Don't move up ranks, but hold onto berth
BY MARC WEBER,
Martin Nash took a jab at the Rochester Rhinos after Saturday's 1-1 tie, saying "They don't really try to play soccer ... they just kick and run." But the Whitecaps captain admitted his squad had only itself to kick for an unsatisfying result in front of another sellout crowd at Swangard Stadium.
"We got caught up playing their style of game," Nash said.
The Whitecaps (8-9-8) squandered a chance to leapfrog Montreal (9-10-5) and Rochester (9-8-8) for fifth place in USL-1. Instead, they'll settle for remaining in the seventh and final playoff spot, which at least became a more relaxing place to be on Wednesday after chasers Miami packed up their bags in a 9-0 loss to Carolina.
Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson bristled at Rochester's tying goal -- a mis-hit header by former Caps forward Ze Roberto that bounced past goalkeeper Jay Nolly in the 80th minute. That Steve Kindel set it up with a fine cross likely didn't help the coach's mood.
Thordarson released Kindel after they butted heads last season.
"It was totally a missed header," Thordarson said with disdain, before admitting "that's part of the game also." Like Nash, though, Thordarson's frustration was more with his own charges. Even if the Whitecaps had managed to preserve Charles Gbeke's 66th-minute header, he said he'd be upset with their play.
"It wasn't a good game. We didn't play well and we didn't manage to score on our chances. We battled very well, you can say that," he said.
Battle is about the best word to describe Saturday's action. Grace and glitz did not make an appearance.
Kindel was in the thick of it right from kickoff and, as with his 11 years in blue and white, the whistle and yellow card were never far away.
He had an entertaining exchange with rookie Wes Knight in first-half stoppage time as the pair traded cautions. Kindel was booked for his tackle and then Knight for taunting the veteran with exuberant clapping. Kindel earlier had words for Knight after receiving a shove in the back, and the Burnaby native also jawed with Lyle Martin after a collision.
But rather than providing a juicy quote after the game, Kindel paid Knight a compliment.
"Obviously, he's a young player trying to make his way in the league," said Kindel, who signed with Rochester six weeks ago and may well have just played his last game at Swangard.
"If he comes in intimidated, he's not going to last very long. I always give 100 per cent. I've prided myself on that regardless of how I've played. The excitement tonight -- being back here -- that was taken up a notch." Knight, like Kindel, was instrumental in his team's goal. It was his long throw-in that found the shoulder of Gbeke, and that makes four goals attributed to Knight throw-ins this season. It was also the fourth goal in three games for Gbeke, who's stepped up in the absence of injured Marlon James.
After blowing so many games they felt they should have earned points from this season, Nash said the team could at least take something positive out of the tie.
"We're five games now without losing, so that's good," he noted.
He won't share that attitude Wednesday as the last-place Austin Aztex come to town.
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