Wanderlust in Vancouver: Barry Robson latest to go

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I was introduced to the term “wanderlust” about 15 years ago in Douglas Coupland’s seminal book Generation X.

It seemed to stretch the definition of the word, expanding it beyond geographical attachments. It was more than the tendency to physically wander; it could also apply to wandering desire.

Today I am wondering about wandering, as it applies to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The news of the day is that Barry Robson and the Whitecaps have cut ties.

In a vacuum, the move makes perfect sense, especially as the veteran midfielder may have had family issues to consider. Either way, Robson never had the desired impact. Not even close in my mind.

I kept hearing that the caffeinated ginger made the team better, that his influence was more than the sum of his passes and midfield interaction. I tried ever so hard to see it – but I simply could never get there. I did see the feisty Scotsman holler and gesticulate a lot. But there was generally more sizzle than steak, and the team’s long, slow spiral upon the man’s summer arrival did nothing to support hopes of an impending Robson revelation.

He was 34 and set to make $600,000, so yesterday’s choice seemed easy – in a vacuum, that is.

The trouble I see is with the bigger picture at Vancouver. Specifically, what is the bigger picture?

They hired a technical director (Tom Soehn), who named a manager (Teitur Thordarson, who was already with the club). That lasted three months. Time for change.

I mean, hey, they gave it a shot! Right? It was clearly never going to work. Right?

Soehn took over. That lasted a few months; he returned to his former post as Martin Rennie came in.

Soehn and Rennie seemed to be onto something as they remade the roster for 2012. The season was going pretty well, especially considering this was a sophomore side in MLS.

So, clearly … time for do-over!

They endeavored to re-make the re-make, and things eventually were not much better for it.

Obviously, that’s a condensed version of events. It’s all more involved. But the bottom line is this: I see a lot of wanderlust at work.

I see something similar in a few of my single friends, what I like to call the “illusion of infinite choice.” That is, this dangerously misguided notion that something better is always out there. Just waiting to be had.

Talented types have come and gone with too much frequency around BC Place, Davide Chiumiento, Sebastien Le Toux, Lee Nguyen, Eric Hassli, Mustapha Jarju, Terry Dunfield and others. And this for a club that has played exactly 68 league matches.

And now Robson, who was the centerpiece of the first remodel. Or, was that the second remodel?

Honestly, it’s getting too hard to track them. And that is not a good thing for a club so new to MLS.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga