BY IAN WALKER
VANCOUVER — It’s said that you make your own luck. That it’s a byproduct of psychology, where a person is lucky not because of cosmic accidents, but because one possesses a particular mindset which precipitates and amplifies a positive outcome.
Say what you will, Gordon Chin is sold.
The Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder will start in the team’s most important game in recent memory Tuesday night when Vancouver plays host to Toronto FC in the Nutrilite Canadian Championships at Swangard Stadium.
And to think, less than four months ago he was a castaway. Just another professional soccer player looking for a team to join after being unceremoniously released by another. Of all things, a management change within Chinese Super League team Changsha Ginde, costing the 26-year-old Burnaby, B.C., native his job. But it gets worse. Once earning his way onto the Whitecaps roster there was a delay with the Chinese Soccer Association and Chin’s international transfer papers.
“One of the biggest and toughest things is to stay positive when the times are hard,” said Chin, who will replace Martin Nash in Vancouver’s starting lineup.
“It’s so easy to go the other way and not take things serious and take shortcuts, but if you work hard and stay focused you never know what can happen.”
Like veteran Lyle Martin breaking a bone in his foot in Vancouver’s final exhibition game before the team was to depart for its African Tour, opening up a spot for Chin, who was originally left off the Whitecaps roster. Or Nash being yellow carded against the Montreal Impact — his second of the tournament — and subsequently forced to watch Tuesday’s game from the stands.
“Staying positive helped allow things go the way they did,” continued Chin, a USL-1 veteran who spent the 2008 season with Chinese second-division side Yantai Yiteng. “It was unfortunate for Lyle in the pre-season and the same goes for Nashie now, but this is my chance, just like it was in training camp, and I relish the opportunity.”
Nash’s attitude is usually no less positive, but by his actions last week he manifested his fate. The Whitecaps captain was booked for a retaliatory shove on a known agitator, Impact defender Adam Braz. His suspension brings the end to an iron man streak of 68 games, dating back to June 10, 2007, when he was called to represent Canada internationally.
“I don’t think I’ve ever watched a game at Swangard,” said Nash, who will be sitting with his children in the grand stands. “It’s going to be tough. I’m not used to watching — I don’t know if I’ll be able to sit through the whole thing — it’s going to be hard knowing you can’t influence the game on the field. But we have some great players and guys that I believe can and will step up.”
Vancouver (2-1) and Toronto (2-0) lead the three-team championship with six points each, with the Whitecaps needing a win to keep its chances of representing Canada in CONCACAF Champions League play alive. A Toronto loss and it would need to win its June 18 game in Montreal and finish the tournament with a better goal differential than Vancouver.
A draw or a loss by Vancouver would more or less secure the championship for Toronto. Not that that changes anything, said TFC head coach Chris Cummins.
“We’re not the type of team that sits back and says a point will do us,” said Cummins, whose team ranks third in Major League Soccer in goals scored on the road with nine in five games. “We don’t do that. We will be looking to get the result we are looking for. It’s a game we are taking very seriously.”
Toronto will be without its leading scorer and a top defender as Honduran striker Amado Guevara and American Marvell Wynne will miss the match because of international duty. The visitors could also be without starting goalie Stefan Frei.