In an inaugural Major League Soccer season punctuated by highs and lows, 2011 has very much been a learning experience for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. One thing, however, has remained constant. At each and every match, the Blue and White have enjoyed extraordinary support, attracting energetic and enthusiastic crowds at every home match, as well as a dedicated group of travelling fans who have traversed the continent to support them. Here, we have a look at some poignant moments in the season thus far, and recognize the fan support that has remained unwavering throughout it all.
March 19, 2011
Its opening day for Vancouver Whitecaps FC as they face off against Canadian arch rival Toronto FC, with over 22,000 fans filling the stands at Empire Field on a sunny spring afternoon. Chants and songs rise from the supporters, as they witness a historic moment for soccer in Vancouver, with the Blue and White taking the field to the warmest of welcomes. The action on the pitch matches the intensity in the crowd, with everyone on edge waiting for that first goal and the celebration to follow. A quarter of an hour into the match, an eruption of applause previously reserved for hockey arenas and football fields in this city rises to a crescendo, as Designated Player Eric Hassli records the first goal in Vancouver’s MLS history.
That would be followed by several similar celebrations that afternoon, each of them commemorating the beautiful game and the arrival of the MLS to the Pacific Northwest. With a 4-2 final score, fans leave the Pacific National Exhibition grounds excited at the prospect of things to come, eager for the referee’s whistle to kickoff the next match.
April 2, 2011
In their second home match, fans return to Empire Field clamouring for more from their Whitecaps FC squad. Despite a barrage of shots on goal, the ‘Caps find themselves down 3-0 to the visiting Sporting Kansas City after 62 minutes. The fans though, do not waver in their support, continuing to sing, chant and cheer on their team. The home crowd are given hope with a little over 15 minutes remaining, as Atiba Harris pulls one back, but still they trail 3-1 entering stoppage time.
Energized by the encouragement from their adoring fans, the ‘Caps come through with a remarkable last-minute comeback as Brazilian striker Camilo strikes twice in the dying stages for a thrilling 3-3 draw.
April 6, 2011
After two exciting home matches, the drama continued in the ‘Caps third match at Empire Field – and so too did the importance of the incredible support from fans. Whitecaps FC go down to 10 men just before halftime, as midfielder Gershon Koffie is shown a straight red card. The ‘Caps persevere to take a 1-0 lead early in the second half, as Hassli fires home a penalty kick. However, the big Frenchman removes his jersey in celebration to earn a second yellow and subsequent ejection, putting the ‘Caps down to nine men.
Spurred on by the home support, the ‘Caps survive the next 20 minutes down two men, and the next 15 down one man after New England receives a red card of their own. Fatigued by the disadvantage, Vancouver ultimately concedes a goal in the dying stages to settle for a 1-1 draw. The fans, though, show their appreciation of the heroic effort with a lengthy standing ovation after the final whistle.
June 11, 2011
Down 2-1 in the waning minutes of a pivotal Cascadia Cup match-up with Seattle Sounders FC, Hassli again plays the role of hero, flicking the ball to his right foot and volleying a strike from the right edge of the Sounders FC box to the top-left corner, evening the score and sending a dedicated section of Whitecaps FC fans into a frenzy. In one of the season’s most memorable moments, it was this group of travelling fans who were rewarded, witnessing one of the best goals of 2011, courtesy of one of their own.
July 30, 2011
A sunny Saturday afternoon in Vancouver sets the stage for the arrival of the class of the MLS, the Los Angeles Galaxy. An exciting first half of back and forth action ignites a record setting crowd of 27,500 at Empire Field. The second half starts much the same as the first, with Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Shea Salinas striking the post after a charging run that might have sent the capacity crowd into an uproar. Alas, it was not to be, and Los Angeles quickly responded and proceeded to take over the match.
One thing they could not control, however, was the enthusiasm demonstrated by the supporters, who continued to cheer boisterously even as the match slipped away. It was a testament to the nature of the devoted Whitecaps FC supporters, unwavering in the pride they hold for their city, their team and themselves.
As Vancouver Whitecaps FC head into the final third of its inaugural season, we would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to each and every supporter who has helped us to this point. Without you, there would be no reason for the hours and hours of work put in on the pitch, in the office, and in the community. We look forward to seeing and hearing from you again soon.
This Sunday afternoon, Whitecaps FC return to MLS action on Bell Pitch at Empire Field when they host Eastern Conference club Chicago Fire at 4 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS 1.855.646.2277).