Photo Credit: Vancouver Whitecaps Twitter

*This was originally posted April 10, 2022*

Another sports week, another edition of Avid Thoughts.

We are underway in April and it is one of the best months for sports. It’s late regular season and playoffs for NHL and NBA, baseball begins, soccer season, NFL Draft and the Masters are on. April and October are the best months for sports.

Let’s get into my thoughts

Soccer night in VARcouver

So the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers played their 100th match against each other in all competitions at BC Place on Saturday night. Both teams came into the MLS in 2011. 

The travelling Timbers fans went home happy as Portland beat Vancouver 3-2. 

The Whitecaps did not have the same intensity in the first half as they did in the first half against Sporting Kansas City. Ryan Gauld and Brian White did connect but it was the final third that was the Achilles heel. They did not have a single shot on target in the first half.

Portland had a couple shots on Thomas Hasal but the defence looked fine in the first half. Sebastian Berhalter seems to be improving every game as he was constantly making tackles and intercepting the ball. He and Russell Teibert did well to force turnovers.

Cristian Gutierrez also displayed good pace and passing.

Portland played very narrowly when the Whitecaps were on the attack and they did a good job of closing down on Vancouver.

In the second half, the Whitecaps did get that intensity back and Cristian Dajome did get a goal off a Caicedo cross. Gauld had plenty of chances including a header that just went wide and a shot off the rush that was stopped by Aljaz Ivacic. 

Portland got a goal late in the first half on a penalty kick. In the second half, the Whitecaps defending looked sloppy. Jaroslaw Niezgoda just handled Florian Jungwirth with ease. Shortly after Dajome’s goal Yimmi Chara (apparently pronounced as “Jimmi”) went through Ranko Vesilinovic and Gutierrez for the 3-1 goal.

Vanni Sartini said after the game that Portland was a sleepy team and fell into their trap and got sleepy themselves. He was ticked off not because of the effort but because of the way they lost. Vesilinovic even said they gave up some stupid goals.

VAR was active in the final 20 minutes or so. It was VAR that gave the penalty to Portland in the first half after it looked like Dajome launched himself at the Timbers player. The video review was used after Gauld was brought down in the box but Dajome missed the penalty. 

VAR was once again used after the Timbers kept arguing after Caicedo was pushed in the box. This time, the check took only like 30 seconds. Gauld stepped up and converted the penalty and it looks like he will be the penalty taker going forward. I thought White should have been given penalty duty just as a confidence booster. He looked quiet against the Timbers and still has yet to score this season.

The Whitecaps did put up a good effort. It seems like they start getting more attack after facing the opposition’s attack. The shots they took often missed the net and they need to hit the target. As for the defending, it cannot fall asleep against CF Montreal as they did against Portland.

Don’t Go Chiasson Waterfalls

Credit to Daniel Wagner AKA Pass it to Bulis for the title. Also hope he gets well soon as he recovers from COVID-19. You should also listen to his album called The Neverknown which was released a few weeks ago. If you like the 90s to early 2000s pop-punk sound, it’s for you. The Neverknown is pretty good.

While the Whitecaps lost to Portland at BC Place, the Vancouver Canucks were playing the San Jose Sharks across the street. Too bad, I couldn’t watch this game because I heard it was chaotic. There was a high hit by Kyle Burroughs on Nick Merkley, a Will Lockwood fight, Vasily Podkolzin impressed and Jason Dickinson and Conor Garland broke goal droughts.

There was one man who received a lot of praise and that was Alex Chiasson. Chaisson has three goals in his last two games and seven points in his last five games. He receives a lot of criticism from Canucks Twitter but now he is getting a lot of praise.

The reason why he gets a lot of criticism is that he is put in top six situations and often doesn’t do much in them. There are also times when he just doesn’t do a whole lot on the ice. What Chiasson is good at is providing a net-front presence on the power play and sometimes it doesn’t work but it’s a good thing when it does.  

He also was signed to a PTO and that was after Zack MacEwen and Jonah Gadjovich were claimed off waivers. Chiasson has more goals than MacEwen and Gadjovich this season but I think Canucks fans were upset with the process of losing MacEwen and Gadjovich and the latter did deserve one more shot.

Chiasson is fine as a fourth-line guy and has proven to be useful on the power play. He is only making $750,000 this season so it’s not like he is overpaid. It’s just there have been so many times where he doesn’t really do anything. 

Personally, I’m fine with letting him sign somewhere else in the offseason but if the Canucks bring him back on a one-year league-minimum deal, I won’t hate it.

Chelsea’s striker curse

Chelsea has made great signings over the years. Many of them have made a huge impact at the club and some have become club legends. Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard, Cesar Azpilicueta and N’Golo Kante come to mind.

Like any big club, however, some signings have not worked out and have become “flops.” Many of these “flops” were strikers. Strikers, of course, score goals but these players couldn’t score consistently at Chelsea.

In fact, two of Chelsea’s current strikers can be considered “flops.” Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner have been disappointments.

Lukaku has been hardly getting any game time recently and when he does he ends up missing the net or doesn’t look that engaged. He has produced more sweat and memes (So many people on social media call him “Lakaka” now.) this season, unfortunately. Lukaku has not scored a Premier League goal since December. Chelsea paid 97.5 million pounds for him last summer and he is their most expensive signing ever. With him being on the bench a lot and not performing on the pitch, it looks like a total waste of money. 97.5 million down drain. 

Werner on the other hand misses a lot but often works hard. He is also unlucky at times with him going offside and hitting the post numerous times. He did score two goals against Southampton on Saturday helping Chelsea win 6-0. Funny that all his goals in the Premier League this season have been against Southampton.

Kai Havertz who is naturally a midfielder has been playing as a striker and he has been scoring plenty of goals lately.

I don’t know what it is but many strikers have flopped at Chelsea over the years. It has been known as the Chelsea Striker Curse. Drogba, Diego Costa, Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham are the only players that have avoided the curse.

Players like Robert Fleck, Chris Suttin, Andrei Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, Alvaro Morata, Alexander Pato and Gonzalo Higuain were strikers that had a hard time scoring goals at Stamford Bridge. Torres did redeem himself with the winning goal in the 2012 Champions League semi-final against Barcelona but there wasn’t much to be excited about other than that.

Many of the striker flops have worn the number nine shirt which is seen as a bad omen at Chelsea. Torres, Morata and Steve Sidwell are players that struggled wearing that number. You can now add Lukaku to that list. 

The last two players that did while wearing number nine are Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who scored 87 goals in 177 appearances and Abraham who scored 30 in 77.

So Lukaku and Werner are two big-money signings who are two more victims of the Chelsea striker curse. I don’t know how to explain this stuff. I really don’t. Is this karma for the constant fan hooliganism in the 70s and 80s? Did a Chelsea striker say Macbeth inside the theatre? Did some players hold horseshoes upside down? Who knows.

It is not a good look on the club that many strikers are failing to score for them curse or no curse. Looks like Chelsea will be buying another striker in the summer I guess. Heck, they were even linked to Canada’s Jonathan David a few months ago. I would love that! (Not just because he’s Canadian.) 

The club needs to find a way to make players fit in with the club so they can perform to the best of their abilities.

Cheer for whatever team you want

So Blue Jays and MLB season is back and in came the “Why are you cheering for a Toronto team?!” or “Mariners are BC’s team!” type of Tweets.

So I am a Blue Jays fan. Why? It was mainly due to Jose Bautista and also, the games were always on. Now I too hate the fact that Sportsnet shoves the Blue Jays down our throats 24/7 and the whole “Canada’s Team” thing. 

I always hated that term. Canada’s Team is not the Blue Jays, the Raptors, the Leafs or any other Canadian NHL team. Canada’s Team is the national teams of hockey, soccer, curling or whatever. Any team that is called Canada is Canada’s team.

The whole idea of Canadians need to cheer for the Jays is just wrong. There are Canadians who are Mariners, Cubs, Yankees, or Red Sox fans for example. They cheer for those teams for whatever reason. 

Frankly, you don’t have to be close to a team to cheer for them. Sports teams always want new fans whether they are from their based city or not. The Canucks have fans in other provinces and heck, even the UK and Europe! To me, that is great. It grows the Canucks brand and hockey. 

Is it wrong for me to cheer for Chelsea because I don’t live or even stepped foot in London? (I will one day. Seeing Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge is high on the bucket list.) No. Chelsea has fans all over the world and that is why soccer is the world’s most popular sport.

Back to the Blue Jays now. It is very annoying that the media labels the Blue Jays as “the team” for Canadians to cheer for. If you are a Blue Jays fan like me, great. Cheer for them for whatever reason. 

If not, that’s fine. Cheer for the Mariners or whoever. Heck, the Mariners have a good roster and could make the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years! I too also wish we got more Mariners games on Sportsnet or TSN.

Basically, cheer for any team you want. It doesn’t matter if they are next door or five hours away. No one is stopping you from being a fan of that team.