BY MARC WEBER
Charles Gbeke returned to the Vancouver Whitecaps this season a new man.
He had a Brazilian bride, Juliane, and a terrible tic -- a wild swinging air punch that followed any missed chance, or half-chance.
Combine those theatrics with his penchant for pouncing on players after a poor cross or mistimed ball into his feet and it's easy to surmise that no Whitecap has been harder on himself, or his teammates, this season.
That all changed against Toronto FC last week, and not because teammates took offence to Gbeke's displays of passion. His dad did.
"He said, 'You've got to stop doing all that stuff,'" Gbeke said of his conversation with dad, Noel, who's caught a few games on TV. "It's true. In the Toronto game I just decided I was going to forget about all that and focus on the things I can do, try to be positive.
"I know that if I'm focused enough I can create a lot of damage."
It's a one-game sample, but Gbeke did far less talking with his mouth and his arms against TFC and played perhaps his best game of the season.
He was a physical force, earned corners, held the ball at will and distributed neatly.
He set up Ansu Toure's 2-0 goal and has two goals and two assists in 11 games across all competitions this season.
Game 2 of the Chill Charlie era goes tonight as the Whitecaps (3-3-2) shift their focus from the Nutrilite Canadian Championship to USL-1 play, hosting Gbeke's former team, the Montreal Impact (2-4-2).
"I want my players to be comfortable around me," said the 31-year-old Montrealer, noting his frustration over a poorly-timed pass is as much an admission of his own speed limitations as anything. "Sometimes when you scream or lift your hands people take it the wrong way.
"So that's the new Charles -- more chill, more encouraging."
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Montreal Impact at Vancouver Whitecaps
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Tonight
Venue: Swangard Stadium
The Whitecaps couldn't divert their attention away from the Nutrilite Canadian Championship when they last played a USL-1 game -- a 2-0 loss in Portland. They'll try to avoid a similar fate tonight and instead carry over their impressive form from Tuesday's big win over Toronto FC. M Gordon Chin will again start in central midfield, this time in place of Ethan Gage as Martin Nash returns from suspension.M Vicente Arze (hamstring) is back in the 18 and F Marlon James (hamstring) played in a PDLgame Saturday.
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(USL-1 record: 2-4-2)
It's been a rough start to league play for the Impact, who conceded a stoppage-time winner in Portland on Thursday. Former Whitecap Eddie Sebrango is stuck on one goal.
Top league scorers: Gjertsen and Brown (2)
(USL-1 record: 3-3-2)
Predicted starting XI: J Nolly; T Hirano, W Charles, J Parke, L Martin; A Toure, M Nash, G Chin, W Knight; C Gbeke, M Haber
Top league scorer: James (3)
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