VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson received some good news and some bad following Saturday’s scoreless draw with LA Galaxy.
Let’s start with the good.
Kekuta Manneh was back at training on Tuesday after suffering a left ankle injury in the first half of Saturday’s match. The injury was “not as bad as first feared,” according to Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson, who credited the ‘Caps medical staff for their work with Manneh over the last two days.
As for captain Pedro Morales, Robinson said it “might be a different matter.”
The Chilean, who underwent an MRI on his groin area on Monday, also picked up a first-half injury against the Galaxy and Robinson said that he would likely be out for “weeks” rather than “days.” The ‘Caps will know more once they receive the MRI results, but it’s safe to say Morales won’t be in action on Saturday against D.C. United (2:30 p.m. PT on TSN1 and TSN 1410 radio).
Turns out Morales wasn’t going to make the trip even if he was healthy.
“And I told him that prior to the game,” Robinson told reporters. “Whether that was a good thing or not a good thing, I don’t know. I have to pick and choose with certain players. The travel is very hard. We know that. With players that are vulnerable to certain things … this was a trip he was never going to go on anyway. But unfortunately I can’t make that decision now.”
He still has a few other decisions to make.
Mainly, who steps into central midfield with Morales and Matias Laba (suspension) unavailable?
There are no shortage of options. Robinson had nothing but good things to say about veteran midfielder Andrew Jacobson, who replaced Morales on Saturday. He also praised the work rate of Nicolas Mezquida, who dropped deeper into midfield once Laba was sent off.
“To play as an 8, as I asked him to with [Jacobson] as a 6, was different for him,” Robinson said. “There was a little bit of a communication barrier at some times because I thought he played slightly higher than he needed to. But if we were going to get that goal, and we tried to, it probably would have come through him. Can he play as a central midfield player 30 games a season? No, probably not. But can he do it in the one off game? Yeah, he can.”
Robinson also has the likes of Deybi Flores, Kianz Froese and Russell Teibert pushing for spots. Froese has missed three straight matches with a concussion, while Teibert (calf) has yet to play this season, but all three players trained on Tuesday.
“The door will be open for someone else,” Robinson said. “I want the players to push in training to get that spot, because it’s a privilege to play in this club. The young boys are training very, very hard. If I’ve got three players fighting for one spot, then we’re going in the right direction.”
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