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Whitecaps FC prepare for losses of Hassli and Koffie

Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to the training field on Thursday as they prepare for a road match on Sunday against Houston Dynamo (4 p.m. PT, Rogers Sportsnet, TEAM 1410 radio, and teamradio.ca), but Eric Hassli and Gershon Koffie won’t be boarding the plane to Texas.

The big French striker and the Ghanaian midfielder will not travel with the team after receiving red cards in Wednesday night’s match against New England Revolution. Hassli was ejected for the second time in three matches with the ‘Caps when he received a second yellow card for removing his long-sleeve jersey – revealing a second short-sleeve jersey underneath – following his third goal of the season.

He said that he’d done the same in Switzerland without being punished and was not aware of the rule.

“I think you can just put it down to enthusiasm and trying to do well for the club,” midfielder Terry Dunfield said. “I’m sure he’s learned his lesson now and it won’t happen again.”

Koffie’s absence will be tougher to swallow, as head coach Teitur Thordarson will likely have to replace both of his starting center midfielders. In addition to Koffie, Dunfield is likely out after a groin strain in the last match.

Thordarson will be missing the 19-year-old Koffie for more than just this weekend after he was called up to play for his native Ghana in the 2011 African Youth Championship tournament.

Greg Janicki, meanwhile, will miss a second straight match. The centre back sat out training on Thursday and won’t make the trip to Houston.

“We have been unfortunate in having to change the lineup around several times now, and we’re only a few games in,” Thordarson said. “Hopefully this will settle down and we can start playing with at least 70 or 80 percent of the same guys game to game.”

There was, however, some good news for Thordarson. Captain Jay DeMerit returned to full training Thursday and could be ready to play against the Dynamo.

“I got through training today, so that’s a positive, and there’s still another couple days until the game,” said DeMerit. “I should be good to go.”

Young striker Omar Salgado could make his debut after the United States U-20 national team was knocked out of the 2011 CONCACAF Championship by Guatemala on Wednesday night. Left winger Russell Teibert will also be available after Canada’s U-20 team was knocked out by Mexico on Tuesday.

“[Teibert and Salgado] will surely be tired after the games they’ve been playing,” Thordarson said. “On another note, they can focus on MLS now, but I haven’t decided anything yet on whether they'll play [on Sunday]."

Playmaker Davide Chiumiento, meanwhile, will likely see the field against Houston. The Swiss midfielder could have played against New England but stayed on the bench due to tactical reasons as the ‘Caps were down to nine men.

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