Whitecaps men prepare for Galaxy

With Vancouver Whitecaps FC playing Los Angeles Galaxy on November 7, Todd Wawrousek’s side have already begun preparations for the much-anticipated international friendly.

It has been several weeks since the Whitecaps season in the United Soccer Leagues First Division came to an end, with changes to both the coaching and playing staff having taken place during that time. In the past couple of weeks, interim coach Wawrousek has been leading off-season training with members of the men’s team squad that are locally based on the Lower Mainland.

However, with the Galaxy date now confirmed, the main complement of the current squad assembled on Thursday morning to prepare for the upcoming friendly against Frank Yallop’s side. The Whitecaps will train or play scrimmage games nearly every day in the lead-up to the encounter, as Vancouver aim to give a top performance against their Major League Soccer opponents.

With six members of the 2007 squad having been released this week, Wawrousek is using the Galaxy game as a chance to look at some new faces for the 2008 season. Three free agents with USL-1 experience joined the squad for training on Thursday. They included former Atlanta Silverbacks centre back Omar Jarun, former Minnesota Thunder forward Darren Spicer, and former Carolina RailHawks midfielder Joey Worthen.

After spending the past two seasons with the Silverbacks, Jarun is surprised he is in a position to face David Beckham and the Galaxy next month. “When Mr. Wawrousek called me up, he said that the Whitecaps were interested in signing me, as they knew I was a free agent,” the 23-year-old told whitecapsfc.com. “He mentioned that they had the game against the Galaxy and asked if I was interested in coming up here for that. It was definitely something that I wanted to do.”

A native of Peachtree City, Georgia, Jarun has been capped at the international level by Palestine and has already played in qualifying games for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. With the six-foot, five-inch defender currently out of contract, Jarun is keeping his options open in regards to his future. “I want to make a move overseas, but I’m keeping Vancouver as a very high option because they are a well-respected club in the USL and they really know how to treat the players well here,” he revealed. “Vancouver is also a beautiful place, so it would be hard to turn a possible move like this down.”

The Whitecaps are sure to keep a close eye on Jarun’s situation, with the centre back having been an influential part of Atlanta’s impressive run to September’s USL-1 championship final against Seattle Sounders. “Going into the playoffs, we caught a good run against Rochester and got a great result there,” Jarun said of the Silverbacks’ postseason campaign. “The biggest result was probably away to Portland, as it is such a hard place to play with the turf and the atmosphere. They had not lost there all year. In the final, a lot of the players seemed overwhelmed and we never played well as a group against Seattle. We had not given up four goals all season, so that was a disappointment. It might have been a bad way to end the season, but it was a great year for the Silverbacks organization.”

Despite having one training session with his new teammates, Jarun was impressed by the quality of the current Whitecaps squad. “Individually, everybody is a very good player here, so that makes practice a lot better,” he said. “I’m definitely excited, even after spending one day here with the team.”

Vancouver Whitecaps FC host David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy at BC Place Stadium on Wednesday, November 7, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. Individual tickets start at just $25 and are available at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 604.280.4400 or online at www.ticketmaster.ca. For more information, check our Galaxy Page or call the Whitecaps office at 604.669.WAVE (9283).