VANCOUVER, BC – It’s been a busy couple days for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
After acquiring Brek Shea from Orlando City SC over the weekend, Mauro Rosales was a surprise arrival at training on Monday as the ‘Caps continued preparations for Thursday’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal vs. New York Red Bulls (7 p.m. PT at BC Place – tickets still available). Here are some news and notes from the day.
After a one-year hiatus, Rosales has returned to Vancouver.
Whitecaps FC announced today that the Argentine midfielder is back with the club after one season with FC Dallas – a season during which he helped the Texas outfit win the MLS Supporters’ Shield as the top team in the regular season and the U.S. Open Cup.
Rosales, who turned 36 on Friday, flew into Vancouver on Monday morning, signed the appropriate paperwork, and then immediately went onto the field for a light training session. That tells you everything you need to know about why Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson was keen to bring him back into the fold.
“He’s a top person, first of all, but he’s also a top professional,” Robinson told reporters. “We were disappointed we lost him last year but we brought in Blas, who did a very good job for us … If you look at the squads I’ve built here, I like to carry a senior player who is a bit of a hybrid between the coaches and the players. Obviously Pa is now onto the coaching staff full time.”
“I know Mauro still loves the club,” Robinson continued. “We’ve got a lot of South/Central American players, which he has a big, big influence on. And I think it will be beneficial for them to see all his professionalism around the place.”
SHEA’S FIRST SESSION
There was also a new face on the pitch Monday, as Shea trained with Whitecaps FC for the first time after Saturday’s swap that sent Giles Barnes to Orlando City SC.
Shea said he was surprised by the trade, but “really excited” about the new opportunity.
“Yeah, I kind of feel like Dax [McCarty] in sense,” Shea told reporters. “I didn’t really know it was coming. But this is an exciting team and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Shea, who turns 27 on Tuesday, has spent most of the last two seasons as a left back with Orlando, but Robinson said he sees the U.S. international as more of an attacking option.
And that aligns with Shea’s vision of his own game.
“I like to attack,” he said when asked of his preferred position. “Higher up the field is better for that. I like playing on the right, on the left, or even higher. Wherever the team needs me.”
With the ‘Caps dealing with some injuries and suspensions, Shea could make his debut as early as Thursday against New York – an exciting prospect for both he and the club.
“That’s awesome,” he said. “Obviously it’s the second leg and to play at home a couple days after being traded hopefully is very exciting for me. It’s a big tournament.”
Speaking of debuts, it’s also possible that new Whitecaps FC striker Fredy Montero could make his first appearance in Blue and White on Thursday. The three-time MLS All-Star, who is on a one-year loan from Chinese Super League club Tianjin Teda, didn’t really have a preseason training camp but trained in Vancouver all of last week as he continues to work up his fitness levels.
“I am ready,” Montero told whitecapsfc.com. “Obviously not 100 per cent, however I’m just ready if the coach needs me to add something to the team, I will give everything that I have right now. We’re looking forward to advance from this round.”
As we know, Montero and Rosales were teammates in Seattle – with the latter even playing a role in bringing Montero to Vancouver. So Monday was a reunion of sorts for them as well.
“He’s a great player,” Rosales said of Montero, who did also put in a word to Robinson about his old roommate. “I’m 100 per cent sure he’s the kind of player this club deserves.”