VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC met with the media on Tuesday at the National Soccer Development Centre in advance of their trip to Houston, who they will face on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium (12 p.m. PT on TSN1, CTV, and TSN 1040 radio).
Here are some news and notes from the day.
‘NOT DWELLING ON IT’
The big talking point to come out of Saturday’s defeat against Real Salt Lake was the controversial penalty decision on Jake Nerwinski, which drew the attention of observers across the league. And Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos revealed on Tuesday that the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) had been in touch to discuss the matter.
“They contacted us,” Dos Santos said. “Everybody involved with PRO hold themselves to high standards. They’re very disappointed I think with how things went. At the same time, they didn’t need to call us or to get in touch with us. We’re not dwelling on it. We’re focusing on what’s next.”
Instead of critiquing the decision, the ‘Caps dissected the play that left Nerwinski in a one v. one situation with RSL winger Corey Baird so they can limit those types of danger situations.
“We can dwell and speak hours about the penalty shot that was called, but this is a loser mentality,” Dos Santos said. “I think a winner mentality is: let’s forget the call, the call was made. What led to the call? So next time, we’re not in that position.”
"We can dwell and speak hours about the penalty shot that was called, but this is a loser mentality. I think a winner mentality is: let’s forget the call, the call was made. What led to the call? So next time, we’re not in that position."— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 12, 2019
- #VWFC head coach Marc Dos Santos pic.twitter.com/9sFst23D8n
Nerwinski, for his part, said the result of the match “stings the most.” He was understandably emotional in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s game, but has since tried to distance himself from social media and simply focus on the things he can control.
“Right after the game, I got sucked into it a bit,” Nerwinski said. “Now I just need to look forward. I need to work on the things that make me the player I am and just look forward to the next game.”
"The result stings the most. Besides the penalty call, it’s over and done with it. The fact that we didn’t get points when we deserved to get points."@jake_nerwinski | #VWFC pic.twitter.com/cq5rP1tWuk— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 12, 2019
Inbeom Hwang was one of the most influential players on the pitch on Saturday, recording game-highs in chances created (five), successful passes (55), and touches (76). He also came close on a pair of well-taken strikes – a first-half volley that forced Nick Rimando into a fine save and a late, left-footed strike that just missed the target.
For his efforts, Hwang was voted the Whitecaps FC Man of the Match and named a bench selection for the MLS Team of the Week. But that is not to say he was satisfied with his performance. According to Dos Santos, the 22-year-old Korean felt he had a poor game, which speaks to the drive he has within him to help lead the team to success.
“We can’t put the pressure on him that he’s Zidane or Maradona,” Dos Santos said. “He’s not. He’s a player of 22 years old, it’s the first time in his life that he’s lived in another country and played for another club. But everything he’s done since he’s arrived – his willingness to integrate himself, willingness to speak English, to be close to the players, he’s not rooming with his translator, he rooms with a player, he gives everything in training, he’s committed in the games – I think that’s a very good sign for us as a club.”
Hwang is one of six ‘Caps who have been called up to represent their national teams during the upcoming window, not including centre back Jasser Khmiri who received the call from Tunisia’s U-23 side but will not participate due to injury.
The others are Peruvian Yordy Reyna and Canadians Maxime Crepeau, Derek Cornelius, Doneil Henry, and Russell Teibert, who will be a part of the squad that faces French Guiana next Sunday in a Concacaf Nations League qualifier at BC Place.
“It’s really different,” said Cornelius, who spent the last two years in Serbia. “The other camps I was travelling sometimes more than a day to get into camp, now this time it's just down the street.”
All six players will join their respective national teams following this weekend's match vs. Houston. The ‘Caps do not have a match scheduled during the international break. They return to action on March 30, facing Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders FC at BC Place.
Dos Santos said he’s hopeful that recently-acquired left back Ali Adnan will arrive in Vancouver this weekend, but joked that he’s “not the government” so he won’t know for sure until the paperwork is finalized. Adnan, a 25-year-old Iraqi international who has 68 appearances in Serie A, has joined Whitecaps FC on loan through the end of June.