Whitecaps defender back at full strength after foot injury
BY MARC WEBER
Lyle Martin's recently healed broken foot is about to get a serious workout. So is his ego.
Martin, the Vancouver Whitecaps speedy right-side defender from California, has the task of marking Toronto FC star Dwayne De Rosario tonight as the Whitecaps host TFC in a must-win Nutrilite Canadian Championship match for the home side.
De Rosario, a three-time Canadian player of the year and four-time MLS Cup winner, was easily the best player on the field in Toronto's 1-0 win over Vancouver on May 6. The 31-year-old from Scarborough, Ont., picked out Kevin Harmse just three minutes in and tormented the defence all night long.
"For me, it'll be a challenge and it's a challenge I want to have," said Martin, who returned to action last week after a three-month recovery.
"If I can do my job and lock him up then I know where I stand with the team and the league -- with the rest of North America for that matter. The better he plays, the better you have to play, and I think that'll definitely raise my level and raise the team's level."
De Rosario has four goals and an assist in 10 MLS games this season. He's also shot 27 times, which is part of what makes the all-star attacking midfielder so dangerous: he can score from anywhere.
The Whitecaps will have a different look on defence tonight, with Martin moving to right back and Takashi Hirano on the left. Jeff Parke started the last Toronto game on the right side before sliding into the middle due to injury and making way for Wes Knight. Mason Trafford was on the left side that night.
Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson claimed not to be overly consumed by De Rosario.
"We know what he can bring into this, we know what kind of qualities he has," said the coach, "but we focus mostly on ourselves. We do not focus too much on that."
That said, in Saturday's 2-0 loss at Portland, Thordarson had Martin on right wing and Knight at right back. Going by Monday's practice, he's flipped that pairing for tonight.
De Rosario sounded ready to battle, regardless.
"When you play teams from a lower league, they tend to come out with a lot more bite," he said. "I'm sure it's going to be a game with a lot of intensity, a lot of passion. There's bragging rights [for the Voyageurs Cup]. When you're a champion, you're a champion."
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