Sounders Insider

Greetings from Empire Field in Vancouver

Final: A 1-1 draw. Whitecaps got equalizer in final minute. Goal by Chiumiento ... which frankly might have been intended as a cross. San Jose and Vancouver remain stuck at one-win each.

Greetings from Empire Field in Vancouver. After covering the Portland Timbers' home opener last month, I wanted to try to get up to Vancouver to report on the soccer atmosphere up here, too.

I didn't pick an ideal day. For one thing, it's as cold and rainy up here as the weather I left down there this morning. For another, instead of the home opener in a renovated stadium, this is a midweek game matching a pair of one-win teams on a -- did I mention this? -- cold rainy night in a temporary stadium.

The gates haven't opened yet. But the early impression is, well, yeah, it's a temporary stadium. But from the inside it looks more solid and permanent at Columbus Crew Stadium, which frankly looks as though it was assembled with a Leggo set. However, the temporary nature of Empire Field shows outside the seating bowl, where instead of a traditional concourse there is sort of a fenced area of concrete that abuts a roller coaster. (Which is kind of cool actually.) And there are trailer-like concession buildings and portable restrooms.

The other thing that counts a bit against the timing of this visit is that the city seems -- to put it mildly -- sort of distracted by the Canucks' NHL playoff run. Driving through town, I saw dozens of cars with Canucks flags waving from the windows. And when I stopped at a mall, Canucks merchandise was everywhere ... although there also was a fair sampling of Whitecaps merchandise ... far more than either the BC Lions or the minor league hockey and baseball teams in town.

Anyway, I'm here for the atmosphere more than the game. But I'm sure I'll pop in with both observations and game updates as the evening rolls along.

The Sounders game here Sept. 24, btw, is scheduled to be the Whitecaps final game here before they move into their permanent semi-retractable-roof downtown stadium, BC Place. Portland gets honors as the first opponent in the new place.

Lineups: Pete Vagenas not among the 18 for the Whitecaps. And neither is Joey Gjertsen of Tacoma for the Earthquakes.

Kickoff: We're under way. Earthquakes in black/black. Whitecaps in white/white. The pregame here was very cool, complete with native drums and Macy's parade-like balloons lifting huge banners with the Whitecaps logos. But for all that, pretty small crowd here -- the guy next to me and I are guessing 10,000-12,000 -- probably for the reasons outlined above.

Most disappointing so far is that it isn't instantly obvious where the supporters group sections are. I have now spotted them huddled above a sign that says "Vancouver Southsiders." But they look mostly like miserable wet people waiting for a bus, with no particular presence of team colors, and at this moment, no flags, chants or songs.

That said, the crowd does seem to have filled in a bit since kickoff. I'm guessing maybe 14,000-15,000 now. Not Seattle or Portland, but actually pretty good my MLS standards for a rainy midweek game between a pair of one-win teams.

39th minute: Wondolowski puts San Jose up, 1-0.

Halftime: 1-0, Quakes.

Second half: Has begun.

60th minute: Still, 1-0, visitors. But we've just had the loudest chat from the home crowd: one side of the stadium yelling "White," the other "Caps." Nice.

Attendance: 15,609.

Final: A 1-1 draw. Whitecaps got equalizer in final minute. Goal by Chiumiento ... which frankly might have been intended as a cross. San Jose and Vancouver remain stuck at one-win each.

Whitecaps walk to stands and applaud their fans. Southside supporters stick around nicely, flags waving.

  Comments