Whitecaps win sets off sellout crowd - The Province

We took over in the last 15 minutes. There were a few tears there at the end,' says fan We are the champions of the (USL soccer) world. The Vancouver Whitecaps sent a sellout Swangard Stadium crowd home deliriously happy last night, delivering the hard-fought championship of the United Soccer League First Division. Charles Gbeke (pronounced Bee-kay) was the hero of the night, scoring the only two goals the team needed to down the Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1. "It's pretty awesome," said fan Warren Calderone, whose entire family came decked out in blue Whitecaps-coloured wigs. "It was close, but we took over in the last 15 minutes. There were a few tears there at the end." The crowd witnessed a see-saw battle as the home team went ahead 1-0, then watched the Islanders tie the game. But Gbeke sent the crowd into a frenzy with a brilliant header in the 78th minute to seal the deal, with an assist to the exquisitely named Justin Moose. The final whistle saw the entire crowd on its feet, waving flags, chanting and racing on to the field. Gbeke and the other players ran joyfully to the south end of the stadium, where they danced alongside fans setting off fireworks, throwing confetti and singing at the top of their lungs. The scene was a riot of blue as the pandemonium unfolded under a full moon on a cool, crisp night that had the Puerto Rican substitutes jogging all game on the sidelines to keep warm. "This is fantastic, " said Ferenc Haranghy, a Port Coquitlam contractor, joining the jubilant mob at midfield. "This represents the future of the franchise. From this, I think we're going to start the momentum for a Major League Soccer franchise." The game was a non-stop cacophony of sound as the Puerto Rican fans with their drums and cowbells competed with the Whitecap fans chanting "Go, Caps, Go" and "White-Caps," led by the Whitecaps' mascot, Winger. "I've been waiting for this for years," said Pedram Shakibafal of North Vancouver, waving a team flag. "This shows the Whitecaps are the best." Hundreds of fans lingered at the stadium long after the win, soaking up the atmosphere, chanting and singing the many Whitecap-fan songs in unison. And game-MVP Gbeke, 30, was in the middle, hugging and dancing with them. "The fans are great," said Gbeke, who was traded from his hometown Montreal Impact this season. "It was a great moment. We're a family. We help each other out." But Gbeke didn't want to be singled out for his two-goal effort. "I just want to dedicate the MVP award to my team," said the striker. "We did it together." The Whitecaps will move to B.C. Place in 2011 and want to join Major League Soccer. iaustin@theprovince.com