Who says it’s tough being the new guy?
Four Whitecaps FC debutants earned starts in this past Saturday’s 2-0 opening day win against Montreal Impact, and what an introduction it was. The quartet of Sébastien Le Toux, Martín Bonjour, Young-Pyo Lee (pictured), and Jun Marques Davidson all introduced themselves to the Vancouver faithful and all earned their postgame bows.
Le Toux ultimately made the headlines, as he scored the earliest-ever opening-match goal just four minutes in, but the contribution of the new additions didn’t stop there.
At the centre of defence, Jay DeMerit and Bonjour managed to keep yet another clean sheet after having a promising preseason together.
“So far so good,” DeMerit told MLSsoccer.com when asked to describe his first competitive action alongside the Argentine. “We still need to work on our spacing, but we haven’t let in a goal in our first three or four games together, so that’s something we can build on.”
At right fullback, Lee, the club’s most prominent offseason acquisition, showed his quality on a number of occasions, bursting into space with and without the ball. And he added a spectacular goal-line clearance to boot.
“I got picked, and I didn’t know what happened,” goalkeeper Joe Cannon said of the clearance. “I was coming out to get it, and all of a sudden, I got knocked and then someone headed it – and I saw super Y. P. Lee clear that thing off the line. It was relief, but it’s going to take things like that for us to keep clean sheets.”
In the middle of the pitch, Davidson neutralized the Montreal offence, most notably making a vital intervention right on the stroke of halftime following an impressive counter from the visitors.
“It was important,” Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie said of the intervention. “We lost the ball in a bad area when we didn’t need to, especially so close to halftime, but Davidson did the right thing tracking his run, was there and did well for us.”
The Japanase-American was awarded the Budweiser Man of the Match award for his performance, and considering the club’s problems in midfield last season, his debut put a few doubts to rest.
“I’m happy for Jun, because it was his first game and I think he solidified himself in there,” Cannon said. “That was a question to see, with John Thorrington’s injury, how [Davidson] would respond. He did great for us.”
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Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com