Quiet 'Cap taking lead

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 7:16 AM ET

Last year "J.J." had the Whitecaps' Midas touch.

This year it's "J.G."

Chronic turf toe has limited Jason Jordan to just two assists in five early-season games. Even if head coach Bob Lilley judges the 2005 United Soccer League's First Division MVP healthy this week, he might have a hard time regaining his spot on the pitch.

That's because of a deep forward corps led by soft-spoken sophomore striker Joey Gjertsen.

The Tacoma native leads the Whitecaps with nine goals and six assists.

He had one in a 3-1 win over Puerto Rico Islanders on Aug. 4 and a pair in the 3-2 win over Miami FC to end the two-game tropical trip on Aug. 6. He came home as the reigning player of the week Sunday and participated in each goal of the Whitecaps' 3-0 shutout over Virginia Beach Mariners.

"Whatever's going right I want to keep doing it," Gjertsen said. "It's a combination of things. As a team we're flying forward, getting a good number of chances and making the most of it."

The 24-year-old was the Whitecaps' rookie of the year in 2005 and finalist for the league award with three goals and three assists. He came north after starring with Olympia, Washington's Evergreen State College Geoducks.

Against the Mariners, Gjertsen transferred a Jay Alberts' pass to Geordie Lyall whose 10th minute header was his first goal since 2002. Gjertsen assisted Alberts' header from seven yards in the 65th minute and had his fourth goal in three games on Tony Donatelli's cross in the 72nd minute. Goalkeeper Tony Caig made three saves for his sixth shutout of the season before 5,380 fans.

Whitecaps play their last regular season road game on Saturday against the Seattle Sounders. They'll come home to play four games in 16 days against Minnesota Thunder, Charleston Battery, Sounders and Atlanta Silverbacks.

"If we take care of our games at home, maybe get a win in Seattle, we think we can be near the top," Gjertsen said. "Montreal might run away with it, but I definitely think second is reachable."


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