By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com
The 2009 season offered a wide and varied set of highlights for the Vancouver Whitecaps men's team.
A six-month campaign usually offers many memorable moments for those who play, work, or follow the Blue and White. From exciting events on the pitch to impressive developments off of it, what stands out for one individual can easily differ from another person's moment of the season. Nowhere is such variety more revealing than with those that work very closely with the Whitecaps men's team.
In the third part of our series of reviews on the 2009 season, Whitecaps men's team players, coaches, and staff offer their top moments of this past season. The following submissions offer a unique insight into what stood out for those that were on the frontlines of the 'Caps season in USL-1 and the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
Whitecaps men's team – Players and staff highlights of 2009
Men's team head coach Teitur Thordarson
My highlight was when we beat Toronto FC at home in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. The match proved that the difference between clubs from Major League Soccer and our team is not huge. It also allowed soccer fans across Canada to see our qualities as a team on national television, and what they saw was a very good performance from us. The young players that night showed they can play at the top level, while the atmosphere at Swangard Stadium was simply fantastic.
Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi
Randy Edwini-Bonsu’s goal against Carolina RailHawks in the playoffs was my highlight of the season. The significance of the goal, and the fact that it was the only goal of the first-round playoff series was paramount to our eventual postseason run. Randy used his pace and then had to calm himself to slot the ball into an empty net. Like Ethan Gage last season, it was nice to see another one of our Residency players make a major contribution to the first team.
Captain Martin Nash
My favourite moment was the 3-3 draw away to Portland Timbers that won us the playoff semifinal series. The emotion and the feel in the group was incredible, while it was also very satisfying to knock off the league's top seed in the intimidating confines of Portland's PGE Park. The noise and atmosphere that was generated by both sets of fans that day will be something that I will always remember of that day.
Whitecaps director of professional teams Greg Anderson
The team's youth movement really stood out for me this season. The contributions by first-year players such as Tyrell Burgess, Marcus Haber, Wes Knight, Nizar Khalfan, and Kenold Versailles, along with the performances of our Residency players such as Philippe Davies, Randy Edwini-Bonsu, Ethan Gage, Dever Orgill, and Simon Thomas were a positive sign for the future. Having looked at the statistics, we had over 200 total appearances by players under the age of 25 in 2009. This compares to a total of 117 men's team appearances by the same age group in 2008.
Defender/midfielder Wes Knight
The first start of my professional career away to Austin Aztex in April had to be my highlight of 2009. I was all over the pitch playing with incredible confidence and excitement. To get an assist on Marco Reda's goal and receive an ovation from the Austin crowd when I was substituted late in the match was a great memory for a rookie's first professional start.
Whitecaps goalkeeping coach Mike Salmon
Jay Nolly's fantastic double save in the late stages of our Nutrilite Canadian Championship home win over Montreal Impact really stood out for me. Those stops earned us the win that we needed to stay in the hunt for the title. A close second had to be Nolly's fine penalty stop from Daniel Paladini in the second leg of our first-round playoff series at Carolina RailHawks in September.
Men's team physiotherapist Graeme Poole
Ethan Gage's goal at home against Montreal Impact in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship was my highlight. What I remember most is the look of pure jubilation on Martin Nash's face, as Ethan was running past him. They had been paired together in central midfield for a while, and you could tell that Martin was really happy for Ethan.