International call-ups can throw a spanner into the works of many an MLS team, but for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, that isn’t a problem.
While many teams are missing players in the next period of time due to various international commitments, only Michael Boxall, a young centre back yet to play a minute of MLS action in 2012, will be away from the ‘Caps, as he plays with his native New Zealand.
It’s a good thing, too, given the intensive nine games in 28 days spell the team recently wrapped up last weekend in Portland.
“It works in one or two ways,” head coach Martin Rennie told MLSsoccer.com after training at Swangard Stadium on Thursday. “When you’ve got so many games, it would be hard to have anybody missing. It would have been difficult, but right now it’s good for us that we’re able to work with everybody together, get everybody healthy, get everybody fit and strong, and build on the chemistry of the team. That side of it’s all positive, and obviously we know ourselves we have a lot of work to do.
“In the long run, we do want guys playing for their national team, especially if they’re playing for big national teams - that would be a big thing for us.”
Goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who earned two caps for the United States national team in the mid-2000s, agreed with his coach’s sentiments that ultimately the club wants to see their players go on to compete at the highest level internationally, even if the current lull of call-ups comes at an opportune time.
“This is a team that wants people to be called up to the national team,” Cannon said. “We should aspire to be a team that has a lot of national team guys and are leaving during those breaks. We want our players to go to the next level and come back with that experience. I think that’s very important. I would not fret at all if we had certain guys missing here.
“But if it helps us in the sense that we’re playing teams that don’t field their strongest teams, then we’re going to take that. In the short term sure it might be good, but in the long term, that’s what we aspire to be.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.