Elliott's debut for Whitecaps will be a friends, family affair - The Province

BY MARC WEBER Alex Elliott figures he'll have around 30 friends and family at Swangard Stadium tonight to witness his Whitecaps debut. He'll also have an ally — mind you, a brutally honest one -- in the broadcast booth. Elliott, 23, played for Whitecaps colour man Alan Errington on the B.C. under-16 provincial team. Still living in Summerland at the time, Elliott used to spend the night at Errington's house when he came into the Lower Mainland for training camps. "I got to watch film with him and I learned a ton," said Elliott, who joined the Whitecaps last month after three years in Germany. "He's such a knowledgeable guy, an unbelievable coach. His trophy room impressed me more than anything. He had this picture with Pele and I remember thinking, 'OK, I'll listen to this guy.'" Elliott is genuinely fond of Errington. There'd be no point sucking up anyway; Errington calls it as he sees it. "He might bash me a bit," Elliott said with a laugh. Errington, the head men's soccer coach at the University of the Fraser Valley and a former assistant with the national team and the Vancouver 86ers, is always quick to trumpet the cause of B.C. players. He doesn't feel enough get a look, and his voice has verve when one takes the field. Elliott grew up playing in the Dunbar Soccer Association and led Vancouver's Magee Secondary to a pair of city championships before he moved to the Okanagan. Elliott was a Canadian youth international and played college for the University of Portland before his move to Germany in 2007. "He's never been a gifted player," Errington said of Elliott, "and that's not a bad thing. The best players to come out of Canada — the Colin Millers, Randy Samuels, the Mark Watsons — they've all been very steady, hard-working professionals. A lot of the others are a flash in the pan. "It's the players who have the best temperament and Alex is straight in that mould. He's honest and he plays within his capabilities, and the thing you've always seen is his commitment." Whitecaps coach Teitur Thordarson isn't likely to start Elliott tonight against Miami, but the 5-foot-8 winger will dress and almost certainly play. Vancouver has struggled to score all season. Elliott's best assets are in attack. "He can threaten spaces in behind the full backs," Thordarson said. "He goes in there without the ball, makes runs in behind, and that's something we've been trying to work on and we want to see more of." "I think I can bring a bit of explosiveness," Elliott said. Elliott had to be patient after coming over from FSV Mainz 05, a club situated just outside of Frankfurt, the transfer paperwork holding up his debut. But now that the day has finally arrived, the guy who grew up attending 86ers camps and idolizing Dale Mitchell couldn't be more excited. "Some might say it's a dream to play in Europe," Elliott said, "and the fans were great there, it was phenomenal. But there's nothing like playing in front of your hometown fans, in front of people you care for." People like Errington. Like his parents, Deborah and Robert. His fiancee Sylvia, whom he met in Germany. And a whole bunch of childhood friends. "There might be a few guys painting their chests," he said. "Hopefully, it's just their chests." For the latest Whitecaps news and views: www.twitter.com/Province-Weber © Copyright (c) The Province