Vancouver fired Robinson with five matches left in the season and playoff hopes still alive. They promptly took four points out of the next 12 and were eliminated before winning on the Decision Day and finishing two points back of sixth.
Felipe Martins was in tears as he recapped a rough personal season that included his father-in-law dying, a loss of a family dog, and further unnamed family issues.
And Efrain Juarez was not pleased with his teammates speaking out in public.
#WhitecapsFC’s Effy Juarez not happy with his teammates comments to the press. “That is a coward. That is between men. No go and cheat around his back. I don’t believe what they say. To be honest, I don’t respect.” #VWFCpic.twitter.com/zp8LnMoApB
But things turned sour this season, and Vancouver president Bob Lenarduzzi is hoping a late coaching change can propel the Caps back into the playoffs. Vancouver is four points back of the final spot with five matches to play.
Kendall Waston joined Vancouver at the end of Robinson’s first season, and was twice named to the MLS Best XI in addition to making the All Star Team in 2016. From MLSSoccer.com:
“It’s a difficult moment. I’m not happy at all. But as a player, you have bosses, and even if you don’t like the things that happen, you have to respect what those bosses say. … I was thinking, with five games to go, was this the right moment? Personally, I don’t think it was the right moment, but I’m not in charge of the club.”
The Costa Rican captains Vancouver, so his feelings certainly matter when it comes to how they rebound from the decision.
And star striker Kei Kamara admits he feels the firing in his bones.
“He believed in me, he believed in how I could play, he believed that I can fit the system, and I respect him so much as a coach and for everything he’s done here,” Kamara said. “So when I heard the news, I took it personally too because I feel that we did that to him as players. … I feel responsible for part of it.”
The Caps have a rough run into the end of the season, with a visit to the desperate LA Galaxy before heading across the continent to meet Toronto FC at BMO Field. They finish home to Sporting KC, away to LAFC, and home to Portland.
Ibrahimovic scored a wild shot off a bounce from almost 40 yards before heading in the winner as the Galaxy rallied back from a 3-0 deficit in the first “El Trafico.”
“I saw the goalkeeper he was out and I said I will shoot it over, but it was all depending how do I shoot, do I shoot high or in front to put power on it,” Ibrahimovic said. “I chose the power way and it went in. Then the adrenaline starts, you start, and you don’t want it to finish. You take off your shirt and you just want to celebrate with the fans. You want to feel the energy that is going through the stadium. If I would have more strength, I would have run all over the pitch, but I just managed one side of the field.”
A couple other thoughts on the game, and Zlatan:
— The next time someone tells you that MLS, or any league brand, needs players more than names, ask yourself if the league would be better served if Saturday’s meter would have moved with “random 20-year-old South American or European prospects” had the same performances as Carlos Vela and Ibrahimovic. If you said yes, well, enjoy making “Use Your Illusion III.”
— Bob Bradley, likely the most impressive American-born manager in history, has had enough of Zlatan. The LAFC boss oversaw Saturday’s come-from-ahead loss as well as a 3-1 loss to Manchester United as Swansea boss which included a brace from the Big Swede. Four goals in about 113 minutes. Woof.
— In our rush to call it the “best game in MLS history,” please don’t forget David Beckham’s first start, which finished three goals off his set pieces and markers from a 17-year-old Jozy Altidore in addition to Landon Donovan, a bullet from Clint Mathis, Edson Buddle, and Juan Pablo Angel:
Some other things we learned on Saturday (and Friday).
— Toronto is going to be fine. The Reds have a huge CONCACAF Champions League match looming at midweek, and still battered Real Salt Lake 3-1 at BMO Field. Of course they should usually handle their business, like most good MLS teams, when a team travels across a continent as they did Friday. But off an 0-2 league start, surely seeing two goals from Jozy Altidore — and 12 combined shots from the USMNT striker and Sebastian Giovinco — feels good.
— The only match Brad Friedel has lost as New England Revolution boss was his opener, and that saw the Revs go two men down. If Friedel and I were friends, I’d like to think I’d call him “Frieds.”
“Frieds,” I’d say, “Looks like I was wrong about you being able to find the talent in that bunch and do well as a first year manager.”
That’s because New England is now 2-1-1 after beating Houston 2-0, albeit up a man for most of the match. Keep an eye on a manager the league would love to trumpet with more success.
— Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls staged a 4-3 wonder in Florida, but you can be happy you weren’t watching live to see the officials send soccer back 20 years by not calling Dom Dwyer for his rugby style stiff arm of Luis Robles in scoring off a corner. You have to feel for the video editor here, because the below highlight is state-run TV level funny. Imagine trying to build a lifelong fan out of someone who’s watched any other high level soccer in his life when this happens to their team:
— There’s a reason Carl Robinson is still in charge over in British Columbia, and the Vancouver Whitecaps‘ 2-1 win in Columbus show just why. The Crew are a tight, thriving unit, but Robinson’s men didn’t flinch when Gyasi Zardes put them down a goal. Well-utilized Brek Shea continued a productive start to the season with an equalizer, and Federico Higuain’s old pal Kei Kamara gave the ‘Caps all three points level with Sporting KC for first in the West.
— Speaking of Sporting, KC scored a third minute goal and a welcomed clean sheet in moving to 3-1-1 with a win over Ben Olsen’s DC United. Goal scorer Felipe Gutierrez might be the league’s top performer over the first month of the season. After failing to score in KC’s season-opening loss, he has five goals in five games.
— It was another big name veteran who starred for Chicago Fire and kept Gio Savarese from a win as Portland Timbers manager. Bastian Schweinsteiger set-up goals from Nemanja Nikolic and Brandon Vincent in a 2-2 tie at Toyota Park in Illinois.
— No snow globe this time around, and no real goals in Atlanta United‘s win at Minnesota United. An own goal hurts, but the Loons are looking much better in Year Two of MLS.
— It’s going to take San Jose some time to become a consistent side under Mikael Stahre, with a number of new pieces playing a new system, but there’s some encouragement in scoring early and sticking with dangerous NYCFC before falling 2-1. Most importantly, and we’ve said this before, Stahre has unleashed Valeri Qazaishvili, who recorded seven more shots as the West Coast, younger, poor man’s Sebastian Giovinco.
— Colorado Rapids handled their business again under head coach Anthony Hudson, with Dominique Badji bagging a hat trick in a 3-0 win over visiting Philadelphia. Tim Howard made four saves for the Rapids, who were outshot at home to spite the score line.
— Three games, three red cards for Seattle. This one helped them lose 1-0 to a Jeisson Vargas goal in Montreal.
So we move on with weekly thoughts on almost every team, on average, and still titled Twenty-Three, because we like the title and there are most certainly 23 franchises in the Majorest of Soccering Leagues.
Off this weekend: FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union, San Jose Earthquakes. Of the bunch, spare a thought or two for Seattle and Toronto, who are off to Mexico for midweek CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second legs and have a very good chance of dancing to semifinal berths this week.
Atlanta United: For all of what Major League Soccer is, isn’t, and won’t be for some time, there’s no debate that having a boss with the tactical acumen of Tata Martino is important. Don’t know what it says about last week’s 4-0 drubbing in Texas, but our own Andy Edwards has a solid take on why Tata and tactics matter.
Columbus Crew: I’m not ready to anoint Gyasi Zardes as the Comeback Player of the Year, but he’s finishing his chances early this season. The extra g in Gregg Berhalter may stand for genius, as the Crew man continues to spin successful game plans with a changing roster.
DC United: The Black-and-Red regressed against a step up in competition from Week 1, getting just six shots off in a 3-1 loss at Atlanta. But Darren Mattocks is being allowed to fire at will, now with eight shots over two matches. The mercurial underachiever is apparently going to get every chance to meet his potential in Washington.
Houston Dynamo: No one was expecting a repeat of Houston 4-0 Atlanta, but the Dynamo didn’t much resemble their opening week form aside from the continued dynamite skill set of Alberth Elis, who scored their lone goal. Lots to consider for Wilmer Cabrera with a trip to DC and a road match they’d like to count as result-worthy.
LAFC: Now, it may just turn out that the recipe for expansion success in MLS is the same as putting any sort of decent team together: a tactically-wise, experienced manager with creative attacking talents who can perform at a much higher level than MLS. Bob Bradley, Carlos Vela, and Diego Rossi, take a bow and then get back to work.
LA Galaxy: It’s hard to win on the road, especially adjusting for the tiny pitch at Yankee Stadium, so L.A. gets a bit of a pass for this week.
Minnesota United: As the kids on the social media say, “I am here for” Ethan Finlay finding his stride closer to home. The Duluth-born winger, 27, has five goals in 14 total appearances, two in two this season, for the Loons after scoring just seven times in his last 53 for Columbus.
The Loons showed supreme resolve in blocking 10 of Orlando’s 20 attempts on goal. And considering the criticism Minnesota boss Adrian Heath has faced, it’s solid for him to get a win against his former club.
Montreal Impact: Another loss, and it seems like we’ll see a bunch of those from the Quebecois side, but what a goal from Raheem Edwards. The cross getting to him is an argument against Columbus’ back line, but quite a hit:
New England Revolution:Brad Friedel did what he was supposed to do in picking up his first win — punish a cross-country traveling non-conference power. Still it’s not worth sleeping on the fact that Colorado won a load of 50/50 battles against a midfield which shouldn’t lose that many.
New York City FC: It’s improbable for me to describe the feeling in my soccer soul when I’m tuning the TV to an NYC game against a skilled opponent (or any time, really) only to see my mind made me forget they are playing on postage stamp which will only serve to produce a game of glorified Buffalo Blizzard vs. Cleveland Crunch. #WelcomeHomeOttoOrf.
New York Red Bulls: TFW you’re already going to lavish praise on Jesse Marsch and then get this email from intrepid RBNY PR man Gordon Stevenson: “Per Elias, 17-year-old (Ben) Mines is the fifth-youngest player to earn an MLS start in club history, and the third youngest to score, behind Eddie Gaven and Jozy Altidore.”
Red Bulls won 4-0 with Kyle Duncan, Derrick Etienne, and Mines in the Starting XI. Full marks if you know two of three (and that’s giving you a relative gimme in Etienne).
New York continues to churn out effective players many have never heard of until they impress on an MLS weekend. Mines doesn’t even have a blue check.
I can not describe how grateful I am for the support everyone has shown for me in the last 24 hours. I never imagined so many people being behind me in doing what I love. Thank you to everyone who has continually supported me through good and bad along the way🙏
Orlando City: The Lions will be dismayed to take just one point from two matches, but remember we haven’t seen a minute from each of Sacha Kljestan and Dom Dwyer.
Portland Timbers: Gio Savarese is a good manager, but consider “losing to a bunch of kids in a match RBNY was willing to risk throwing away” a proper warning sign.
Real Salt Lake: Losing 5-1 at home to an expansion club would make any fan base want an apology. RSL’s boss is the kinda fella who’s not tone deaf and willing to proffer one. Back to the drawing board in Utah.
Sporting KC: We’ve long felt Peter Vermes in a potential USMNT coach, and his side put in a “Crazy Jurgen friendly win” performance in what Andy Edwards rightly called an “early game of the year contender.” Now can they find their reliable striker, or is this going to be a component scoring team?
Vancouver Whitecaps: Carl Robinson’s men continued to make a case for West Coast bias, heading into a building that witnessed a 4-0 defeat of Atlanta United and improving to 2-0 through Kei Kamara‘s 100th goal and a Break Shea winner.
Robinson was a bulldog of a player and his teams frequently do what it takes to get the job done, through any number of roster iterations. An inspired if “settling” hire from the ‘Caps continues to pay off, as you don’t often see the assistant of a departed boss take over in trying times and go on to become a mainstay.
Vancouver is hanging onto stalwart coach Carl Robinson despite a massively disappointing season.
The Whitecaps were tipped to compete for the Supporters’ Shield, only to miss the playoffs. There were plenty of excuses for the ‘Caps, including an injury to Kekuta Manneh and the transfer of Octavio Rivero.
And Vancouver is alive as the No. 1 seed in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, also claiming the Cascadia Cup.
“Carl’s body of work over the course of his five years at the club has shown that he is one of the top up-and-coming head coaches in North America. While this past season was certainly a learning experience for everyone involved within the club, we have complete faith in Carl’s continued vision in acquiring the necessary players to build a team that will compete with the best in MLS.”
Robinson turned 40 this month, and has been leading the ‘Caps since December 2013. This is a smart move for both Vancouver and its coach.