By Ian Walker
VANCOUVER — Let's say, hypothetically speaking, you've been on holidays for a month. And between your days lounging at the beach and nights sipping drinks on some of the province’s best patios — maybe even sometimes the other way around — you lost track of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Sure, you heard rumblings — over the Bob Marley playing in the background and the ocean lapping against the shore. There was that little thing of the Montreal Impact appearing to throw the Nutrilite Championships and costing the Whitecaps a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. And something else about two teammates slapping each other late in a game Vancouver was winning. But other than that, you’re pretty much out in the sun.
Big deal. Nothing a quick glance at the team’s website won’t fix. Click on the team’s schedule … And low and behold, it’s like you were never really gone. Tonight’s home game against the Minnesota Thunder is the Whitecaps’ first in 15 days. As fate would have it, the defending United Soccer Leagues First Division champions only returned to work themselves on Monday, after a six-day furlough.
“Tensions were running high as things didn’t go as we wanted and there were guys on the edge, so it was good to have a chance to settle down,” said Whitecaps captain Martin Nash.
Marlon James (calf), Marco Reda (quad), Kenold Versailles (ankle), Ansu Toure (knee) and Justin Moose (foot) are all out due to injury. Toure’s expected to be out the longest — at least another three weeks — after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on June 25. Toure’s injury means Tyrell Burgess, 23, will make his first start as a professional tonight.
On the sidelines will be a pair of players at opposite ends of their careers. Veteran defender Geordie Lyall makes his return after missing all but two games this season, while 19-year-old residency call-up Phillipe Davies makes his first appearance.
Vacation, staycation, one thing every follower knows is the Whitecaps are desperate for a win. Not only is Vancouver tied for eighth in the 11-team league with a 4-5-3 record, but has only one win in its last six USL-1 matches. And it only gets harder from here. After lowly Minnesota (1-7-5) they travel east to face Miami (5-6-2) and fourth-place Carolina (7-4-3). All in the next eight days.
Good thing you got back when you did.
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