VANCOUVER, BC – Russell Teibert sure doesn’t sound like a player whose season ended over two weeks ago. That’s because the way he sees it, “the season isn’t over” yet.
It’s been business as usual for the Canadian midfielder since Whitecaps FC closed out their 2013 Major League Soccer campaign October 27 at BC Place.
With the Canadian senior men’s national team set to meet the Czech Republic and Slovenia in a pair of international friendlies, Teibert spent the last two weeks training in Vancouver with the likes of Rick Celebrini, Gordon Forrest, and a few of his teammates.
Kickoff for Canada's friendly vs. the Czech Republic is set for Friday at 8 a.m. PT. They will then meet Slovenia on Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT. Sportsnet ONE will carry both matches live.
Right now, the off-season is the last thing on his mind.
“Playing with the national team is a big deal,” Teibert told whitecapsfc.com before joining up with the national team in Austria this past weekend. “It’s what we play for as professional athletes, to represent our country. I’ve been really preparing for this camp.”
Canada’s 22-man squad, which also includes Whitecaps FC striker Caleb Clarke, assembled in Bat Waltersdof, Austria on November 10 in preparation of the two matches. The Red and White will travel to face 27th-ranked Czech Republic in Olomouc on November 15, before squaring off against 30th-ranked Slovenia in Celje on November 19.
The fact that Whitecaps FC’s season is over didn’t really change anything in terms of Teibert’s mindset for the upcoming fixtures. He said everyone on the team was disappointed not to qualify for the playoffs, but now is not the time to dwell on it.
“I don’t find it more difficult to focus,” said Teibert, who has earned six caps with the men’s national team. “These games make it easy because they’re big games. You stay motivated and you stay hungry because you want to do well.”
Part of the motivation for Teibert is to help get Canada out of its current slump. The senior men’s national team is winless in 12 straight matches and hasn’t scored a goal in the last eight. Those results just aren’t good enough, Teibert said, even for a program that is “starting from the bottom up.”
“I think results are always in the back of your mind, whether you don’t say they are or whether you do say they are,” said Teibert, a two-time Canadian U-17 Player of the Year. “You go into each game wanting to win. Not that results are the main focus right now, but we just want to show Canada that we as Canadians can play good football.”
Canada head coach Benito Floro talks about this month's camp
The Niagara Falls, Ontario native said the players also want to show everyone that they have faith in new head coach Benito Floro. This is Canada’s third camp under the Spaniard, and Teibert has been involved in each of them. The focus since Floro took over, Teibert said, has been to establish a new culture and identity as a Canadian men’s national team – a process that may take some time.
“We’re trying to really build something real … something with a firm foundation that we can build upon for years to come,” he said. “I think the culture has changed a lot since Benito came in and I think that everything that has changed has been for the better.”
So far, Teibert said the feedback he has received from the new manager, who he referred to as a “perfectionist,” has been positive. The two have spoken on a few occasions outside of camps and Floro watched a Whitecaps FC match at BC Place earlier this year.
“I think he believes in my quality as a player,” Teibert said. “Each time he calls me back into training camp - as fortunate as I am that I keep getting the call and as proud as I am to play for my country - it’s about showcasing to him and to the rest of the country what I’m capable of. For me, I thank God every time I step on the field because I know when there are hard times and when you can’t get on the field what that feels like.”
Following the camp, Teibert will fly home to Niagara Falls and spend six days there with his family and friends. Then, it’s back to training in Vancouver, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m looking to hit the off-season on a real high note and come back prepared and ready to go.”
Whitecaps FC 2014 season tickets are now on sale and start at just $349, subject to applicable fees. The club is also offering a flexible range of additional products, including half-season packs, 5-packs, student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.