VANCOUVER, BC – If Andre Lewis scores a goal against Portmore United on Sunday in Portland, don’t expect another back flip. In fact, don’t expect any celebration.
As he has shown over the last week, Lewis loves scoring goals and he isn’t afraid to show it. His failed back flip attempt after scoring a 90th-minute winner against the University of Victoria Vikes became an instant internet hit.
Then, after some encouragement from the fans, Lewis followed that up with a successful back flip moments after scoring another 90th-minute winner in Vancouver’s Blue and White intrasquad match on Wednesday.
“I just like to excite the fans whenever I score,” Lewis told reporters after the match. “Whenever I score, I just try to do a Jamaican dance or something … I just like to enjoy scoring.”
And that will never change.
But on Sunday, when Vancouver Whitecaps FC meet Jamaican club Portmore United – Lewis’ former team – in the first match of the Rose City Invitational, the 19-year-old Jamaican said he’ll try to keep things tame if he scores another goal.
“It’s an honour for me to play against them,” he said. “I hope it’s a good game. I hope everything goes well. I respect them a lot. If I score, I won’t celebrate. It’s my team from day one, so I respect them a lot.”
Prior to getting selected by Vancouver in last month’s MLS SuperDraft, Lewis spent three years at Portmore United. The Spanish Town, Jamaica native only appeared in a few matches in the Jamaican National Premier League, but he trained with the first team regularly and was involved in the club’s youth system.
Lewis had nothing but good things to say about his time at Portmore. He’s still friends with “everyone on the team,” including head coach Calvin Lewis.
“When I was leaving, the coach said, ‘Andre I need a Vancouver jersey,’” Lewis recalled. “He liked me as a youngster coming up through the system. And his last name is Lewis also, so he wants a Vancouver jersey with Lewis on the back.”
That wasn’t the only request Lewis received. Many of his former teammates have been in touch, as well.
“I’m looking forward to meeting them,” he said. “They have been calling me and asking me if it’s going to be cold, if I can help them out with gloves, Under Armour and stuff like that. I told them I will try if I can.”
But once the match starts, it will be business as usual – for both he and Portmore. This is a game Portmore’s players are taking seriously, he said. For many of them, this will be the first time they play outside of Jamaica.
He said a few players to look out for are midfielders Ricardo Morris, Paul Wilson, and Damian Williams, but the whole team will be coming out with something to prove.
“All of them just want to show their talent to impress either San Jose, Vancouver, or Portland,” said Lewis. “They want an opportunity. They want to be here.”
“They’re going to be rough,” he stressed. “They have some players that just attack, attack. They play aggressive. They’re going to try and play tough to beat us.”
Lewis isn’t the only Whitecaps FC player who is familiar with the Portmore United squad. Striker Darren Mattocks, who was born and raised in Portmore, also has a number of friends on the team. The 23-year-old even trained with them in the summer before returning to Vancouver.
“It’s going to be like a bit of a homecoming away from home,” Mattocks told whitecapsfc.com.
For Mattocks, however, the match will be a little different than it is for Lewis.
Before heading off to Akron University in 2010, Mattocks played for Jamaican club Waterhouse – one of Portmore’s “arch-rivals.”
“I’m being dead serious right now, that’s one of the teams I hated the most,” Mattocks said. “It’s so funny that I grew up in Portmore but I was never a fan of the team. It’s nothing bad, it’s just that we were arch-rivals with those guys.”
Despite the rivalry, Mattocks said whenever he’s back in Jamaica he always attends Portmore matches and supports the team as best he can. He still has a lot of friends on the team, and was very complimentary of the club’s player development model.
“Most of the guys that play for Jamaica come out of that club, because I think they’ve done a really good job of establishing young talent, transitioning from one step to another,” he said. “I think they do the best job so I have to give them credit … but hopefully we get the better of them come Sunday.”
Whitecaps FC begin their 2014 MLS season on March 8 versus New York Red Bulls at BC Place. Season tickets start at just $349, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps also offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.