John Thorrington has been around the block a few times, but one thing he’s never done is play in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Leading FC Edmonton 2-0 on aggregate going into the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals on Wednesday (8 p.m. PT; Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Pacific in Canada), Thorrington and Vancouver Whitecaps FC smell that possibility. The winner of the tournament gets to represent Canada in the region’s top competition, and the ‘Caps have reason to believe they’re well on their way.
“It’s huge,” Thorrington told MLSsoccer.com on Monday after a training session at BC Place. “To be able to qualify for the Champions League – to say you’re the best team in Canada. We lost the right to say that last year because we were bettered by Toronto in the cup and the league. That’s left a bit of hunger for us to go and do that, so I approach every game as seriously as it deserves to be treated.”
The 32-year-old has represented the United States four times, but the chance to experience international club competition is clearly something Thorrington wants to add to his résumé.
“This would be a first for me,” Thorrington said of the possibility of continental competition. “It’s something that would be fantastic. This club has goals of becoming a big club here in North America and the world. That’s the way to do it – to go and compare ourselves against the best teams from Central America and Mexico.
“There’s some fantastic players and a great opportunity for us as players to go up against internationals, national team players and big clubs from our region. Wednesday will be another step, hopefully, in getting there.”
Despite Vancouver’s 2-0 aggregate lead, the midfielder was preaching professionalism ahead of the match against second-tier Edmonton.
“We showed a good attitude and workrate [in the first leg in Edmonton] to come back here with two goals, but it will take just as professional and as good as a performance to get us through to the final,” Thorrington said. “We’ve put together a good run of wins here.
“I think it would be huge for our fans and the city to say we’re the best team in Canada – I know Vancouver is a very proud city, and to lay claim to being the best team in Canada is very important for us and our fans.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.