Whitecaps fans flood field with ponchos

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- The debut of Canada’s second Major League Soccer franchise was a major success, except for the rain poncho retention rate.

The plastic rain guards were handed to all 22,592 fans as they entered Empire Field for Saturday’s match between the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC.

Rain was originally forecast, but the Whitecaps wanted to create a “white out” atmosphere similar to Toronto FC’s dominant red at BMO Field.

When French striker Eric Hassli scored Vancouver’s historic first goal in the 15th minute, hundreds of the ponchos were tossed onto the field. Referee Paul Ward delayed Toronto’s restart until attendants cleared the field,

“I’d like those ponchos to be staying in the seats as opposed to going on the field,” said commissioner Don Garber at halftime. “I’m also glad it’s not raining, a blessing in disguise.”

Whitecaps chief executive Paul Barber hoped poncho-throwing does not become a Vancouver tradition.

“Throwing things onto the pitch is not good, we'd rather fans were stamping their feet, clapping their hands, cheering, singing, banging their drums and keeping hold of their drums,” Barber said. “Today we can forgive people for being exuberant.”


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