Training report: Morales takes a 'big step' in his road to recovery

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC were back at training on Tuesday after a weekend defeat to Sporting Kansas City – and they had some company.

More than 1,500 fans descended upon Swangard Stadium for the Whitecaps FC Open Practice presented by Sport Chek. Here are some news and notes from the day.

OPEN PRACTICE

This never gets old.

Tuesday marked the fourth-annual Whitecaps FC Open Practice presented by Sport Chek. And it seems to keep getting bigger and better – as you can see here.

“We’re a family club,” said left back Sam Adekugbe. “It’s good to have the kids here, it’s good to have the parents, and the teenagers be a part of the Whitecaps community. It’s definitely a great time. It’s good for the fans, it’s good the players, it’s good for everyone.”

MAKING STRIDES

Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said that captain Pedro Morales (calf) “took a big step” in his recovery on Tuesday by doing some running on his own, adding that the Chilean has “an outside chance” of being involved Saturday against Portland Timbers.  

Morales has now missed four straight matches. While the likes of Mauro Rosales, Kekuta Manneh, and Cristian Techera have looked dangerous in his absence, Robinson said that Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City showed how much he’s missed.

“Pedro’s arguably one of our best players, if not our best player,” Robinson told reporters. “You’re going to miss top players. I think Sunday showed that we do miss Pedro. To play really, really well and not go ahead, they score, the dynamics of the game change … so we needed to change our dynamics slightly and we did by trying to put on different personnel. But having the option of dropping Pedro a little but deeper and us playing a little bit more football would have helped us.”

Centre back Pa-Modou Kah (calf) and Adekugbe (ankle) also did some individual work on Tuesday as they work back from their respective injuries.

“It’s been very tough,” Adekugbe said. “It was an uncontrolled injury; there was nothing I could have really done about it. There are a lot of games coming up so I’m hoping to get fit with the USL team, with the first team, and just get back to where I was at the start of the season.”

NO EXCUSES

The ‘Caps could be missing some pieces again this weekend, but don’t tell that to Robinson.

“No excuses for us,” he said. “We’ll go there with a young group. We’ll give it our best. Who knows? This game is brilliant. It sometimes causes shocks. There will be a few more players who get another opportunity on Saturday. What a game for us to play.”

Saturday’s match will be the third and final meeting between Vancouver and Portland this season. Robinson’s side won the first meeting 2-1 at BC Place, before playing to a scoreless draw at Providence Park back on May 2.

The ‘Caps are currently one point up on Portland in the hotly contested Western Conference. 

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