By Aaryn Vivian // @aarynvivian
To say it’s been a trying few months to be a Vancouver Whitecaps supporter would be a bit of an understatement. After falling 6-0 to Sporting Kansas City on April 20th, a loss that led to their supporters to “Demand Better”, the Caps appeared to finally be finding their footing, going 3-1-4, scoring 16 goals (2nd in the MLS), creating 95 chances (most in the MLS), and 2 MLS Player of the Week honours (Techera & Davies) with 6 matches unbeaten (including back-to-back wins.) The supporters were starting to let their guard down, the fiery pitchfork-wielding anger from April far off in the distance.
Then the Whitecaps reminded us just how quickly things can change.
On June 23rd, the Philadelphia Union put 4 unanswered goals past an undisciplined Whitecaps side, a side that, for the second time this season, was down to 9 men before the final whistle was blown. The glaring discipline issues this team has been rife with all season were once again highlighted for the entire league to see. The calls for #RobboOut were back with a vengeance, coming fast and furious on social media and had many wondering what the Supporters’ Town Hall, scheduled for Tuesday, June 26th, was going to hold.
The Supporters’ Town Hall was born out of the “We Demand Better” statement released in April 2018. In response to the statement, the Whitecaps front office had asked what they could do for the supporters. While there were many ways that question could have been answered, the first step became a Town Hall that would see the Caps’ brass come out to the Southsiders’ supporters pub and answer questions from members of the three Vancouver SGs: the Southsiders, Curva Collective, and Rain City Brigade.
It was a feat in and of itself to have the likes of Club President and Whitecaps legend Bobby Lenarduzzi, Chief Operating Officer Rachel Lewis, Vice President of Soccer Operations Greg Anderson, and of course, Manager Carl Robinson on the panel for this event, but the day before the Philly match, the supporters received word that Jeff Mallett, from the Whitecaps ownership group, had added his name to the list of panelists. For the first time in the MLS era, the Whitecaps supporters would get an audience with the people making the big decisions for their Club and be able to ask the tough questions.
Without going into the nitty-gritty details of the Town Hall, I will say it closed with each panelist offering their rationale for why each supporter should stick with the team, renew their season tickets for next year and continue to chant and cheer themselves hoarse on match days. Then the team went on to lose 1-0 to the Colorado Rapids. On Canada Day. At home. To a team who, until then, had only secured one point on the road this season.
The Whitecaps were without Yordy Reyna and Jose Aja, who were serving their match suspension after taking red cards during the match against Philly, and Cristian Techera who was serving the first of his three-match ban for “offensive, discriminatory language” used during the Union match. It’s difficult to ascertain whether any of those three would have been the difference maker in the Canada Day match because it didn’t matter: the team’s complete lack of discipline had resulted in the Whitecaps dropping a valuable three points yet again.
The pitchforks have been sharpened, the supporters are more displeased (and vocal!) than ever about the direction in which their team is headed and the calls for change rage on.
Rule #1 of the Southsiders is “Always support the Caps” and while the frustration with the Whitecaps organization reaches its boiling point, I encourage our supporters to continue the productive dialogue that began back in April, the one that reaches far beyond #RobboOut and seeks more from the Whitecaps organization as a whole.
Continue to stand and sing for the boys in Blue & White, cheer them on to victory…while holding the organization accountable and demanding better.
Featured image: @WhitecapsFC
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