VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to training on Tuesday at UBC following a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Portland Timbers over the weekend.
Here are some news and notes from the day.
Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi and the ‘Caps hosted a group of youth from The Boys Club Network on Tuesday at training. The Boys Club Network is a registered charity that offers “hope, opportunity, positive mentorship and education” to at-risk youth – many who come from East Vancouver and attend Templeton Secondary School.
Lenarduzzi, an East Van native who attended Templeton himself, spoke to the group at length and fielded questions during training. They also got a tour of the club’s training facility.
“It was a good opportunity for them and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Lenarduzzi said. “They just seemed like a good, respectful group of kids.”
Slowly but surely, the ‘Caps appear to be returning to full strength.
Pa-Modou Kah (calf) trained in full on Tuesday and head coach Carl Robinson said the experienced centre back will be available this weekend – as will fellow centre back Kendall Waston, who has returned from Gold Cup duty with Costa Rica.
As for left back Sam Adekugbe (ankle), who also trained with the group, Robinson said he will “definitely” be available for Vancouver’s August 1 tilt with Seattle – if not this weekend.
Meanwhile, Pedro Morales (calf) is expected to return to full training later this week.
OPTIONS AT LEFT BACK
Since Adekugbe’s injury, Jordan Harvey has started 11 straight MLS matches for the ‘Caps. But there will be a new face at left back on Sunday with Harvey suspended for a late red card against Portland.
“Whether it’s Christian [Dean], whether it’s Rusty [Teibert], whether it’s Sam, who could be available, we’ve got good options,” Robinson told reporters. “We won’t worry about it. Jordan would have been left out at some stage for a rest and he gets his rest this weekend.”
As for the tackle that resulted in Harvey’s red card, Robinson said he didn’t agree with the decision.
Here’s Harvey’s take on it.
“It’s a tough one,” he said. “Letter of the law, it’s from behind. In the run of play, I slide and he turns. So I think it looks a lot worse than it actually was. But you live with it and you move on.”
WILD, WILD WEST
It may be a bit early to start table-watching, but it’s hard not to.
There are currently just three points separating first and sixth in the Western Conference. Whitecaps FC are sitting in third with 33 points, one point behind LA Galaxy and two back of first-place FC Dallas.
So how closely are the ‘Caps looking at the standings with 13 matches remaining?
“We check it out frequently,” Harvey told reporters. “We have it up in our lounge so we see it everyday. It’s a reminder that it’s really tight. Every game is huge. Especially Western Conference battles.”
Vancouver’s next Western Conference battle comes this Sunday, when the Blue and White host San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place (4 p.m. PT – tickets still available). The ‘Caps are eight points up on the eighth-place Quakes, but the California outfit do have two games in hand.
“We want to try to keep that gap between us and them,” Robinson said. “It will be a very intense game. They beat us down in their place earlier this season and deservedly so, even though we didn’t play very well. We’ve got to focus on us this week and build on the positive performance we had in Portland.”
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