By Bob Mackin
- THE BUZZ:
The first-place Puerto Rico Islanders boasted the most powerful offence and stingiest defence and won four of the five United Soccer Leagues' First Division individual awards. None of that matters, because the Vancouver Whitecaps are champions for the second time in three years.
- HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Whitecaps edged the Islanders 2-1 in Sunday's final at Swangard Stadium. Cap Charles Gbeke climbed over defender of the year Cristian Arrieta to beat goalkeeper of the year Bill Gaudette in the 55th minute. Isle Sandi Gbandi equalized in the 68th, but Gbeke used his head again for the 74th minute winner on a Justin Moose cross. "This is my game, stay in the box," said final MVP Gbeke. "So I just took a chance and put it in the back of the net."
- HELLO GBEKE:
President Bob Lenarduzzi and soccer operations director Greg Anderson are geniuses for trading Tony Donatelli to the Montreal Impact on June 30 to reacquire Montreal-raised, Ivory Coast-born Gbeke. Gbeke, 30, had unremarkable stints with Vancouver in 1998, 2001 and 2003 and was a Rochester Raging Rhino when the Whitecaps won the 2006 USL-1 title in upstate New York.
- MOOSE CALL:
"We knew we were going to go to war and everyone won their battles," said fan favourite Moose. "The fans really lifted us at the end."
- THOR THOUGHTS:
"We have been trying to play an attacking style of soccer and we have managed to do that and even win the championship," said head coach Teitur Thordarson.Whitecaps: 2 out of 3 ain't bad.