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#1 Posted by Dogcat250 9 months 5 days ago
Dogcat250
1550 Forum posts
VANCOUVER -- The biggest knock against Gershon Koffie with the Vancouver Whitecaps has been his consistency. An imposing presence in midfield, the Ghanaian would be the best player on the pitch one game and virtually invisible the next. After starting the 2014 campaign on the bench, Koffie has finally begun to live up to expectations on a daily basis, and both he and the Whitecaps have one of the teams new acquisitions at least partly to thank. Toronto FC dealt Matias Laba to Vancouver right before the start of the season and the Argentine midfielder has slotted seamlessly into the centre of rookie head coach Carl Robinsons formation. The workhorse not only cleans up danger in front of the Whitecaps defence, he also allows Vancouvers attacking players to push forward -- with Koffie being one of the main beneficiaries thus far. The 22-year-old scored from 40 yards out after pouncing on a goalkeeping error in last weekends 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders, and had three other clear-cut chances, including a shot that rattled the crossbar in the games opening minutes. "Gersh has got incredible attributes. Hes got the physical strength. When he makes a tackle and he means it, no ones going to beat him. Hes really that powerful," Whitecaps assistant coach Martyn Pert said Thursday. "The consistency part of the game is still something that hes got to really work hard at, and hes getting there, thats four or five games on the spin now hes been very good. "Hes got to keep it going, keep the foot on the pedal and keep driving." Robinson favoured Nigel Reo-Coker in the centre of midfield at the start of the season, but after the Englishman was injured in an off-field incident the Whitecaps turned to Koffie. "I dont think I was disappointed to be on the bench, but that motivated me," said Koffie, whose goal against Seattle was his first of the season. "I have to embrace it because my fellow mates were doing well and it was a coachs decision." Koffie -- who has already played 93 games in his Major League Soccer career -- said Robinson has asked him to go forward more in his attack-minded system, and credits Laba with allowing him that freedom to roam. "Playing with Matias Laba gives me the license to go forward and get some chances," said Koffie. "I know hes there to work the defensive part and delay (opponents) before we can get back in (formation)." Labas tenacity has also rubbed off on his midfield counterpart, who tracked back on more than one occasion against Seattle to help out Vancouvers back line. "(Labas) a guy who sets the tone," said Koffie. "If you play next to him, he goes in for tackles (and) you have to do the same. If he goes in chasing the ball, you have to do the same, because you cant let him do the job (alone)." Also just 22, Laba was a casualty of Toronto FCs winter spending spree, with the club unable to retain the designated player it acquired last season. "I didnt expect it, but I think its for the best," Laba said through an interpreter. "Im very happy in Vancouver with a great coach and teammates." Although he often takes care of the less-glamorous tasks on the field, the Whitecaps have come to appreciate his tireless work. "Mati gives us a great dimension to build off of at the back," said Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit. "He lets the guys that are creative express themselves a little bit more, just by giving you a little bit more of a lockdown defensively." Added the selfless Laba: "Ive always played that way -- win balls, win tackles -- and quickly disperse (passes) so my teammates have more time on the ball." Pert has been in awe at how quickly Laba has adapted to his new surroundings. "Matis been incredible since hes come in and the fact he came in two weeks before the start of the season and every game he just never lets you down," said Pert. "Hes absolutely a top, top player. I couldnt speak highly enough of Mati. "He makes incredible tackles, he gets his foot on the ball, he plays it simple." Because of their youth, Laba and Koffie could be patrolling Vancouvers midfield for some time, and the pair are expected to start alongside each other once again when the Whitecaps (4-2-5) visit the Portland Timbers (3-3-7) on Sunday. "(Koffies) a great player and I think we work really well together," said Laba. "I can win balls and that opens space up for him to go forward and attack more. We compliment each other quite well." Authentic Los Angeles Rams Jerseys . 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Stepanek gave the Czech Republic its second straight Davis Cup title Sunday, sweeping past Dusan Lajovic in straight sets in the fifth and decisive match to secure a 3-2 win over Serbia in the final. Discount Los Angeles Rams Jerseys . This week they discuss the Philadelphia 76ers, Gregg Popovich, Royal and Ancient Golf Club and Bill Belichick. MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins red zone offence took plenty of snaps Saturday night -- and finally produced a touchdown. The first team scored its only TD just before halftime on its 17th play inside the Tampa Bay 20, but the Buccaneers scored with 1:03 left in the game to win 17-16. Miamis starters netted 180 yards playing the entire first half, their most extensive outing in four exhibition games. Ryan Tannehill went 17 for 27 for 150 yards and a 4-yard score to Brandon Gibson with 10 seconds left in the half for a 13-10 lead. "We did some good things," Tannehill said. "We moved the ball well. But we didnt finish when we got into the red zone. When you get that close after moving all the way down the field, you really want to score touchdowns." Gibson and Brian Hartline dropped potential scoring passes, and twice Miami settled for short field goals. "We have to catch the ball more consistently, no doubt about it," coach Joe Philbin said. "I cant tell you the rhythm offensively was great tonight. It didnt feel that way to me. Its got to get better." Miami fell to 1-3 with one exhibition game left. The Buccaneers improved to 1-2, but their first-team offence sputtered again. Tampa Bays Josh Freeman went 6 for 16 for 59 yards, took five sacks and lost a fumble while playing 2 1/2 quarters. The turnover came at midfield with 1:29 left in the first half and led to Miamis lone touchdown. "It was an uphill battle," Freeman said. "We really werent in sync like wed like to be. There were a number of things that we have to get cleaned up." Freemans performance was part of the problem, coach Greg Schiano said. "The quarterback play was not what I wanted it to be," he said. "The good thing is that we have two weeks before the season starts, because were going to need every day of it." Tampa Bay had an edge in special teams, with backup linebacker Adam Hayward making two fumble recoveries on the punt coverage team, which led to the Bucs first 10 points. One turnover came after the kick hit blocker Nolan Carroll, and returner Marcus Thigpen lost a fumble. Thigpen later had a 38-yard punt return. The takeaways pleased former Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt, who is in his first year as Tampa Bays special teams coach. "Witth the exception of that one return, I thought our special teams played outstanding," Schiano said.dddddddddddd Miami began the game with a 17-play drive that took 8 1/2 minutes -- but settled for a field goal. Tannehill completed six consecutive passes during the possession, including one on fourth down. "Im moving in the right direction," the second-year quarterback said. "There are still some plays I should be better at, but Im learning and try not to make the same mistake twice." It was another slow start by the Bucs defence, which allowed the Patriots Tom Brady to go 8 for 8 on a game-opening touchdown drive last week. Lamar Miller had the edge on Daniel Thomas in their competition for the job as Miamis No. 1 running back. Miller had eight carries for 35 yards, including a 20-yard run on his first carry against the Bucs stout run defence. Thomas carried seven times for 3 yards. "Lamar appeared to run the ball well," Philbin said. "Daniel never really got untracked in the running game, it seemed, but I cant tell you it was all his fault." Two-time Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph, who missed Tampa Bays entire 2012 season because of a right knee injury, played for the first time this preseason but couldnt give the ground game much of a boost. Brian Leonard led Tampa Bay with 38 yards rushing and a score in 10 carries. The Bucs Mike Williams was targeted seven times but caught only two passes. David Douglas scored for the second week in a row when he caught a 12-yard pass from Mike Glennon with 1:03 left. Tampa Bay backup defensive end Trevor Scott had three sacks. Cornerback Darrelle Revis, who began practicing with the Bucs first defensive unit this week, sat out his third exhibition game in a row as he comes back from knee surgery. Left guard Carl Nicks (infected left big toe) and running back Doug Martin (head) were also sidelined. Veteran Rian Lindell, signed this week
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