 1990), who finished his first year in MLS with eight goals – one of which won’t be easily forgotten by Toronto FC’s Logan Emory – and was also judged the best player under the age of 24 by MLSsoccer.com. His output even earned him his first senior cap for the Jamaican national team.
Heading into the Western Conference Knockout Round match with LA Galaxy, midfielder Gershon Koffie (1991) was the only player on the roster who took part in the club’s last appearance in a postseason, which was in USSF-D2 in 2010. He has improved each year with the ‘Caps and 2012 was no exception for the hard-working Ghanaian.
Normally a target man up front, American Omar Salgado (1993) made the shift to left wing early in the season and didn’t disappoint. If it wasn’t for a serious foot injury while playing for his country in June, Salgado would have been a pivotal part of the team’s offence down the home stretch.
After making his debut for the club in 2011, midfielder Russell Teibert (1992) looks as though he could soon earn a more regular role with the team, and even won his first call-up to Canada’s men’s national team this season.
And although Caleb Clarke (1993) was given minimal playing time and Bryce Alderson (1994) didn’t make an appearance, both are regulars in Canada’s U-20 squad this year and are poised to knock on the coaching staff’s door with extra vigour in 2013.
The 1990s sure were a lot of fun, but who knew the first half of that decade would be particularly significant for Whitecaps FC in their historic run to the MLS Cup playoffs.
MLS CUP PLAYOFF TEAMS THAT FEATURED 1990s-BORN PLAYERS IN 2012 MLS REGULAR SEASON
Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 5
Sporting Kansas City – 5
DC United - 4
Houston Dynamo - 4
LA Galaxy – 3
Real Salt Lake – 3
Seattle Sounders – 2
New York Red Bulls – 2
San Jose Earthquakes – 1