Whitecaps prepping against MLS squads - The Province

Three games set for Phoenix BY MARC WEBER Last year's preseason had a little pleasure built in. This year it's all practical. The Vancouver Whitecaps, who worked in a safari on their Tanzanian tour a year ago, will face three Major League Soccer teams this month in Phoenix. It's a chance to measure the squad against the very competition it will face when it jumps from North America's second tier to MLS, the top league, in 2011. "That's what I'm looking for," head coach Teitur Thordarson said Monday. "To test the team against MLS opposition. That's the best test we can get right now." The Caps will face the Seattle Sounders on Feb. 11, the Chicago Fire on Feb. 15, and the reigning MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake on Feb. 20. These games will give recently named director of soccer operations Tom Soehn his first true look at the current squad. CHIN, TRAFFORD LIKELY DONE Two players not likely to make the trip to Arizona are midfielder Gordon Chin of Burnaby and defender Mason Trafford of North Vancouver. Thordarson left himself a fraction of wiggle room, but both players are essentially done with the club. "I have, more or less, decided not to sign them," the coach said. "Both these players, they need to go somewhere they can play." The Caps have bolstered the midfield with the addition of USL all-stars Jonny Steele and Ricardo Sanchez. As well, residency graduate Ethan Gage is back in the mix after a season that included a trial in Germany and a foot injury. That's left Chin without a deal. Traf ford, meanwhi le, has been bumped down the depth chart at left back with the signing of Zourab Tsiskaridze from Miami FC. Chin was one of the best Caps' stories of 2009: the small local lad who fought his way through a two-month trial to make the team, then cracked the lineup and became a fan favourite with his energy and tenacity. "When I went in [for my meeting] at the end of the year, I thought I'd be offered a contract," he said. "It came as a little bit of a surprise when they asked me to wait, but I thought I'd win a contract again [in training camp]. That doesn't appear to be the case." Chin, 26, was optimistic enough that he turned down trial opportunities in China, where he's played previously. Trafford, 23, did go on trial in China last month and said he's still waiting to hear back. Neither should have trouble finding a job with one of the Caps' rivals in USSF D2 (formerly USL-1). mweber@theprovince.com © Copyright (c) The Province