With a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids, the Vancouver Whitecaps finished off their season the best way they possibly could. The club gave YP Lee a terrific send off, Camilo was all over the field in pursuit of the golden boot and the team put a starting lineup on the field that showed their young stars.
YP Lee was honored by the team by giving him the captain’s arm band for the game and prior to kick off the Whitecaps showed a video montage that lead to a standing ovation. Unfortunately, the referee wanted the game to start and shortened the moment by blowing the whistle to start the game as the video ended and the crowd was just starting the standing ovation. Lee played a stellar game that he can be proud of after a very solid career. After the game, Coach Martin Rennie made the comment that many were already thinking, “You saw tonight as well as he played today against a difficult opponent, Deshorn Brown, you know you want him to be still playing.” The admiration towards Lee was on display at the end of the game as he was substituted off in the 90th minute and this time the official didn’t cut the moment short. As he made his way towards the sidelines, he was congratulated by his teammates and competitors with handshakes and hugs. After the game Lee applauded the crowd and made sure to soak in the moment as he signed autographs, took photos and it looked like he didn’t want to leave the field.
Camilo entered the game needing two goals to win the MLS Golden Boot and early on it looked like he was going to be snake bitten as the Rapids goalie Clint Irwin thwarted two great chances early. However, once Camilo put home the penalty kick, drawn by Kekuta Manneh, it seemed to give him that scorer’s swagger. Camilo, honored YP Lee in his own way, giving him the ball that he just scored on the penalty and kneeling down in appreciation for his teammate. The soccer gods must have liked his ceremony as the ball was finding him in the second half. The goal that sealed the golden boot for Camilo was a great display of footwork and skill, undressing the Rapids defender and slotting it in far side. He was not done though, as Camilo won the golden boot, outright, by completing his first MLS hat trick in the 84th minute. Camilo shattered the previous club record (13) for goals in a season with 25 through all competitions.
The most encouraging part of the game for the Whitecaps faithful was the play of their young stars. Sam Adekugbe made his MLS debut and was one of two 18 year old players in the lineup, the other was Manneh. The Whitecaps started 5 players age 25 and under, which included Russell Teibert, Gershon Koffie and Camilo. With the squad looking inspired, it was arguably the best game of the season for the Whitecaps and a lot of it was because of the young talent on display. Teibert put his name in the Whitecaps record books as he ties the clubs record, with Davide Chiumiento, for assists in a season with 9 helpers. When addressed after the game Rennie had the following to say about the promising future of the club, “the future is extremely bright for us,” later adding, “We have young players coming through that are starting in our first team and doing extremely well, so I think we are extremely excited about what the team and do and what it can be.”
It was a fitting end to an otherwise disappointing conclusion to a season where the club expected to make the playoffs. It will be a busy offseason for the management team but as many in the club and that are fans of the club, this team is not far away from being top of the league.
All Pictures Courtesy of Matt Webb – Sports Action Pictures