Training report: Spirits remain high heading into Cascadia showdown with Seattle Sounders FC
VANCOUVER, BC – It’s been a busy month of May for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Between the Amway Canadian Championship and Major League Soccer competition, the ‘Caps had four matches in the first two weeks of May alone.
After a much-deserved bye this past weekend, the team returned to training early this week in preparation for their final match of the month – a Cascadia showdown with first-place Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday at BC Place.
Click on the graphic to learn more about the Cascadia Cup
“We thought after three or four days off it might take them a little while to get their legs going again,” assistant coach Martyn Pert told reporters on Tuesday. “But they have been brilliant. They have been first class. I think you can see today that the spirit in the group is fantastic.”
It’s easy to see why. The ‘Caps are undefeated in their last four MLS matches and had a strong showing against Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship semifinal. According to Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson, the team’s off-field chemistry is starting to translate into on-field results.
“I think you see that when you get a group of guys that are on the same page and enjoy each other’s company off the field as well as on the field then you’re getting the best out of them,” he said.
The spirit and chemistry of the group has been a major talking point the last few days at training – as has the Cascadia rivalry. Saturday’s match will be Vancouver’s first Cascadia derby of the 2014 season. Last season, not only did Whitecaps FC claim their first win over Seattle, they also won their fourth Cascadia Cup in club history.
“These are always great games to play in,” Nigel Reo-Coker told reporters on Tuesday. “The atmosphere that gets generated, the rivalry between the fans and having home and away support at the stadium, it makes it even more exciting. It’s a fantastic game to be involved in. We’re the defending [Cascadia] champions and we want to make sure we keep the Cup here.”
LISTEN: Whitecaps FC defender Jordan Harvey speaks to media after training
News and notes
- Whitecaps FC striker Darren Mattocks, who is currently recovering from a left hamstring strain, did some individual work on the sidelines on both Monday and Tuesday. When asked about his desire to be involved on Saturday, Mattocks said: “There’s just something special about playing Seattle and Portland. I’m being optimistic, but also I’m being realistic. If it’s not ready by Saturday, it’s just not ready.” Robinson said Mattocks’ status for this weekend will be re-evaluated on Thursday, adding that “it would be a big boost if he is available.”
- Speaking of Mattocks, Robinson had this to say in response to a question about the Jamaican’s new attitude: “I’m glad you guys can see it as well. Seeing Darren smiling, seeing Darren talking in the group within the changing room giving his voice and opinions, as well as seeing Darren run. Last year, it was like come on Darren you have to do this and do this. Now, we’re not saying too much and he’s actually taking it on board himself. He’s in a good place and it’s important that we keep him in that good place.”
- The ‘Caps underwent fitness testing on Monday after having the weekend off and, not surprisingly, Russell Teibert was the cream of the crop. The Canadian midfielder reached level 23.2 on the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, Level 2. “I actually had to stop Russell at the end,” said Robinson. “He could have kept on going.”
- Residency midfielders Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese joined in with the first team on Tuesday after returning from the Canadian U-20 national team camp. Residency graduates Brody Huitema and Ben McKendry also took part.
- Whitecaps FC striker Caleb Clarke, who is on loan with German Bundesliga club FC Augsburg II, had to pull out of this week’s Canadian senior men’s national team camp due to injury – as did defender Tyler Pasher. Whitecaps FC U-23 defender Jackson Farmer and Residency graduate Ben Fisk have been called up to replace them.
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