VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC are ready to welcome winger Russell Teibert back into the fold this weekend in Saturday’s match vs. the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live). Ready might be an understatement.
The 20-year-old missed out on three MLS matches with the 'Caps as a result of a call-up to the Canadian national team for the Gold Cup, but played just one match in that tournament after he came down a virus, along with his roommate, Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson.
“I couldn’t get out of my hotel room,” Teibert told reporters after a training session at the University of British Columbia on Thursday. “It was tough to eat and stuff. I’m happy it’s over with 100 percent right now.”
The attacking player now insists he’s back to full fitness, and given the form he showed alongside Camilo and Kenny Miller in the final third, it’s difficult to imagine him not slotting straight back in on the right side of Vancouver’s front three.
Corey Hertzog, the player who played on the right over the past three games, has done well, setting up the game-winner in Vancouver's 2-0 win over Seattle – but given Teibert’s run of six assists over five games before departing, that’s hardly an insult.
“He’s an important player for us,” head coach Martin Rennie said of Teibert. “He’s leading our team in assists … he’s a very dangerous player. He seemed to be back to full fitness today and looked good in training, so we’ll see how we go for the weekend.
“But we’re pleased to have more options to choose from … it’s nice to have Russell back and nice to see him getting healthy again – it’s not nice when you’re sick so it’s nice to see him getting over that.”
But will that time away from Camilo and Miller affect the chemistry that was so evident before?
“Even in training today I think we’re right where we left off,” Teibert said. “I think the chemistry’s definitely still there and we’re going to show that on Saturday.”
One player who perhaps could drop from Rennie’s options is Darren Mattocks, who missed out on training Thursday as he was receiving treatment on his knee. The Jamaican speedster tweaked his knee in warm-up against the Chicago Fire last weekend, and his status for this weekend is uncertain.
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.