By Gary Kingston, Vancouver SunApril 11, 2009Be the first to post a comment
You needed a program to identify all the new Whitecaps at Swangard Stadium on Saturday night.
But you didn’t need one to pick out the goal scorers.
The new-look Vancouver Whitecaps opened defence of their 2008 USL-1 title with a 0-0 draw against the Charleston Battery in front of 5,037 at the rain-soaked stadium in Burnaby.
While they couldn’t find the back of the net, the Whitecaps, who lost last year’s leading scorer Eddy Sebrango to Montreal and signed 10 new players while dropping veterans Jeff Clarke, Steve Kindel, Jason Jordan and Alfredo Valente, did control much of the play and had the best scoring chances.
Canadian youth international Marcus Haber, making his ‘Caps debut after spending the last two years in the Netherlands, hit the post in the 14th minute and new midfielder Ansu Toure, a former Atlanta Silverback, blasted a shot wide after jumping onto a lose ball in the 77th minute. Forward Charles Gbeke has had a chance in extra time, but in a spinning effort from eight yards out, didn’t get a lot on the ball and it was easily stopped by Dusty Hudcok in the Charleston goal.
“I think we played quite well,” said ‘Caps coach Teitur Thordarson. “I would have liked some more goal chances and some goals, but unfortunately we didn’t manage that.
“We had some really good chances, but this is how it is sometimes, especially with so many new players at this level.”
Vancouver now is 13-6-4 in home openers since 1987 and undefeated in the last eight.
The 20-year-old Haber, who got the start in place of the injured Marlon James, a St. Vincent and the Grenadines international who was the ‘Caps key off-season signing, acquitted himself extremely well after a nervous opening few minutes.
“I had a lot of adrenaline, a lot of energy,” said Haber. “It felt good to play here.”
With James still nursing an ankle suffered late in pre-season, Haber may well have earned himself another couple of starts when the Whitecaps head out on the road to Puerto Rico next Saturday and Austin, Texas., three days later.
“He’s a very promising striker,” said Thordarson. “And we saw some of it today. When he gets a little bit better timing his runs, we will see a lot more.”
The lanky, long-striding Haber hit the far post along the ground after taking a perfect through ball from Vincente Arze. He wound up with three shots to lead the ‘Caps, who had seven corners to zero for the Battery.
Jay Nolly got the shutout for Vancouver, but had to make only two relatively easy saves on the night.
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