Spirits high as Vancouver enter busy stretch

Hassli, Chiumiento ready to go

Three days after matching the largest comeback in MLS history, Vancouver Whitecaps FC put their 3-3 tie against Sporting Kansas City behind them and returned to training as they face a quick turnaround, with a Wednesday home game against New England Revolution fast approaching.

Heavy rainfall did not dampen spirits at Empire Field on Tuesday. The players looked a lively, confident group, which will be important for the ‘Caps in the middle of a congested stretch that sees them play three matches in eight days. Luckily for head coach Teitur Thordarson, he has some options at his disposal.

Playmaker Davide Chiumiento came on for the last 20 minutes against Sporting KC after missing the match in Philadelphia and looks set for more time on Wednesday. The Swiss magician has only played 66 minutes so far this season, but has been on the field for five of the team’s seven goals, assisting on three of them.

“He is a player that can change games, and he has shown that on several occasions,” said Thordarson. “We want to be careful with him and try to make sure that we bring him back to the fitness level that he should be at.”

Last week, the question was whether the ‘Caps had enough depth up front. This week, the question is, who will they start?

Big striker Eric Hassli returns to the lineup after missing the match against Kansas City due to suspension, and with the consistent play of Atiba Harris and Camilo coming off of an MLS Player of the Week performance, Thordarson should be able to keep his frontline fresh. Each of them has two goals so far this season.

“I usually don’t care too much about who scores the goals,” said Thordarson, “but I must say that I’ve been very pleased to see those guys score because they’ve been brought in to do that. It’s fantastic for me to have these options.”

Vancouver also looks set in goal with Jay Nolly and Joe Cannon both good options to start in net. The pair have alternated starts in the first three matches, and with a busy schedule, Thordarson can count on either to get the job done.

Center back remains a question mark. Greg Janicki was sidelined during practice with a hip injury that he suffered early during the weekend match. Jay DeMerit took part in warm-up, but remains questionable, as he recovers from a groin injury that he aggravated while playing with the US national team against Paraguay.

Also on the injury front, Shea Salinas, John Thorrington, and Michael Nanchoff participated in shooting drills, an encouraging sign with the trio having yet to play in any of the first three matches.