Home MLS Toronto FC Whitecap Koffie believes his winner against TFC is just the first of many in 2013

Whitecap Koffie believes his winner against TFC is just the first of many in 2013


When the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC meet in Major League Soccer play, the home team always wins.

That rule still stands following Saturday’s 1-0 result at BC Place, as the Whitecaps won courtesy a fine right-footed strike from Gershon Koffie.

It topped a nice few days for the player, who is just off signing a new contract and also obtained his permanent residency this week.

While Koffie is universally praised by his coaches and his teammates, with many senior players expressing their belief that he can go to the highest levels of the game, goals haven’t been a big part of his contribution — Saturday’s goal was just his fifth over 59 games.

He’s hoping to change that, and after his 60th minute winner, told reporters he feels he can score in the range of 10 goals by season’s end.

That would be a big help for a club that struggled to score last season, bagging just 35 markers for the second year on the hop.

But it’s not only down to Koffie’s improvement as an individual – he’s hoping the team’s shift to a more fluid attacking style will result in more goals all-round.

“We’ve been doing that one-time passing at training a lot,” Koffie said following Saturday’s win. “To do one-time passing, you have to move, and know what to do before the ball comes.”

Koffie’s goal came as a result of one such quick passing play, as Darren Mattocks won a header back to Lee-Young Pyo, who quickly moved the ball in to Daigo Kobayashi. The Japanese midfielder didn’t hesitate, touching the ball into Koffie’s path for the Ghanaian to beat Joe Bendik from just inside the area with a strong right-footed effort.

The match didn’t have much in the way of clear cut opportunities, but from a Vancouver perspective, the play of their fourth and fifth overall 2013 MLS SuperDraft picks Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado will be encouraging.

Manneh started the match and showed his pace and trickery on a number of occasions, before finding himself swapped out for Nigel Reo-Coker, while Hurtado came on at the very end and did well to waste time before giving up the ball multiple times in dangerous positions in stoppage time.

“He brought good energy,” head coach Martin Rennie said of Hurtado. “He’s got amazing pace. He can go past people. He was a little bit unlucky not to get a goal, but he also kept the ball really well in the corner at the end, wasted time – showed good experience there. And then a couple of minutes later showed inexperience by not playing the ball in the corner.

“We’re going to have that a little bit as we teach our young players how we want them to play, but he’s got fantastic potential.”

From Toronto FC’s side, Ryan Nelsen gave his thoughts on his first match at the helm — his club started strongly with 55.2 per cent possession in the first half before seemingly losing momentum in the second half.

“The first half was very good,” Nelsen said. “We knew Vancouver, with it being the season opener at home, they’d come out strong. But we I think we dictated the first half and had a couple of very good opportunities.

“The second half, we probably just didn’t withstand the 15 minutes that Vancouver had and they got their goal. It was a wee bit disappointing, because it was a fairly routine long ball, then we didn’t pick up the second ball and it resulted in a goal.

“After that, we’re probably chasing the game — we’ve got a few new players who are having their first games and didn’t have a preseason under their belt who were fatiguing at the end.”

The Whitecaps could be missing their captain for some time though— Jay DeMerit had to leave the game four minute in after landing awkwardly following a header. The centreback has been battling an Achilles tendon injury during preseason and was only cleared to play Friday.

Head coach Martin Rennie said “quite a lot” when asked how concerned he is about DeMerit’s injury, but admitted there hadn’t been much time to assess it.

Martin MacMahon is a Vancouver-based soccer writer. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon


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  1. Footy

    March 4, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Don’t want to be replying on myself but according to FIFA a player who’s lived for 5 years in another country can take on the soccer-nationality of that country. Koffie was already there when Whitecaps were still in the NASL, so this is his 4th year?


    • Steven Sandor

      March 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      Koffie now has his residency, so it may only take a few more months to get a passport. Speaking from knowledge of the Roberts situation, he got his residency at the beginning of 2013, and is expecting to be a citizen by the summmer.

      The big challenge for Koffie will be to get an exemption from FIFA, whose rules state you need to be a citizen of country B when you play as a youth for country A IF you want to play for country A down the road. But exemptions have been granted in the past.


  2. footy

    March 3, 2013 at 9:16 am

    How many years should one live in Canada before becoming a Canadian? Wouldn’t mind to see Koffie wearing the Red jersey. He doesn’t have a cap just yet so it is possible (however unlikely). Same goes for the Impact’s Felipe, who will never make the Brazilian national team and is unlikely to get into the Italian squad in a couple of years. The new head coach should at least consider these kind of options.


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