VANCOUVER, BC – As Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson put it, he has “some nice decisions” to make heading into this weekend’s rematch with LA Galaxy.
The ‘Caps returned to training on Tuesday at the University of British Columbia after suffering a 1-0 road loss to the Galaxy over the weekend. Robinson opted to field a younger squad against the Galaxy, as 19-year-old Kekuta Manneh and 24-year-old Sebastian Fernandez both drew into the starting lineup, and he was encouraged by what he saw.
“You saw that we have a lot of talented young players who were able to hold their own with one of the best teams in Major League Soccer,” Robinson told reporters on Tuesday. “We went toe to toe with them in certain aspects of it, and it was refreshing to see the amount of young players we had on the field and the growth we’ve had since 12 weeks ago.”
“I said to them today, I want them to be encouraged by the performance they put on but also we can step it to another level in terms of when we have the ball,” he added.
Robinson’s side will have an opportunity to do just that when they return to BC Place on Saturday for a second straight meeting with the Galaxy. For Robinson, the question now becomes: does he stick with a youthful squad or do more experienced players like Kenny Miller and/or Nigel Reo-Coker get back into the mix?
Miller was subbed on in the 70th minute this past weekend after starting Vancouver’s first five matches, while Reo-Coker didn’t see the pitch in his first match since returning from injury.
“As players, they accept the decision if you explain it to them,” said Robinson, adding that he wanted to rest Miller because of his limited action in the preseason. “They don’t like it, but I’m not here to be liked. I’m just here to be respected. Both guys showed me a lot of respect and I showed them a lot of respect by explaining the decisions and the thought-process behind them. But we move forward now. Both might be part of the game on Saturday so they just have to try and convince me that they deserve to start.”
Defensive midfielder Matias Laba is also available for selection after serving his one-game suspension, though Robinson said he was very pleased with how Russell Teibert and Gershon Koffie performed as a holding midfield tandem in his absence.
“We all know how good Matias has been for us in the first five games of the season,” Robinson said. “He’s been absolutely fantastic and he’s a vital part of our team moving forward. It will be a tough decision, but I’m better off having those decisions to make then wondering who I’m going to put in the team.”
Listen to Carl Robinson and Russell Teibert speak to media after training:
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.