Goalie start's in no doubt after great finish in T.O.
If goalkeeper Srdjan Djekanovic had started against his former team, Toronto FC, on Canada Day, it would have been a neat story.
Turns out starting Jay Nolly made for a better one.
Nolly was nothing short of sensational in the second half of the Vancouver Whitecaps' 1-0 victory over TFC, preserving a memorable Nutrilite Canadian Championship win after the Caps squandered first-half chances to go ahead by two or three goals.
Such was his brilliance -- nine total saves, five for the highlight reel in the final 45 minutes -- that even coach Teitur Thordarson, who almost never discloses lineups before games, had to admit Nolly will start Saturday as the Caps (7-3-2) resume USL-1 action in Rochester (2-5-5).
"There's no doubt he saved us in the end of the game," said Thordarson.
"He was fantastic. We don't make any change."
Thordarson could have made a switch after the last Caps game in Rochester, a 3-0 loss on June 13 that marked Nolly's first defeat after four straight wins.
It would have been in keeping with the apparent goalie theme -- Djekanovic started the season and played six straight, then switched out after his second loss (the first was a 1-0 defeat on a PK).
But the coach stuck with the 6-foot-3 Nolly, noting his superiority in the air.
And Djekanovic didn't do himself any favours two weeks ago, walking away from practice after the lineups were announced.
Nolly, the 26-year-old avid fisherman from Colorado who didn't play in goal until age 13, has made the most of his opportunity.
"It's definitely up there," he said of the victory at TFC. "One of the more fun games I've played in -- in front of 20,000 people, on Canada Day, a great sunny day.
"The last 20 minutes it felt like they were camped out in our half. If was definitely tough and I'm glad it turned out the way it did."
Beating TFC, a Major League Soccer side, holds more meaning for Nolly, the Indiana University star drafted and traded by Real Salt Lake, then waived by D.C. United -- both of them MLS squads.
"I was a younger player in MLS; never really got a shot where I played a bunch of games in a row," he said.
© The Vancouver Province 2008