Training report: Smiles all around as Whitecaps FC return to training after week-long break

Hurtado: "You can just see a little twinkle in everyone's eye"

Gershon Koffie laughing in training

Photo Credit: 
Farhan Devji/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

VANCOUVER, BC – After a full week off, Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to training Monday at the University of British Columbia and there were smiles all around.

As goalkeeper David Ousted told reporters, it almost felt like the first day of preseason all over again – a sentiment echoed by striker Erik Hurtado.

“Everyone is a lot more refreshed and everyone has smiles on their faces,” Hurtado told reporters. “I don’t know if it’s the World Cup or what’s going on. It’s always an up-lifted spirit in there but right now you can just see a little twinkle in everyone’s eye.”

Hurtado, in particular, has had a twinkle in his eye as of late. After going goalless in his rookie season, the second-year striker/winger has scored a goal in each of his last five games in all competitions. And he doesn’t expect the week-long break to disrupt his form.

“It’s always good to get a mental break,” said Hurtado, who spent the entire week with family and friends in Portland. “Obviously, I try to stay as fit as possible. I worked out four days of the week, just to try and stay in tuned with it.”

Although the ‘Caps are undefeated in seven league fixtures, a new club record, head coach Carl Robinson said the break came at the right time for his group – a notion that was reinforced by the energy in the locker room on Monday.

“They’ve got the music buzzing again and they’re in a positive frame of mind,” Robinson told reporters. “We’re going to need to carry that on now. We’ve had a very good start, but it’s only a start.”

As it stands, Whitecaps FC occupy the fifth spot in the Western Conference with 21 points – though they have at least two games in hand over the four teams ahead of them. Their 1.62 points per game rate is third best in the conference and seventh best in all of Major League Soccer.

“We’re happy where we are,” Nigel Reo-Coker told reporters. “Carl’s approach is that we just go about our business quietly. If anything, you can compare that to the San Antonio Spurs. We go about our business quietly, take it one game at a time, and make sure we continue to improve in our performances.”

And that mindset is going to be vital with a busy stretch approaching. Vancouver’s June 25 match against longtime Canadian rival Montreal Impact kicks off a stretch of six games in four weeks for the Blue and White. That’s why one of the focuses this week in training is going to be make sure fitness levels are where they need to be.

“Hard work,” said Robinson when asked about his approach to training this week. “After seven days off, it’s important we ease into it today and tomorrow but we’ll ramp it up then towards the end of the week. We’ll have a day or two off on the weekend and then we’ll mentally prepare for Montreal. It’s a very difficult game against them. Results haven’t been going well for them, but they have very good players and a very good manager in Frank Klopas. So we’re going to have to be fully prepared for that game.”

LISTEN: Robinson speaks to media about the World Cup and more

News and notes

- The ‘Caps welcomed three trialists to training on Monday: 21-year-old English left back/winger Jernade Meade, who has spent time with both Arsenal and Swansea City, 22-year-old Brazilian midfielder Guilherme Morano, and 19-year-old New Zealand-born winger/striker Dylan Stansfield. The three trialists will train with Whitecaps FC for the next week and a half.

- Ousted spent the week off in the Okanagan with his family and managed to get in a round of golf. He shot a 74. “It was definitely my best round in a while,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of expectations for that round, but I suddenly put it all together.”

- Whitecaps FC defender Steven Beitashour, who is blogging for whitecapsfc.com from Brazil, was on the bench Monday as the Iranian national team opened their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign with a scoreless draw with Nigeria. Iran will play their second match of the tournament on Saturday at 9 a.m. PT against Argentina.

It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets ($220), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.