VANCOUVER, BC – With an important three-match road trip on the horizon, Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to training Tuesday morning at UBC’s Dhillon Field.
Despite the rain, it was a high-intensity 90-minute session that included a full scrimmage as well as a few small-sided games.
"The guys are in good spirits," Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie told reporters after training. "This is the most important point of the season."
After a weekend draw with Chivas USA, the ‘Caps currently slot in at sixth place in the Western Conference – just outside the playoff picture. They’re level on points with FC Dallas, the team they will meet this Saturday in Frisco, Texas.
“This is where we are right now,” said midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. “This is going to be a real test of character. This is going to separate the men from the boys. I think with the team that we have, we have to show that we’re men. This is serious business. We’ve got some real tough games coming up … and we need to get results. This is the type of period that shows your true character and shows how far you’ve really come along as a team and as individuals.”
Teibert departed for Spain over the weekend to attend Canada’s senior men’s national team training camp, while Mattocks was called up to Jamaica for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers September 6 vs. Panama and September 10 vs. Costa Rica.
“Obviously, we’ve got a few people who can come in and play,” Rennie said. “You saw [Erik Hurtado] come in for [Teibert] on the weekend and do a very good job creating and also defending well. We’re in a good position to have a few choices there.”
Rennie also said centre back Jay DeMerit is in contention to crack the 18-man gameday roster on Saturday. It would be DeMerit’s first selection since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in Vancouver’s March 2 regular season opener.
“We did some testing on him the other day and he’s very close to where he was before,” Rennie said. “That shows how hard he’s worked. Now it’s just that game sharpness … he’s getting closer to that. Maybe he can be a big factor. You never know.”
Meanwhile, Omar Salgado made an appearance at training on Tuesday, as he continues to recover from a fractured right foot. The 19-year-old winger did some light jogging along the sidelines as well as some light work with head athletic trainer Jake Joachim.
Saturday’s Western Conference clash with FC Dallas kicks off a three-match road trip for Whitecaps FC. The Blue and White will then travel to San Jose and Montreal before hosting first-place Real Salt Lake September 28 at BC Place.