VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps defender Johnny Leverón is probably itching to see the field for Honduras against the US national team in Tuesday night's CONCACAF World Cup qualifier (9 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), but the 'Caps are hoping that doesn't happen.
That's because the 23-year-old is likely the only fit Whitecaps center back who'd be considered a starter for Rennie, and significant minutes on Tuesday could rule him out of Vancouver's Wednesday night match against Chivas USA at BC Place (10 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
Given Vancouver's injury problems in central defense, where Andy O’Brien (hamstring), Brad Rusin (calf) and Jay DeMerit (Achilles tendon) are all unavailable for selection, Leverón’s call-up doesn’t come at an ideal time for his club.
Fortunately for Vancouver manager Martin Rennie and the Whitecaps, it seems Leverón is in Salt Lake City for insurance purposes after a rash of injuries and suspensions struck the Catrachos squad.
“He’s not likely to play in that game,” Rennie said of the World Cup qualifier at Rio Tinto Stadium. “So it works out OK for us. Hopefully we’ll have him through the summer.”
Rennie did concede, however, that if the situation does arise where Leverón plays significant minutes, that could lead to some further improvisation on an already patchwork backline.
“He should be fine,” Rennie said of Leverón. “Obviously if he plays a lot of minutes, then we’ll have to look at that, but if he doesn’t play a lot of minutes, then I think he’ll be fine.”
If Leverón should be unavailable, that could mean the ‘Caps go to fifth-string central defender Adam Clement to partner Carlyle Mitchell. Clement made his first appearance in the Whitecaps' 18-man squad against the New England Revolution on Saturday, while Mitchell made his first 2013 start in the match after returning from a loan spell with FC Edmonton of the NASL.
On the plus side for the Whitecaps, Rennie indicated on Monday that Rusin and O’Brien could be back in contention for the league match against D.C. United on June 29.
Midfielder Gershon Koffie is also expected to push for a return in that match according to Rennie – although the player himself did tell reporters on Saturday that he’d be fit for Wednesday’s game against Chivas.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.