The Cameroonian Tank: Tony Tchani
Electric is the how I would describe the atmosphere at BC Place on Saturday evening when the Vancouver Whitecaps romped to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The quality of the football definitely added to the excitement within the stadium, especially after the first 20 minutes when the Whitecaps stopped playing with that handbrake on a flooded forward with purpose. Despite the accolades of the evening going to Freddy Montero due to his goal and assist performance, the difference maker for me was new signing, Tony Tchani.
Standing at 6’4 and built like a brick shithouse, Tchani was incredibly imposing and won every tackle I remember him going into. The attacking benefit of the added stability which Tchani added was the freedom that was granted to Mathias Laba – ultimately resulting in two goals for the busy midfielder. Tchani entered the match on 64 minutes and beastily won his first tackle. The Whitecaps drew level on 66, just after his entrance and then went on to dominate the duration of the match from that point.
The players which express creativity and elegance are the ones which usually gain the most notice – players such as Montero and Techera, yet the foundation of the lineup lay in the holding midfielder role. Having a competent component such as Tchani playing this role allows the creative minds in the line-up to flourish. Laba has always played that role for the Whitecaps but I’ve often seen him maurading forward leaving players such as Montero and previously, Pedro Morales, to fill into a role they are very unfamiliar with - this ultimately exposes the back-line of the team. I don’t see Tchani playing the industrious role but rather holding, winning tackles and distributing from deep - ultimately adding shape to the backbone of the line-up. Once he entered the pitch, it felt as though the Whitecaps had their offensive shackles removed.
Not on show on Saturday evening was Tchani’s range of passing however, he definitely has the ability to unlock the opposition from deep lying positions. Once he gains familiarity with his new teammates and the runs they like to make will he really begin to express his arsenal of qualities.
Tchani is a Cameroonian international and played at the prestigious University of Virginia football program. I had the opportunity to play against the University of Virginia at the famous Clockner Stadium when I played for Liberty University in the NCAA. It's a grand Collegiate setting and the quality of football the program expresses is the most esteemed in the country. They have made the NCAA tournament more consecutive times than any program in history. The pedigree which Tchani has was mostly built in his Collegiate days and he has grown from that to forge a great professional career thus far. An experienced MLS player, Tchani is going to be a force for the Whitecaps. From initial observation, my opinion is that he is the Whitecaps best signing of the summer – now it’s up to him to prove his worth.
Football is very consequential. The quality of the football enhances the decibel level of the supporters which in turn is reciprocated by the players in the form of energy and passion. When a team feels energized and supported, they begin to play with a certain beneficial arrogance. I felt this was on display this past weekend and the introduction of the Cameroonian tank is just the injection of vigour that the Whitecaps needed.