More than three points at stake vs. Islanders tonight - The Province

Whitecaps win would nail tiebreaker

Marc Weber

It's not as if the Vancouver Whitecaps are waiting for the cavalry to arrive. At, or near the top of the table for much of the season, the squad in its present form appears poised for a playoff run.

Still, head coach Teitur Thordarson expressed disappointment on Thursday over the transfer deadline deal for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines internationals Marlon James and Cornelius Huggins falling through.

James, who twice led the Malaysian Super League in scoring, was to be in the lineup tonight as the Caps (13-6-7) take on the Puerto Rico Islanders (13-6-7) in the second of back-to-back first-place clashes. The teams drew 1-1 on Sunday.

"It would have been a good thing to get those players," said Thordarson. "I would really have liked that just because of the depth in the group -- to be able to rely on experienced players down the stretch and in the playoffs.

"But I'm confident this group can take us all the way. I just hope that we can stay healthy and not get any suspensions."

Three games remain for the Whitecaps after tonight, including a home tilt against Minnesota on Sunday (7 p.m.) that's being billed as MLS Rally Night.

The first-place team earns a bye through the opening round of playoffs and Puerto Rico currently holds the tiebreaker over Vancouver based on goals. A Whitecaps win tonight, though, would give Vancouver the tiebreaker.

"I think we will approach the game very similar to last time," said Thordarson, not willing to claim a fitness advantage after having watched the Islanders play a CONCACAF Champions League game on Wednesday.

"They are one of the teams that has the best depth and I know they rested some players, some of their best players.

"We will try to be patient and pick our right moments to attack."

- Whitecaps defender Diaz Kambere is on a one-match loan to MLS side Toronto FC, which is missing players due to international commitments.

mweber@theprovince.com

© The Vancouver Province 2008