Print Edition: May 22, 2013
It was a night of firsts for the Vancouver Whitecaps: the first time they defeated LA Galaxy, the first and second MLS career goal for 20-year-old Canadian midfielder Russell Tiebert and my first experience sitting in the Southsiders’ fanzone at BC Place Stadium. While many of you were still licking your Canucks-related wounds on May 11, the ‘Caps were burying the Galaxy in a 3-1 defeat.
The afternoon started out across from the Vancouver Public Library as the Vancouver Southsiders marched to the stadium. The Southsiders are the largest organized supporters group in Canada, according to their website, and they make it their business to support the Vancouver Whitecaps at both home and away games as much as possible. You can hear the drums and songs before the first ‘Caps fan comes into view as they march down Robson Street.
Once inside the stadium, it becomes clear that I am up for 90 minutes of cheering, singing and standing, as my ticket has me planted firmly in the section dedicated to the ever-supportive fan club. As the commentator lists off LA Galaxy’s starting lineup, he pauses as if to leave the space for fans to yell “Wanker” after every name. Soon after, the stadium engages in a passionate rendition of the Whitecaps’ team anthem, “White is the Colour.” Before the kickoff, I am already starting to learn the words to the songs.
The game starts with an early yellow card to the ‘Caps defender Johnny Leveron for a tackle in the third minute. Following that, the calls in the first 45 minutes appear to favour the Galaxy rather than the home team. Strong attempts are made by the ‘Caps throughout the last 10 minutes of the half, with a solid corner attempt forcing Galaxy keeper Carlo Cudicini to make a save.
As the keeper winds up to send the ball down field, the Southsiders that take up most of the seats behind him yell “You Fat Bastard” in attempt to throw off the kick. Similar heckles are made in the second half as the Galaxy winds up for a corner kick, with the Southsiders pointing at the player and chanting “Who are ya?”
The first half ends with no score, but spirits are far from dampened in the Southsiders’ section of the stadium. Going into the second half, the ‘Caps begin putting on the pressure against the two-time MLS Cup defending champions.
Finally, after 63 minutes of play, Tiebert receives a pass by midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker and calmly puts one by Cudicini for his first MLS career goal. The stands erupt as fans hug and high-five equally-elated strangers. A little over 10 minutes later, Tiebert buries a second one in the same corner of the net after a well-placed ball from midfielder Gershon Koffie. The celebration earns Tiebert a caution at the 76-minute mark.
An unfortunate injury soon after for Camilo Sanvezzo sees him carried off the pitch on a stretcher and replaced by Jordan Harvey. Galaxy takes advantage with a quick header by Gyasi Zardes to make the score 2-1 with four minutes of regular time left.
Three minutes of stoppage time is added to the end of the match and the ‘Caps capitalize. Canon sends the ball downfield and it is quickly put through for striker Darren Mattock to breakaway. Cudicini shuts him down and Mattocks’ scoring dry spell continues … for two minutes. A throw-in from Tiebert moves through much of the offensive line before Mattocks turns and strikes the ball out of the air past Cudicini at 92 minutes.
The Whitecaps defeat the Galaxy 3-1 and climb out of their winless slump. Experiencing the game in the heart of the fanzone enhanced an already buzzing stadium atmosphere. By 90 minutes I hadn’t realized that I’d been standing for the entirety of the match. Friends were made with the surrounding fans and I had a new arsenal of songs to chant at ‘Caps games. Tickets start at $20 and the season runs until the fall. So, while you’re wondering what to do with your summer now that there’s a long gap until hockey starts up again, wander over to BC Place. Take my advice and try to score tickets in the fanzone, because win or lose, the Southsiders provide a sports fan experience that rivals anything Gillis could come up with.