VANCOUVER, BC – Despite being eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend, Vancouver Whitecaps FC intend to go out with a bang Sunday in their regular season finale.
Head coach Martin Rennie said he may look to insert one or two younger players into the squad when the ‘Caps host Colorado Rapids Sunday at BC Place, but it will be on "merit" and won’t come at the expense of putting on a good performance for the fans.
Camilo, who trails MLS Golden Boot leaders Marco Di Vaio and Mike Magee by just one goal, and rookie Kekuta Manneh, who has scored four goals in his last two matches, are both expected to be in the lineup.
“We’re looking to get the highest point total that we’ve ever had. We’ve scored 50 goals, we want to get some more. We want to be up there amongst the highest scoring teams in the league,” Rennie told reporters Tuesday after a training session at UBC.
“Not only that, we just want to appreciate our fans and make sure we realize how much we’re thankful for all the support they’ve given us. They’ve been unwavering in that. Even coming back from the last game, after the disappointment, there were many of them there at the airport singing, chanting and supporting us. We owe them a lot. And we want to make sure that we put on a really good performance for them … we need to finish on a high.”
With left back Jordan Harvey suspended due to caution accumulation, Rennie said there’s a good chance 18-year-old Sam Adekugbe will make his first Major League Soccer start this weekend. Adekugbe, who was signed as a Homegrown player in August, has yet to dress in an MLS match.
“I haven’t heard it officially, but if it’s true then I’m definitely excited,” Adekugbe told reporters. “I just need to keep working hard and hope to do the right things. If I do start, then all thanks to God.”
Although Rennie said Omar Salgado looked good in training on Tuesday, the ‘Caps manager concluded it may be a little soon for him to return. The 20-year-old winger, who has returned to full training, has been out of action since undergoing surgery on his fractured right foot back in May.
“He hasn’t played any reserve games or anything like that yet,” Rennie said. “Given how long he’s been out and how important we believe he can be to our team, we really want to make sure he’s back fully fit for next season. It would be a bit of a gamble to throw in him at this point.”
Among those absent from training on Tuesday were striker Kenny Miller and captain Jay DeMerit. Rennie said Miller, who has been battling patellar tendinopathy in his right knee for most of the season, has gone to see a world-renowned specialist in Europe and will not be available on Sunday. DeMerit, meanwhile, was simply away at a doctor’s appointment and is expected back on Wednesday.
Whitecaps FC wrap up the 2013 MLS regular season on October 27, when they host the Rapids at BC Place in the back half of their home-and-home series. The final home match of the regular season will also be Fan Appreciation Night. A number of initiatives are planned to thank fans for their continued support. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.